When it comes to fashion, most people only think about the design and fit of the clothes and not the way the clothes are produced. When it comes to environmental pollution, the fashion industry is a major producer of this type of pollution. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), more than three-quarters of all of the textiles work in the United States end up in a landfill. Is this the way the fashion industry will always operate or is sustainable fashion in Los Angeles (and other fashion forward cities) on the way in the future?
Sustainable Fashion in Los Angeles – Fashion Trends Revealed
One of the reasons fast fashion brands have been a dominant part of the fashion industry for the past few years has been the demand for clothes that are inexpensive and not intended to last past a season. Having said that, there has also been a movement to produce clothing that is more sustainable and lasts longer. In addition, the buying public is looking for clothing that is locally produced and also contains a greater amount of organic materials. This emerging trend has been referred to as “slow fashion” and a good portion of this trend is happening in Los Angeles. Due to the multiple factors involved in sustainable fashion, it is sometimes hard to actually define the term “sustainable fashion.” It is known that sustainable fashion requires a collective effort on the part of designers when it comes to their product designs and how they can produce less waste.
Sustainable Fashion in Los Angeles – The Story of a Los Angeles Fashion Brand
It has been estimated that around 83% of all clothing made in America is produced in Los Angeles. There are also multiple designers who have started to produce clothes on a hyper-local level as well as recycling materials and producing clothing items that can be worn over and over again for many years.
In an online interview, Mary Price, of the clothing brand Ocean + Main, said she wanted to create a clothing brand that was a true representation of the “ethos of Los Angeles. I’ve been in the business for 30 years and have seen the copious amounts of waste in production across the globe. And the way that we treat people and the planet to produce garments has gotten so far away from how we used to manufacture. Between making our clothes and growing our food, we’ve just gotten so far from the source.”
As part of the business model for her brand, there is no single use plastic. Her clothes are shipped in cloth bags and the materials she uses are either biodegradable or upcycled. As part of her local production efforts, each item of clothing is made within a few blocks of downtown Los Angeles. There are also no mass production efforts as the company only produces what it is able to sell.
According to Price, “There’s so much chaos created in the production of our clothes, from overproduction to overconsumption,” Price says. “In everything we do, we want to look at that decision. Is this creating calm or is it creating more chaos for people on the planet? So if it’s creating calm, we feel like it’s the right decision and we move forward with it.”
Sustainable Fashion in Los Angeles – Are There Fair Labor Practices?
One of the most important items that has been shown to separate a sustainable clothier from other producers of clothing is the way they treat the employees who cut and sew the clothes. Last year, the Labor Department surveyed over four dozen manufacturers. They found that 80% of those they surveyed were violating labor laws, which is actually a practice that has been going on for years in the fashion industry. One of the reasons this occurs on a regular basis is that many manufacturers pay per item instead of by the hour. Because of this practice, one manufacturer was found to be paying its garment workers as little as $1.58 per hour. Think about the low prices of some clothing items. If the clothes are able to be purchased at a cheap price, they are likely also produced by laborers who make low wages at their jobs. If a company wants to be known as a sustainable fashion business, they need to be able to find the right balance between affordable clothing items and paying workers fairly to manufacture the items. Plus, they will want to make sure they are providing a work environment that is safe and comfortable. Price has stated that both full-time and part-time garment workers in her shop make more than the “individual living wage benchmark” per hour. Because of this, the cost to the consumer might be higher so consumers are encouraged to change their shopping habits and even use their own creativity to create their own style and reduce their overall consumption.