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Comment: Does island life promote 'fast fashion'?

Comment: Does island life promote 'fast fashion'?

Monday 22 July 2019

Comment: Does island life promote 'fast fashion'?


A local student, who recently moved to ditch her online shopping addiction, is calling for changes to the high street to help stop islanders being lured by the unethical world of 'fast fashion'.

Fashion is a large part of our lives, with the British Fashion Council estimating that the British fashion industry contributes £26billion to the UK economy each year.

But how much does island life impact our spending habits and impact on the environment?

Student Imi Dobber raises these questions, as she makes the case for islanders to make an effort to slow the growth of fast fashion...

"Think back to the last time you strolled down the bustling St. Helier high street. How many people did you see wearing the same top, dress or jeans as one another, or the mannequin in the window?

It would be absurd to blame our lack of individualism only on the fact we live on an island. However, the severe lack of choice in Jersey certainly exacerbates it.

Within Jersey it feels like the gradual death of the high-street has been lingering for as long as I can remember, and, as a teenager, the lack of clothing choice is blatant.

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Pictured: There are multiple empty shops in town.

Like many others, I therefore turn to the unlimited assortment of garments available on the internet - and this is where it gets dangerous.

Once captured by the flashing banners of ASOS and its endless supply of clothes, its near impossible to escape.

With such an abundance of clothing available online, with as many as 5,000 tops available from one website alone, it's easy to see why so many of us consider the internet the first stop for purchasing clothes.

As my addiction to online shopping grew, with packages arriving every other day, and my mum’s encounters with the delivery man awkwardly mounting, I started questioning how much I was feeding into the 'fast fashion' industry.

If you're unsure what fast fashion is, consider the recent uproar over a bikini sold for as little as £1 by online retailer Missguided. How could manufacturers possibly be paid fairly?

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Pictured: Online shopping has reduced shopping on high streets.

In essence, fast fashion is where trends change quicker than the seasons (dooming 'new' items to landfill in mere months) and clothing is sold at unsustainably - and sometimes unethically - low prices. 

Upon my sister's suggestion, I downloaded an app that provides an ethical guide to online shopping. It was awfully enlightening.

Did you know fashion is second only to oil as the world’s largest polluter? Last year, the UK binned clothes worth £12.5billion last year, with over 300,000 tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill. 

Fortunately, there are alternatives, such as charity shops.

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Pictured: 300,000 tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill from the UK.

Jersey fortunately has a plethora of charity shops (over 15!), and this guilt-free method of shopping has numerous benefits.

Not only can you purchase unique and diverse items, but you can get them for competitively low prices - something which ultimately led to my exponential collection of impractical but adorable bags.

Given that today's trends are often inspired by previous decades, charity shops provide a way of keeping up, while also reducing your carbon footprint.

By doing so, a sense of individuality is more easily born, and, in the process, you can help the islands remarkable charities - avoiding the 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emitted each year by the fast fashion industry.

To continue the local fight-back against fast fashion, there should also be a strategy to introduce new shops into the vacant spaces blighting the high street and close consideration of how what we put there will impact islanders' habits.

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Pictured: Charity shops are a great alternative to high-street shops.

We could more local sustainable boutiques, or ensure there is greater research into the fashion giants we allow to this island, and actively try to avoid those which exploit cheap labour in developing countries.

Likewise, I believe there is a market for vintage and kilo shops on the island. 

Following the surge of growth in second-hand apps like Depop, of which 90% of users are under 26, Jersey is the ideal place to welcome a hub for designer and vintage clothes.

Clearly island life has a profound impact on where we shop and, as a consequence, is promoting fast fashion - but this can change.

Cutting fast fashion out of our lives in Jersey will by no means be an easy task, but it all starts with awareness."

Imi Dobber is a Project Trident work experience student with Bailiwick Express. 

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