Iris Notions is the antithesis of the exploitative and wasteful fast fashion industry. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion around sustainability, but Iris Notions wants to change that and equip people with the information to become conscious consumers. In order to understand the relationship between sustainability and the fashion industry, let’s go over some basics:
Sustainability has become a buzzword thrown around by many different companies and corporations, but what does it actually mean in this cultural context?
Put simply, sustainability is commonly defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
It has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet and profits.
With the rise of environmental movements across the world causing consumers to be made aware of the effects of their consumption habits, many companies have turned to greenwashing to keep profits high.
Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly.
Essentially, it is an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally sound products without making any real changes within the company or its products.
Fast fashion -
Fast Fashion is defined as a model of mass-producing cheaply made, “of-the-moment” items that are sold at a lower price point.
It forms a key part of the toxic system of overproduction and consumption that has made fashion one of the largest polluters in the world.
Here are 5 basic facts about fast fashion*:
- Right behind the oil industry!
- This is up 400% from two decades ago.
- A majority of these workers are women earning less than $3 per day.
- Partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds, courtesy of Monsanto.
- The rest end up in landfills or flooding markets in developing countries like Haiti where they are bought by the box and kill the local industry.
These harrowing facts do not even begin to scratch the surface of the atrocities committed by the fast fashion industry every single day. In short, the fashion industry values profit over people and the planet. To learn more about the subject check out the documentary The True Cost.
Slow Fashion -
Put simply, slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. It is a movement and approach to fashion which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, particularly focusing on sustainability.
It means buying better quality garments less often that will last for longer, and values fair treatment of people, animals, and the planet.*
While the discussion about the relationship between sustainability and fashion is extremely nuanced and complex, Iris Notions pledges to stay informed on these issues and spread awareness about the subject.
It is important to note that the most sustainable piece of clothing is the one that you already have in your closet. Iris Notions is aware that there is no such thing as a 100% sustainable brand or product, but here are some of the ways we are attempting to make a difference:
- Only buying secondhand, vintage, or true deadstock* fabrics
- Keeping and repurposing fabric scraps to minimize waste
- Using homemade recycled packaging for shipping
- All pieces are consciously handmade by Taitum in her home
- Great care and attention to detail is put into each piece with the intention of creating pieces that are made to last for years to come
- No animal products or derivatives of any kind are used in any pieces
- Pre-made items are created in small batches to prevent excess stock
- Made-to-order pieces prevent waste and allow for all sizes to be catered to
*What is deadstock?
There is a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding the term deadstock fabric, specifically within the sustainable fashion world. It is posed as being a more eco-conscious solution to the mass amounts of textile waste created by the industry. However, many companies use the term deadstock to refer to fabric that is actually overstock or available stock. This is an example of greenwashing.
Companies who claim to be using deadstock fabric use the argument that the fabric they purchase is "extra" and destined for the landfill. They purport that by using this fabric they are saving it from becoming waste. Unfortunately, this is untrue
Producing fabric takes mass amounts of resources and energy. It requires huge, complex machines that are difficult and time consuming to turn off, clean, and set up for the next fabric. It is cheaper for mills to produce extra fabric that they plan to sell at a discount than to shut the machines off after the order is fulfilled.
This means that in their basic costing, mills plan to sell x percent at full price and y percent at a discounted "deadstock" price. At no point are they calculating a percent going to the landfill. Remember mills are in the business of making money, not wasting it.
This fabric is referred to as available stock. Available stock fabric is fabric that a factory overproduces because they know that it will eventually sell. Companies take advantage of consumers' lack of manufacturing knowledge by using “deadstock” fabric as a loophole.
The true deadstock fabric that Iris Notions purchases is either vintage deadstock or from small brands such as A Thrifty Notion and The New Crafthouse who source fabric locally or directly from small designers. None of the deadstock fabric used by Iris Notions will ever be purchased from large wholesalers selling what is actually available stock.
For more information on the subject please check out this article