Lethbridge College Slows Down Fast Fashion

Connector Winter 2017

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

Six fashion students at Lethbridge College are spearheading an innovative applied research project in conjunction with a strong business plan to “Slow down Fast Fashion” and help save the planet.

It started in a Sustainable Fashion course where students researched the impact of fast fashion on the environment, as well as the ethical ramifications.

Fast fashion is clothing produced quickly and cheaply to reach the consumer almost instantly. Companies outbid each other to meet the high demands of first world countries; third world countries workers are paid below living wages, and factories are not well maintained.

These cheaply constructed garments fall apart quickly, are tossed into the garbage or given to second-hand stores. Flooded with items they cannot sell, stores throw them away or ship them to underdeveloped countries where these garments outsell and destroy thriving local industries. What doesn’t sell is thrown away.

Fast fashion is demanded by the very people who oppose many other forms of pollution and waste. Who doesn’t want to purchase the cheaper item?

Lethbridge College’s fashion students are taking second-hand store cast offs, saving them from the going into landfills, and repurposing them into sellable accessories and garments. They also accept fabric waste from cutting, clothing, and household donations.

Accessories and garments are sold in pop-up and permanent boutiques on campus and across the city. Proceeds go directly back into the project until it is financially sustainable and then will go toward appropriate charities and/or humane relief.

Fashion students are going into high schools to educate the students about fast fashion and what they can do to help stop this. There will be workshops on campus, at high schools, and throughout the community to teach how to prolong the lives of clothing – sewing on buttons, mending seams, fixing zippers, hemming, with the recipients receiving mini sewing kits for future projects.

Hang tags and promotional materials will have educational information as well, as this factor is of upmost importance in the project.

The entire Fashion Design & Sustainable Production program is now involved in the project, with students creating clothing out of repurposed fabrics/garments, analyzing and merchandising the boutiques, designing product and marketing materials, and creating displays. Involvement now ensures perpetuity of the project.

Submitted by Brenda Brandley, Lethbridge College