While working in the television and film industry I come across many different fashion brands. Many, because of the fashion culture, are fast fashion.
Fast Fashion (n.) clothing created rapidly, often of poor (or lesser) quality, that is cheap for the consumer to purchase.
I wanted to learn a little bit about fashion brands known as slow fashion.
Slow Fashion (n.) clothing created with a social and economical consciousness; usually of higher quality and often more expensive than their fast fashion counterparts.
One brand I have been working with recently has been Eileen Fisher. I enjoy their items, color choices, and often choice of fabrics, so I wanted to delve a little more into their company information. I started with their website which has a tab titled "behind the label". Subcategories include: organic fibers, undyed and natural dyes, human rights, fair trade, waste no more, etc. These sub categories are promising! (I had already researched a little into some supposed slow fashion brands so I knew Eileen Fisher was on the list)
My first visit was the "waste no more" section. I learned that Eileen Fisher takes back your Eileen Fisher brand clothes in any condition. Lightly worn pieces are resold on their website Eileen Fisher Renew. This is an amazing way to get their classic pieces at a discounted price. It's like thrifting online! I can buy used clothes in my pjs! (I would like to take this moment to mention this is not a sponsored post nor and ad. I was genuinely curious about Eileen Fisher's practices and equally excited about their Renew program)
Clothing that is not able to be resold is turned into art pieces, accessories, and pillows. In my research I could not find any way to purchase any of the artwork (which I would happily display in my apartment), but you can see some of the works at different exhibitions around the world.
In addition to recycling and renewing their old lines, Eileen Fisher has pledged to use only organic cotton and linen by 2020. They are also hoping to only use recycled polyester in their clothes. In 2020 they also want to have roughly under half of their dyed clothing dyed with responsible usage of chemicals and water. Hopefully they can get all the way to 100%! I was impressed with the fact they map their entire supply chains, which is sadly not the norm in today's fashion industry.
I wanted to know more about what happens to Eileen Fisher clothing that is already in stores but doesn't sell well so I found a contact on their website and sent in my inquiry. Within a week I had an in-depth answer to my inquiry. A lovely woman named Joan sent me an email explaining Eileen Fisher's dedication to sustainability in their design and construction process. Here are a few excerpts from that email:
"For in-store inventory that remains unsold at the end of a season, these items are consolidated from our stores (and from our department store partners such as Nordstrom, Neiman's, etc.) into a 'pack and hold' inventory which is then shipped to our EILEEN FISHER Company Stores (sometimes also know as our 'outlet' stores). The items our Company stores receive are held in inventory for a designated time period and then made available again (as past-seasons' merchandise) for another sale iteration at significantly discounted prices."
"We do not 'job out' clothing, burn clothing or, in any other way, of 'get rid' of clothing other than to sell it. We will lower the prices as necessary until the product sells through."
I am so pleased with this response from Joan. The fact that this brand can trace their clothing items from raw materials to its final sale, gives me hope in the viability of fashion.
I know Eileen Fisher can be rather expensive for some people, so I hope if that is you, you check out their Renew section. But, I am also planning to find more slow fashion companies (maybe some less expensive options) and highlight them.
It makes me happy that although I work in an industry that can be wasteful, there are some making deliberate steps to become sustainable.
*Wanted to note again: I was not paid or asked to highlight Eileen Fisher or any other slow fashion company. I am genuinely interested in researching slow fashion and anything else in our industry that is better for our planet.