In a previous article we have covered the main issues with fast fashion.
Read here: https://amaesha.com/category/fashion/start-here/
Today I would like to explore the business practises and processes of slow fashion brands with the focus on describing the efforts in how to make fashion more sustainable. To explore it I reached out to Dina Chavez the talent behind eco-label SixChel.
How would you describe the processes in slow fashion/ethical brands compared to fast fashion brand?
As a slow-fashion brand, we are able to cut cost and excess by taking pre-orders before we produce our collection. Taking pre-orders allows us to make small production runs with a guaranteed buyer, where as a fast-fashion company produces garments in mass to sell after production without knowing if those items will be bought with the potential of being discarded to wastelands. As an ethical brand it is also important to us to know who is making our garments. SixChel will not use factories with poor conditions and unfair wages. We believe in the garment worker and the talent they have to produce beautiful clothes. We do not take their talent and their hard work for granted. Since we are an American based company, SixChel finds it relevant to pay American garment workers fair wages…side note, not all American factories are in good condition or pay fair wages and we see a problem in this and are dedicated to help improve these conditions in our own country as well as across the world.
Could you tell me more about how you choose fabrics and colourings? Is being eco-friendly a factor in those decisions?
With this collection, I chose fabrics that were naturally produced. There are fabrics that are made out of recycled plastic bottles, which is great because it reduces the amount of waste created by plastic bottles. However, we don’t know the effects of wearing plastic on our bodies. One of the main reasons SixChel is a sustainable fashion brand is that I want to decrease the amount of chemicals in the fabric we wear. These chemicals do seep into our bodies through our sweat and into our pores. We are at the point in our industry where nothing is 100% sustainable, but we are making strides and SixChel is committed to get as close to 100% sustainability as much as possible.
What do you think, is it possible to create a garment in an eco-friendly way and still compete with the prices of fast fashion brands?
It is possible to create beautiful and trendy clothes using eco-friendly procedures. The difference and the challenge comes at the price point. Fast-fashion is cheap and it is so because they use the cheapest fabrics, which are chemically made and the cheapest labor, which is extremely unethical. However, when you purchase slow and eco-friendly products, you are not only helping to preserve our environment, you are paying fair wages to artisans who have pride in making the product. These products are also made well and have a longer lifetime than the fast-fashion shirt you just bought for $5.
Is being ethical a factor in the packaging for your brand? If so, how?
Yes, it is. We are using recycled products for our packaging and encourage our customers to recycle the packaging once you receive it. Again, nothing is 100%, but as SixChel grows and becomes more educated in the sustainable and eco-friendly industry, our products and packaging with improve.
Do you oversee what happens to the waste fabrics in the factories where your clothes are made?
At the moment, we are working with a factory that is in New York and SixChel is based in Austin. As production begins, I do plan to visit the factory to ensure transparency to our customers as well as their ethical practices. SixChel will request to receive all scraps to either recycle to a non-profit that recycles scraps of fabrics or keep it to make smaller hand-made projects.
What are your next plans or big steps on the journey to be an even more ethical brand?
We are interested in working with a company, Textile Exchange who educates brand on sustainable fabrics and an ethical supply chain. Again, SixChel is dedicated to our mission, preserving our environment and encouraging woman empowerment through fashion. We know we are not where we should be as an eco-friendly brand, we are learning and are determined to be as close to 100% sustainable and eco-friendly as possible.
What do you think is the biggest problem in the fashion industry now?
The biggest problem in the fashion industry right now is the dependence on fast-fashion to be a successful business. Consumers as a whole are not educated with the atrocities of the fast-fashion industry and to them, it’s cheap, cute and on trend. Why would someone want to buy eco-friendly if it is the complete opposite of that? The industry has to change itself and become more responsible for their practices and they must educate their consumers. This has to come from larger brands, because small fashion labels can only reach so many people and usually their customers are already aware of the negative impact of fast fashion and the industry.