December 07, 2016
Fashion Waste. If you are going to tackle it, you have to question something fairly fundamental. Most definitions of fashion imply something that is popular for a defined period of time. The industry is geared for this, churning out entirely new offerings according to the seasons. Some fast fashion brands have gone even further, offering new pieces on a weekly basis. Retailers crave new products because consumers have grown accustomed to constant change. If we are prepared to celebrate the impermanence of fashion, then we have to deal with waste. In the UK we have almost a complete churn, according to WRAP we buy 1.14 million tonnes of clothing each year to replace the 1.13 million tonnes we discard...
There are lots of ways to resolve this, but for this post I am going to focus on one of them.
At Elvis & Kresse our solution is to abandon the concept of fashion. We don’t do seasons. We focus on executing classic, utilitarian design with high quality craftsmanship. You shouldn’t ever need a second belt from us. Even if you grow or shrink, we will help your belt adjust. We will repair it for you. We are happy to do MOTs, to keep products in great running order. There are lots of brands that work this way, who make well and make once. But most of them are not in the fashion arena.
My Mother still uses pots and pans that she received as wedding gifts, back in 1971. Her lifetime guaranteed deep orange Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish is still in service. The website www.buymeonce.com features all kinds of products that are built to last, including the Le Creuset classics. There are other great examples too. Well built, solid wood furniture should easily last several lifetimes. Elvis made the chair in the picture from a reclaimed whiskey barrel. The wood was already a century old when he started! Another personal favourite is the Alberta Boot Company; their cowboy boots can be resoled and repaired forever. I inherited a pair of these from my younger brother when I was about 16, I still wear them all winter and I am 39! Elvis & I are also fans of the Saddleback Leather company. They make excellent leather bags, the kind ‘they’ll fight over it when you’re dead’. If you have a dog it probably isn’t the best idea to read founder Dave Munson’s post about Blue - but maybe you should read it. There is something uniquely inspiring about people who wear their heart on their sleeve. I think it makes them better craftspeople. Emotional attachment is actually quite important if you are going to love and cherish something, if you are going to keep using it, decade after decade.
Although many products that will last are also quite costly, there are many which aren’t, many which can be acquired second hand on ebay and many which will end up being cheaper as they won’t have to be replaced. Maybe it requires a bit of research, but trust me, buying this way whenever you can is absolutely worth it.
Don’t be fashionable, be forever.