As the clothing industry rapidly changes due to increases in consumerism, so does the demand for fast fashion.
Alex Andradoiron, a fashion student in Prague, is exploring new ways to incorporate sustainability into her own garment designs through the development and use of biodegradable materials.
She advocates for slow fashion and ethically sourced materials while exploring the artistic and structural sides of garment creation. Alex ensures the source materials are environmentally friendly through the use of deadstock fabrics, vintage furs, and renewable materials, unlike the low-quality materials produced by fast fashion companies.
With 46,740 photos posted to Instagram every minute and over 400 million daily users, social media is producing content at a higher rate than ever before, according to data analyst Bernard Marr. In turn, consumers are purchasing 60 percent more clothing yet wearing it for half as long, as estimated by the UN Environment Programme.
TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram perpetuate these trend cycles at an accelerated pace, creating what is known as micro-trends, a popular clothing item or style that lasts for a short period of time. As consumers struggle to keep up with what is considered fashionable, they turn to fast-fashion brands to offset the costs of new garments.
Brands such as Shein, Mango, and H&M create huge environmental harm, with an estimated one truckload of unused fabrics dumped and burned every second, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. These brands’ use of low-quality materials and cheap construction materials is a result of these short-term trends.
Alex’s collection and designs focus on creating the opposite impact, creating handmade pieces with high-quality materials that have been carefully selected. While not made for everyday wear, the designs’ stylized structures go against mainstream trends, instead opting for unconventional structuring and processes.
“I’m focusing on the sourcing of material as a key aspect of my project, of my collection. Material will range anywhere from used construction tarp, to latex, to deadstock fabric, vintage fur. And just really trying to focus on resourcefulness and getting creative with it,” says Alex.
Latex is the star of the collection due to its vegan, biodegradable, and carbon-negative nature. Derived from rubber trees, the material has proven difficult to work with but rewarding. The unconventional process of working with the rubber-based textile means that it must be handled not as a fabric but as a material, forcing Alex to learn, through trial and error, new non-traditional construction processes not used when working with standard textiles.
“Making this material, I’m on my hands and knees pouring this liquid latex with inks, dried pigmented powders, and charcoal – it’s difficult, especially the construction aspect of it. You don’t sew latex because it creates weak points, so experimenting with different glues and just really trying to stay sustainable has been challenging.”
Reducing harm caused by consumerist habits starts at a personal level by being mindful of the clothing that is being purchased. While social media sets the tone for what society views as stylish, shoppers themselves must decide which of these trends they follow.
Alex suggests investing in garments with high standards of construction, especially pieces that are classic and can be styled and worn for years while still aligning with personal preferences.
“Finding quality pieces that last a long time, and if you can’t afford a quality piece from a new brand, then buying second hand. There are so many quality pieces that are vintage, and the construction of them is way higher quality than today’s methods of garment construction.”
With social platforms exposing the population to a constant influx of new media content, new fashion trends are becoming popularized at a speed never seen before. With this, the unique aspects of personal style have fallen behind as many buyers shop to copy the clothing items they have seen marketed through social media.
Alex believes that defining your own personal fashion taste is an essential step for combating clothing waste. She advocates for buying pieces that resonate with consumers instead of pieces that are perceived as popular at the time of purchase, as well as not letting the fear of not fitting in stop purchasers from buying the clothing items that they love.
“No matter what, you are going to get judged by someone, since everyone’s style is different. Just stay true to what you truly like, because no matter what, would you rather be judged by someone who you don’t really relate to as much or people that you do look up to?”