Fashion is multi-layered. It's built with vision, passion, power, persistence, and unique voices. Fashion is a means of self-expression and of creation. It's a means of entertainment and it ignites imagination for both producers and consumers alike.
But fashion is also very frustrating, because despite all the positive, glistening aspects of fashion, the industry has its darker sides.
Maxine Bédat is the CEO and co-founder of Zady, a fashion brand on a mission to create the best products from the ground up. In doing so, the brand aims to share the stories behind the products so that consumers understand the value of what they own.
This week, Zady announced the launch of a new project called "The New Standard." According to a press release from the company, the project is:
"A platform that unveils important information about the extensive issues that continue to stem from production in the fashion industry. [It] serves to empower consumers on how and why we should shop better, and is the first time the far-ranging environmental and social impacts of the industry can be seen. Through sharing these findings, Zady is holding a mirror to the fashion industry and the devastating impact it has on our oceans, drinking water, forest, climate change, and the world's people to help consumers vote with their dollars for clean clothes."
The company has released a series of research, infographics and statistics to reveal some harsh truths regarding fashion pollution and our climate, oceans, forests, soil and water.
And it's not too pretty.
Waste from textiles has increased 400 percent over the past five years.
Wood-based fibers used in clothing have been implicated in rainforest deforestation.
A lot of "fake leather is made from polyvinyl chloride (known as PVC), a product that contains, among other toxic chemicals, phthalates. Greenpeace calls PVC 'the most damaging plastic on the planet.'"
The oceans are affected, too.
But it doesn't stop there. Fashion is also one of the largest employers of slave and child labor.
And "only two percent of apparel companies source from suppliers that pay workers living wage," the fashion brand says.
According to a report from International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2013, monthly minimum wages from the US's top apparel-exporting countries are as follows: Bangladesh: $39 per month, India: $71, Pakistan: $79, Sri Lanka: $73, Viet Nam: $78, China: $138 (Guangdong) to $262 (Shanghai).
But instead of just drawing attention to the problem, Zady works to find a solution.
Zady's fall/winter collection, "The Essentials Collection," considers the damaging affects of fashion on the environment and ensures that the products are healthy for the environment and are made under proper production tactics.
The collection's principals, according to Zady, are as follows:
"design for longevity; utilize the highest quality fibers that also have a low footprint; work directly, as partners, with the supply chain to ensure a low impact from farm to final factory; and support American factories and excellence in production with domestic cut and sew."
For example, Zady has teamed up with United By Blue, a company that for every product sold, "removes one pound of trash from our world's oceans and waterways," according to their website.
Their site also provides an interactive experience for each visitor, filled with information and helpful insight into fashion and the ways in which we can make environmentally-friendly choices.
Perhaps with this knowledge, designers, consumers, producers, and other brands can help make the fashion industry something the Earth itself will love.
Visit Zady for more information and a complete compilation of research and references.