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Discussions about the fashion industry thread

xeoniq

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I think the average Styleforumer would be more critical of their clothing purchases and any potential impacts than the average person would be; but the average person is part of a collective that determines a much more significant portion of environmental impacts than the combined users on this forum. However, I'm of the opinion that it is ridiculous to expect consumers to be responsible for environmental issues. I believe that because: 1) commercial impacts are many magnitudes greater than the sum total of consumer impacts and 2) the average consumer does not possess the information necessary to make ideal decisions for themselves (in terms of personal utility), let alone for the best interests of society/the environment. I don't think that even large companies can practice that consistently.

I believe accountability should ultimately lie with the government, who is meant to be responsible for creating a sustainable society for stakeholders and who have access to significant intelligence regarding industry and consumer impacts and behaviours together with the power to enforce controls on our behaviours. Of course, corruption, poor leadership, imperfect data, and other problems reduce their ability to carry out this role.

One example that comes to mind is the fact that in Australia, if all consumers were to cut their fresh water usage by 50% (an impossible level of restriction imo) it would only save a single percentage point of total water use because the agriculture, mining and other commercial industries use so much in their processes. The government restricts consumers, even fining them for certain behaviours during periods of drought, yet allows the commercial sector to go relatively unregulated because doing so could threaten "the economy". The government gets to look like it cares about drought, generates income from consumers who were washing their cars or some other temporarily heinous crime, and they don't rock the boat with the large conglomerates.

I don't think sustainability outcomes will improve until the government is forced to start regulating industry. While activists may assist with this, I don't believe "green" consumers will.
 

cb200

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Essentially I'm interested in whether style forum members base their purchasing decisions on sustainability issues, and if so to what degree.
I do take it into consideration but it's only part of the consideration. I don't buy many clothes and tend to wear the shit out of the things that I do like and repair things myself. I don't have a negative view of synthetics as I think there's allot of really bad stuff (rhymes with massive waste of water and modern slavery) that happens with more natural source fibers as well that can get hidden under an impression of a natural purity that's unearned.

I'm also in the apparel world for work and understand some of the complexity in production and choices made- and have seen what people are willing to pay for (both as consumers and for brands making good) and it's not sadly for most not for more sustainable and ethical products. If people aren't willing to pay the premium it's not going to get made.
 

dieworkwear

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I agree this is going to require a governmental solution.

When I interviewed my subject a few years ago (I'm not allowed to say their name or the company they work for, as everything was off the record), we talked about microplastics in the ocean. The person works as the head of the sustainability dept at a clothing company known for their (genuine) approach to environmental issues. I asked about those little balls people sell to catch mircoplastics, and he said that, while those certainly don't hurt, the real solution is implementing some kind of citywide filtering system. You can't solve this on a consumer level. You need governmental solutions.

I brought this up once on the forum, but in another thread, when we talked about environmental impacts. Greg noted that the two are connected -- if you get consumers to care, hopefully they will also vote in better politicians. Which is also a good point.
 

WhyUEarly

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@VinceCompost I care about sustainability when I purchase clothes. I also work in sustainability in my day job. There is so much complexity in sustainability that inevitably prioritizing one aspect of sustainability (e.g water use) comes at the expense of another aspect (gender equality).

In the interest of having a good discussion, I want to point out that it wasn't clear what type of "evidence" you are looking for, to prove whether SFers care about sustainability. Not to mention defining "average Styleforumer" is not a clear task. So those are some possible reasons people might find it difficult to answer your questions, especially when they've been discussed here so many times over the past decade+. Fwiw, it takes a long time (say a decade) to learn how to ask good questions in a particular academic subject.
 

Texasmade

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Essentially I'm interested in whether style forum members base their purchasing decisions on sustainability issues, and if so to what degree.

I've been repeatedly told that I am rude and presumptive for assuming that they would do otherwise, but so far no one has offered any convincing evidence to the contrary.
I care to some extent but I don't let that be my driving factor. I don't think about how this one item will leave a carbon foot print. It's more along the lines of will I get a lot of wear out of this piece of clothing.
 

clee1982

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@VinceCompost I care about sustainability when I purchase clothes. I also work in sustainability in my day job. There is so much complexity in sustainability that inevitably prioritizing one aspect of sustainability (e.g water use) comes at the expense of another aspect (gender equality).

In the interest of having a good discussion, I want to point out that it wasn't clear what type of "evidence" you are looking for, to prove whether SFers care about sustainability. Not to mention defining "average Styleforumer" is not a clear task. So those are some possible reasons people might find it difficult to answer your questions, especially when they've been discussed here so many times over the past decade+. Fwiw, it takes a long time (say a decade) to learn how to ask good questions in a particular academic subject.
never knew you work in that sector always thought until we put $$ amount on something it’s hard to compare even just to calculate combine cycle (like how do you weight co2 emission vs energy consumption vs water usage etc, to me it feels like adding orange and apples)
 

WhyUEarly

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never knew you work in that sector always thought until we put $$ amount on something it’s hard to compare even just to calculate combine cycle (like how do you weight co2 emission vs energy consumption vs water usage etc, to me it feels like adding orange and apples)
My job is a whole mess of things involving so many topics. For better or worse, I'm only getting busier because all of a sudden, ESG is everyone's favorite topic. I have my own personal opinions which I have to keep in check, but basically it's almost wack-a-mole. It's always good to pursue efficiency strategies since no one complains about spending less on materials and resources. Other than that, which aspect you prioritize is highly dependent on what region and vertical you look at.

Assigning a cost solves a lot of problems, but isn't a silver bullet since it leaves many issues unsolved. Without going too indepth into pedantic economics, a market only works when there's a mechanism for price discovery. If there isn't both a buy side and a sell side, it's impossible for price discovery to happen. An example of this is that we value the fish in the sea, but do not place an intrinisic value on seawater. So unless we start gaining the ability to negotiate with fish and ask them how many dollars fish are willing to pay humans not to pollute seawater, there can be no market for seawater, hence that's called market failure. Not an ideal example, but you get the idea.
 

peachfuzzmcgee

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Putting it all on consumers has forever been a way to obfuscate the true culprit of most of the worlds rampant pollution; the manufacturing industry.

Personal carbon footprint is mostly a scam to make people complacent that they are doing their part, when in reality it would always be better to use that same energy for pressuring politicians to take action in where it matters
 

clee1982

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My job is a whole mess of things involving so many topics. For better or worse, I'm only getting busier because all of a sudden, ESG is everyone's favorite topic. I have my own personal opinions which I have to keep in check, but basically it's almost wack-a-mole. It's always good to pursue efficiency strategies since no one complains about spending less on materials and resources. Other than that, which aspect you prioritize is highly dependent on what region and vertical you look at.

Assigning a cost solves a lot of problems, but isn't a silver bullet since it leaves many issues unsolved. Without going too indepth into pedantic economics, a market only works when there's a mechanism for price discovery. If there isn't both a buy side and a sell side, it's impossible for price discovery to happen. An example of this is that we value the fish in the sea, but do not place an intrinisic value on seawater. So unless we start gaining the ability to negotiate with fish and ask them how many dollars fish are willing to pay humans not to pollute seawater, there can be no market for seawater, hence that's called market failure. Not an ideal example, but you get the idea.
yup, I don't know how to address this market failure either, definitely feel like whacking a mole, a tax on every single type of public goods and pollution seems impossibly bureaucratic...
 

SimonC

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Couple of thoughts:

Former Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney delivered the 2020 Reith Lectures, with a really good articulation of how we had moved beyond a market economy to a market society. So I think we need to look broader than just the clothing industry; it is symptomatic of our societal (over)consumption patterns enabled by continued pursuit of cost efficiencies, which results in environmental and social externalities.

Within that, I agree with the view that individual consumer action can only go so far; much of this is actually consuming less - which is the opposite of the way our society is wired. We're just lucky that as both enthusiasts and presumably economically advantaged, we can afford to buy 'better' stuff and frame it as virtuous.

But within that - sure, it can be good to buy virtuous clothing. Eleven Eleven is an example of a brand that stands out to me with their 'seed to stitch' philosophy, emphasising manual and artisanal methods of production which are both environmentally beneficial, and socially supportive including retaining traditional skills.
 

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