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The Green Edit by Jenah St. #1

Shopping Beyond Our Limits - Part 1

with Rima Mehta

Fast fashion is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and resource scarcity worldwide. While overconsumption is not a new problem, the apparel industry is growing (and consuming resources) at alarming rates.We sat down with Rima Mehta, Jenah St. friend and sustainable development MS, to learn about the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion and how recycling your clothes and accessories can help alleviate global waste and pollution problems. 
This article is part 1 in our fast fashion mini series.  


- Pricing 
- Material 
- Lowered Standards 
- Shopping Habits 
- Birth of Online Fashion


The share of the population with disposable income has grown at unprecedented rates, with 160 million people entering the middle class every year. For major retailers, this means an explosion in customer base, and more output—in the last 15 years, clothing production has doubled. 

We have seen the rise of FAST FASHION giants in recent years. How have these companies changed their value proposition to accommodate a new consumer base?

Clothing is becoming cheaper and cheaper. The average middle-class customer can afford more items of clothing per euro than ever before, resulting in more material consumption. All of this low-cost clothing comes from a high level of competition in the fashion industry and the popularity of cheaper, easy-to-produce synthetics.

As we always want new, on trend, and cheaper clothing, how do these manufacturers deliver and compensate in their supply chain?

To accommodate this demand, producers hunt for ways to reduce costs. This leads us to our third cause of fast fashion: loss of quality. When manufacturers are looking to make clothing as cheaply as possible, they choose lower quality fabrics and manufacture on shorter timelines with less attention to detail. Cutting corners in manufacturing means items are made to lower standards and do not last very long, adding to the volume of apparel in landfills. It also leads to aggressively low wages for workers in this industry in order to feed profitable margins.

How do our shopping habits today, vs 15 years ago, fuel the machine that is fast fashion?

Consumers are shopping far more often, purchasing an average of one article of clothing per week. Today, an average person buys 60% more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago, and they keep that item for just one year. This is partly due to the influence of social media and the high turnover of fashion “seasons” and trends. Where retailers used to offer 4 collections per year, many large retailers now have as many as 52 collections in a year. Stores are always offering new items, enticing consumers to return and shop more often in search of something even more “on trend.”

We all love online shopping, but how is this “convenience mentality” harmful?

The convenience and ease of online shopping has facilitated the rise of fast fashion. When shopping online, consumers have 24/7 direct access to their favorite brands. We love the ease that online shopping provides, but it also increases the speed of trend turnover. Brands can now communicate with consumers via social media to highlight new trends and show even more products. Consumers have the opportunity to buy more than ever before and that has some major environmental and social consequences.

Why does Jenah St. choose to take part in the “slow fashion” movement?

Jenah St. bags are made out of an Ecolabel certified material. This certification is one of the EU’s most stringent environmental standards that looks at product life-cycles from raw material extraction, to production, distribution, and disposal. Jenah St. values finding and using sustainably sourced materials and manufacturing operations that allow us to be fashionable, but without the “guilt” of overtly expanding our ecological footprints. The Jenah St. collection was made to be timeless and durable additions to your wardrobe. Plus, the new Recycle Program is designed to encourage second consumption, while recognizing our desires for new and special accessories. 
- Kharas, H. (2017). The unprecedented expansion of the global middle class. The unprecedented expansion of the global middle class. Brookings Institute. Retrieved from 
- Euromonitor International. (2016). Apparel and Footwear in 2016: Trends, Developments and Prospects. Retrieved from 
- Remy, N., Speelman, E., & Swartz, S. (2016). Style that's sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula. McKinsey. Retrieved from

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More about Rima Mehta

A native of the evergreen Pacific Northwest, Rima grew up hiking and exploring the wilderness. Her passion for conservation grew after living in different contexts around the globe, seeing firsthand that a single action could have many effects for people on the other side of the world. Rima's work in social impact ranges from waste reduction and clean energy to financial inclusion. She currently resides in Switzerland, where she pursues a graduate degree in Sustainable Development and eats lots of (sustainable) chocolate. 



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