Couturiers and designers across the world are facing a throw-away culture that glamorizes fleeting trends and ephemeral designs. In our short-attention-span era, ideas and the products that facilitate our lives have experienced a similar devaluation. Sustainable shopping practices, such as investing in quality pieces that last, can help customers find wardrobe mainstays in a sea of fast-fashion.

Fast-fashion commodifies designs of the moment to create cheap and trendy clothing and accessories that have no longevity. In an effort to stave off the increasing social and environmental impact of these disposable trends, as well as to elevate daily wear, it’s imperative to value craftsmanship and utility over the alluring call of whatever is in vogue at the time.

Don't waste money on fast evaporating fashion choices. Instead, invest in timeless legacy statements that have a longlasting, generational impact.

Social and Environmental Impact

Clothing and the accessories we wear become a colorful and textured extension of ourselves, from the dapper business suit we wear to work to the casual wear reserved for weekend escapades. Sometimes, however, we can become disconnected from the journey a watch, blazer, or piece of jewelry took to end up in our wardrobe. While a product’s origin is a heavy marketing point for many brands, consumers should also consider how the product was made.

A long line of manufacturers and processors fuel the industry’s breakneck speed and demanding market. Most conventional clothing items, for example, are often composed of a mix of threads, and commercial-scale technology can’t separate these fabrics for reuse. If the fabrics are dyed, they can’t be recolored. This supply-chain waste creates a single-use industry akin to the mounting plastic water bottle problem plaguing the world’s oceans.

Estimates suggest that the fashion industry ranks as the fifth most polluting industry in the world. As luxury designers roll out captivating and colorful new trends during a slew of fashion weeks every year, shops line their stores with mass-produced fast-fashion pieces inspired by luxury fashion trends at bargain-basement prices, and the cycle continues. Consumers fall prey to discount prices and short-lived fashion crazes that have unintended consequences.

According to a report from the UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme, the average piece of clothing has a lifespan of about one to three years before it’s disposed of. In the U.S., Americans throw away about 13 million tons of textiles and accessories annually, or about 85 percent of their wardrobe. As landfills fill up and recycling programs become overwhelmed, the problem of resource waste compounds.

In terms of social repercussions, throw-away culture and the fast-fashion phenomenon is forcing companies to drive their production facilities overseas to countries that don’t have oversight and strict regulations for buildings, working conditions, and wages. For example, factory hubs in Bangladesh have had casualties from buildings collapsing and other community disruptors such as contaminated waterways and mounds of clothing piling up along the streets.

Our insistence on filling entire walk-in closets instead of being more discerning with our wardrobe choices comes with tremendous social consequences. Factory workers overseas are often paid an insufficient wage to live. Minimal pay forces workers to work long hours in poor working conditions.

Building a Sustainable and Timeless Look.

The litany of problems brought on by a disconnected market and consumer base is worth fighting against. The solution would be to avoid the trap of the “new is always better” ethos. Lured by cheap costs, these fast-fashion trends are hard to resist. Ending the cycle of short-lived aesthetics could also put a considerable dent on social and environmental pollution around the world.

In a world dominated by throw-away products, many designers are undertaking the task of making their processes and products more sustainable without sacrificing style and originality. Consumers can look for companies that try to reduce their supply chain wastes, reuse material to create their clothing or accessories, or create high-quality pieces that last for generations.

Luxury shouldn't be only about wearing the latest trends, but about social responsibility, freedom of expression, and innovation. Building a sustainable wardrobe requires sustainable shopping practices. Buying wardrobe mainstay items can reduce the need to replace items every year or few months. Instead, these items will stay with the wearer for decades to come.

Consumers can create a capsule wardrobe, which is a pared-down collection of items with a focus on maximizing the number of outfit combinations possible. All garments, jewelry and a wide range of complementary accessories should be able to match and provide an appropriate representation of a person’s style and personality.

When the capsule wardrobe is complete, maintaining the quality of these pieces is crucial and simple to do. Jewelry should be polished periodically, clothing should be selected with an eye toward durability and versatility.

William Henry

William Henry is the anti-commodity brand that seeks to delight, surprise, and thrill those who dare welcome legacy and luxury instead of the rampant uninspired and spiritless trends. From our stylish jewelry to our writing instruments and pocket knives, we go against the prototypical grain of mass-production in favor of uniqueness, craftsmanship, and utility. Our artisans spend countless hours crafting mainstay pieces that can be passed on for generations.

Shop our pocket knives, writing instruments, money clips, cuff links, jewelry, and accessories for a deep dive into classic and contemporary designs. Each piece is handcrafted to perfection so that no two pieces are ever the same. Our penchant for sourcing prehistoric fossils, exotic woods, meteoric rock, precious gemstones, and more make our pieces last for the long haul. Our master artisans imbue their personal mark into pieces that keep your entire look together.

Embracing classic and original designs mixed with modern flairs can help consumers feel more confident and maintain a consistent look for years to come. As the fashion industry continues to develop and refine, consumers must perform their due diligence and consume responsibly. Regaining control of our purchasing decisions empowers us to extend that confidence and self-expression throughout our lives.