Designers looking for waste - Trashion heroine Reet Aus

Reet Aus organic 2009

In the early 1990s big chains and worldwide distributors launched what is called “fast fashion”. Ever since then basic decisions on the market are based on economic statements. Instead of production development and new design, the lowest possible price of the product is most important. Fashion follows poverty: Producers need to find the cheapest fabric, the technologically easiest production-process and the subcontractor with the lowest cost. “Fast fashion” speeds up the pace of consumption. Today, a staggering amount of industrial last season stock end up in landfills after they were not sold at shops. Labels are forced to rather waste their unsold stock to protect their brand image than to recycle it. Sometimes brands even make their employees cut the unsold products into pieces (so nobody could wear them anymore) and throw them into the trash. Open secret in the fashion business is: To give away unsold stock is forbidden. That would harm reputation of the label. As a consequence clothes have lost their value 100% after the season is over. The result is perishing resources and imperceptible amounts of waste. There are no penalties or mandatory recycle processes for sorting, reusing and recycling this industrial textile waste. Most of what we throw out could be valuable material for the creation of a new product. It´s such a shame especially if the discarded clothes are from quality labels! This is an unfortunate truth in fashion.

So how can we reduce the amount of waste they produce? I have a few ideas of my own.. EU should support (tax discounts) anyone that decides to use recyled material over new. I´m sure this alone would ecourage labels to re-think their waste policy. Also waste penalties should be raised so recycling would become a more reasonable option for brands. But this is just me. I´m sure the bigger picture s a bit more complicated than this.

Estonian recycle fashion designer Reet Aus (my new trashion heroine!!) is tired of this. She is passionate about waste, things that nobody wants. She has worked with many companies to start up a campaign to help create an environmentally friendly fashion industry. Now she is introducing the green fashion community to the upcycling campaign Trash to Trend which aims at seeking new solutions for use of textile waste. They have planned to build a forum for the fashion industry where manufacturers and shops can submit information on their industrial leftovers and unsold stockist (calling it waste mapping). The goal of mapping textile waste is to get an overview of the industrial waste produced in Estonia/Europe/the world and to create an independent web site that helps find versatile but realistic solutions to creating an environmentally friendly textile industry. The mapping includes manufacturers on one side and designers on the other. Manufacturers can indicate the amount and type of discarded textile waste they have and designers can find this with a few clicks and use it as raw material for their collections. The platform will also serve as data source for fashion industry related background information. This is a wonderful project and I wish Reet success with her mission.

Btw. Reet Aus a shining example in promoting trancparency in fashion. Her collection materials are not just labelled as "recycled" but defined where the recycled material actually comes from; consumers, last seasons stock or industry cutting waste. If you have a recycle fashion label maybe you should consider is doing the same...

Reet Aus clothes hang label

But that´s no all folks! Reet will also launch an ethical fashion industry film documentary campaign called “Out of Fashion”. In the film she observes (media) actions, has consultations with influential environmental organizations and activists, collecting signatures, lobbying in fashion councils and in the European Parliament. The documentary is directed by Jaak Kilmi and will air in cinemas autumn 2012. Can´t wait!

Out Of Fashion -documentary trailer from Reet Aus on Vimeo.

Outi Les Pyy

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  1. Amazing pics!

    Chcek out my blog too :)

  2. very nice :)

  3. when I worked at one of these fancy home boutiques, sometimes we would have to destroy furniture before putting it in the trash. If something was damaged on the sale floor, and the store was unable to sell it at a discount, eventually we would have to take it in the stockroom and tear it apart with crowbars (or smash it with hammers), then take the pieces to the garbage.

    And you're right, the worry is protecting the brand. The company couldn't risk creating a situation where customers know that they can subtly chip the finish of a lamp or cut the upholstery with a small knife when no one is looking - and come back later and buy that object at half off.

    I always hated the waste. One manager allowed a stock employee to sneak a piece home once. Once. The best I could do was to ask if I could cut the upholstery fabric (in this case, really nice leather) off of a chair in panels and take it home with me, before I tore the frame apart. They let me do that, at least; I made a corset top out of it!

  4. I'm so proud that someone is taking action on this issue! I'd certainly be interested in getting involved in Trash to Trend; we're constantly on the lookout for new sources for material! Our line PopLove is another recycled fashion line, and it can be SO difficult to find quality material at times. Even now, the pieces that exist in thrift shops are often poor quality and not worth using even for raw materials. I'll definitely be checking it out!