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Perspectives shift about fast fashion after learning about mass-produced clothing, study shows

Fast fashion and low prices responsible for clothing disposals
Figure: Perspectives shift about fast fashion after learning about mass-produced clothing, study shows

Fast fashion focuses on quick production at lower cost to deliver frequent collection tempting shoppers with constant newness and convincing them that the items they have are no longer fashionable. But the growing market of cheap item has been criticised of its impact on environment. A study shows that people have a significant impact about fast fashion when learn about impact of mass-produced clothing.

Academics arranged a workshop where they measured the behaviour of the participants and also asked to audit their wardrobes and keep journals. In the workshop, participants understood how long it takes to make clothes and the human and environmental cost of mass consumption of cheap clothing.

Participants filled a questionnaire before and after the workshops so that researchers could measure the changes in the ways they think, feel and act in relation to clothing. A total of 16 out of the 20 participants who completed a questionnaire said they would no longer buy “fast” fashion. Before the project 19 out of 23 had done so.

“We know the production of cheap clothes has serious social and environmental impacts. But we have also shown that it is possible to change people’s shopping behaviour by providing them with new skills and knowledge, with appropriate equipment and meeting spaces, and peers with whom they can share their thoughts,” said Professor Clare Saunders, from the University of Exeter, who led the study.

Participants in this project also toured The Natural Fibre Company, the Launceston-based wool mill, to learn how yarns are produced. They also witnessed spinning, dyeing and weaving thread, pattern cutting and knitting clothes.

Dr Joanie Willett from the University of Exeter, a conductor of the research said: “Having a deeper engagement with the clothing industry helped participants have a greater awareness of the time it takes to make clothes, and how garment construction started long before fabric is stitched together to make clothes. They were surprised by the processes required to create thread and construct cloth.”

Participants recorded their experience of making, adapting and thinking about clothes in their “clothing diaries” which they kept with them throughout the project. Also they used it as sketch books as recording their thoughts and feeling.

The study, published in the Journal of Arts and Communities and also conducted by Fiona Hackney, professor of fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University, Katie Hill from the University of Wolverhampton and Irene Griffin from Falmouth University. The research team hope to continue their work, scaled up, to see if the activities which worked can be seen on the high street.

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