October 17th, 2020 / posted by paularath

When I was a little girl, my mother and maternal grandmother told me there were some things in your wardrobe you should never skimp on: shoes and lingerie: “Buy the very best that you can afford,” they said.

Shoes and lingerie are the basis for everything else you wear, and help set the tone. They can affect your posture, gait, comfort and most other aspects of your appearance. (Woe be to camel toe, muffin top, wobbly walk and undies lines of any kind.)

In 2020, however, I would like to expand my mother’s and grandmother’s advice to include all the clothing and accessories we buy. In addition to treating our crowded closets with more respect and restraint, we simply must consider our impact on the environment. Fast fashion is a current closet culprit in so many ways.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 2015 the U.S. generated 11.9 million tons (75 pounds per person) of textile waste. That’s an increase of 750 percent since 1960. And most of that waste went into landfills.

Of course in 1960, Forever 21, H&M and Zara didn’t exist.

The New York Times recently reported that Zara releases 20,000 new designs a year. And because of companies like Zara, clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014.

It’s not just the landfill created by fast fashion that’s affecting the environment. The chemicals these companies employ in the making, dyeing and treating of fabrics are harmful enough that the EPA identifies and regulates many fashion factories as hazardous waste generators.

Fast fashion has been around now for several generations, and many of us have succumbed to its temptations. That’s why I think it’s time for a blog series on how to choose clothes that are going to last.

I will review the lessons learned from my ancestors as well as the edicts that I have followed over many years of reporting on, and creating, fashion. (You may not know that I spent two years studying in the Fashion Technology Department at Honolulu Community College, followed by three years of designing in my own studio in Kakaako.)

Please join me on this journey.

Paula Rath

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