You can put two t-shirts side by side. One costs $8 and the other $68. At first glance, they appear identical or at least comparable, but there’s so much more to the journey of these two t-shirts and at a fundamental level, their values are disparagingly different.
Fast fashion is generally very trendy and cheaply mass produced. These days fast fashion brands offer dozens of micro-seasons per year. These are not timeless pieces meant to be staples in your closet for years. They are quick to disintegrate and fall out of style – in fact it’s their very purpose. Across the world, people are now consuming about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year – and many of those garments end up in our landfills in the same year!
At Grey Rock, we believe that slow fashion is about slowing down our consumption and purchasing clothing with more intention. The pieces I choose for our shop are curated with that in mind. I opt for classic, timeless items that will not go out of style in a season or 2. I source pieces that are higher quality so they will last longer in your wardrobe. I love when pieces can be worn in multiple ways with various outfit combinations so they get lots of value and “wear” out of any given item and still have a stylish wardrobe.
I read recently that by 2030, it is estimated the fashion industry will consume resources equivalent to two Earths. I find that unacceptable and unsustainable which is why I try to provide an alternative to my customers, so that they can be a part of the change we so badly need.
At Grey Rock, we also believe in progress over perfection. We are a judgement free shop, and never look down on anyone for not having a 100% eco-friendly wardrobe. It is about small steps, and doing things in a way that works best for you! We are all on our own journeys towards being more eco-friendly, and we are here to help you, no matter what point you are at in your journey. The customer that recently walked into my store wondered how the disparity between the cost of one t-shirt could be between $5 – $75? So to best explain this, I like to break it down to the following categories of People, Product and Planet.
One of the primary reasons fast fashion brands are able to sell a t-shirt at such a low price point is at the expense of not paying overseas labour a living wage. A worker in Bangladesh on average makes $95 a month usually working countless hours a day, every day of the week – nowhere near a living wage.This is why Grey Rock is committed to brands that are accountable for the conditions in which their clothes are made and who ensure their employees make a living wage. For me personally, I live in my favourite clothes and to know that what I choose to put on my body was made by someone who was fairly compensated -and it makes me feel good to wear those items on the daily. Wouldn’t you want to wear that kind of good karma every day?
I love to talk to our customers about fabric – I’m so passionate about sustainable textiles. It’s also one of the most significant factors in the cost of clothing. Typically fast fashion items are made from unsustainable, poor quality fabrics. At Grey Rock, I specifically choose brands that use high-quality often organic fabrics, in timeless designs. I want these garments to last in your closet and look the same after multiple washes as they did when you took them home from our shop. I always tell my customers that when you’re investing in better quality clothes the price will pay for itself through the longevity of the garments we offer.
I will always support a sustainable or locally-made slow fashion t-shirt that is environmentally responsible for the Earth. Often the dyes and chemicals they use to treat the fabric are unsustainable, polluting waterways and also putting the health of garment workers at risk every day. Sustainable fabrics like linen, or rayon from bamboo are substantially more costly, but their environmental cost is significantly less. For example, a t-shirt made from Rayon from bamboo is 100% biodegradable, so it won’t sit in landfill for years. Bamboo is also grown without pesticides, and it naturally regenerates. It’s always worth if for me to own clothes that are made from organic fibres - it just feels good to wear a eco-friendly and chemical-free t-shirt. I love supporting local brands whenever I can, especially since every mindful choice to do so helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
A $65 t-shirt may seem like a big purchase, or an unreasonable investment. But when you choose clothing that is made ethically and sustainably, you’re investing in human beings and their right to fair wages, in preserving our natural resources and reducing pollution and in quality pieces that are made from fabrics that will last and styles that will withstand fast-fashion trends. It’s more expensive, but it’s also more valuable. What I love most about my job is working with the customers, building a connection to members of the community, and getting to be a small part of making a decision that they feel good about. I also love educating our customers about what it actually means to buy sustainably sourced and ethically made clothing and know a bit more about the real price of a t-shirt.