Unintentional Sustainability

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Up until this past Men’s Fashion Month, not much had changed in menswear within the last twenty years. Yes, pant hems have gotten shorter, sweatpants are now joggers, and you can easily spend as much on a graphic hoodie as you can on a custom tailored suit. Now when you compare this progression to the momentum of change within womenswear, it’s safe to say that menswear can feel a bit antiquated at times.

Design innovation was sorely absent throughout seasons and seasons of menswear collections, which undoubtedly provoked a deep sense of despair amongst the most optimistic fashion critics. Major powerhouse brands weren’t sending anything new down the runway, which resulted in fast-fashion retailers producing the same thing they had last season and the season before that. It’s safe to assume that production rates began to be scaled back, as there could only be so many pairs of tweed trousers, cashmere crewnecks, and double breasted blazers circulating the market before financial ruin ensued for all brands and retailers. Men were bound to simple, clean lines and mundane color options for quite some time. Black with gray, gray and white, white on khaki, it was all too redundant. Nothing seemed to nudge designers in a new direction, which consequently made men’s fashion appear stagnant at best.

One could say that the lack of progression in menswear meant that the sole purpose of buying clothes was done only to replace the old with something new but scarily similar. However, it also meant that the fast fashion cycle was being given a break. The infamous 52 collection calendar (fast fashion retailers produce new a “collection” every two weeks with the latest trends) was essentially retired which eased the constant strain to create new pieces that would experience a short life cycle. As fewer trends emerged, production came closer and closer to a complete halt.

However, this hiatus of creative ingenuity allowed for some unintentional environmental benefits to the surface. With a diminishing drive to buy, buy, buy, less and fewer textiles were filling our waste fields. According to NPR, Americans generate more than 15.1 tons of textile waste each year. A majority of that weight can be ascribed to the trendy pieces churned out by fast fashion retailers like Forever21 and Charlotte Russe that profit off the sweatshop manufacturing methods that severely damage our environment. With this reduction in production, we distanced ourselves from completely exhausting our natural resources.

Now, with a new approach to menswear that involves a brilliant melange of color, texture, print, surely production will speed up. The onset of a new approach to fashion, unfortunately, entails the demise of our environment and natural resources.