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Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
Care What You Wear

Understanding Sustainable Fashion

Mainstream fashion today is driven by the mass-produced, consumer-focused styles that are sold at alarmingly cheap prices. This is called “fast fashion,” transforming and capturing the latest catwalk trends for the general public within a matter of weeks. Brands such as Zara, Forever 21, and Gap are at the forefront of the fast-fashion cycle.  

“In North America, the average person throws away 81 pounds of clothing per year. That’s insane,” said Sean Schmidt, a UW alum and current UW sustainability specialist. “In Europe, they get fewer pieces of apparel but with higher quality.”

These consumption habits are often influenced by the money makers who make cheap versions of runway styles and try to push customers into consuming in a short amount of time. 

Schmidt co-founded the Sustainable Style Foundation in 2002 after working at Nordstrom and served as the executive director for Sustainable Seattle. 

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