By Ann Marie Newton on behalf of QHQ
Thinking about the future may conjure up images of crystal balls, fringed shawls and an overactive dry ice machine, but it can also be about what to eat for dinner, next year’s vacation or your career goals for the next 5 years. We think about the future in a variety of ways. The future is unknown, and so has a certain mystique about it. The uncertainty of the unknown can be disconcerting, but it can also be exciting, full of opportunity and possibility.
Thinking about the short and long term is different. Looking at Fashion, short term thinking is suitable for Fast Fashion, whereas long term thinking is more suitable when buying an investment piece. In our current society we have become more short term focused, emails get a reply in a matter of minutes, instead of sending a letter by post, and waiting days to hear back. Just about every part of our modern existence has been touched by a speeded-up version of its former self, a lot of these advancements make our day to day lives a lot easier to navigate, but, in the desire for speed, ease and efficiency have we lost sight of a bigger picture?
Perhaps there is an opportunity for some longer term thinking in our days? For manufacturers and retailers of fast fashion, considering the long term, could mean, really getting down to the nitty gritty of why people buy fast fashion: to look good perhaps, be on trend, have a different outfit each week (or every day!), keep Instagram posts fresh? Thinking about the whys behind Fast Fashion, may result in a longer-term version of “Fast Fashion” that does not have all the environmental and human impact that the current model does. Swedish company Carlings have one such solution: digital clothing.
You simply take a photo of yourself, select an item of clothing from their website, pay and voila! Instant social media kudos, plus you can feel good about the minimal environmental impact of a digital outfit compared to an actual physical one. The first set of designs costing between 10 and 30 Euros sold out, the second collection is due soon.
Another option would be to lease clothes instead of buying them, this way we are considering the long-term usage of a garment in the world, rather than just how long we as individuals will wear it for. At various Filippa K stores across Europe you can lease clothes for 4 days at 20% of the purchase price, this is a great option for anyone who is interested in reducing their carbon footprint, or for anyone wanting an outfit for a specific event.
With these great options for the current short-term thinking landscape, imagine what we could do if we applied even more long term thinking to all clothing, not just fast fashion. Changing how we think about the impact not just for us but for future generations too, feels like the right thing to do.
In Wales they are inspiring the rest of the world by passing legislation that means all policy needs to consider future generations and has seven well-being goals that all listed public bodies much work towards. Part of the 2015 Welsh Well-being of Future Generation Act was to appoint a Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe who I was lucky enough to hear speak last year. Sophie is inspirational in her passion for her role which she sees as that of a guardian, to protect the interests of future generations today. This is achieved by working with policy makers to consider the long-term impact of any decision made today.
Recently the World Economic Forum have been posting information about the impact of fashion, such as:
“Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.
Discarded clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can sit in landfills for up to 200 years.
It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt, enough to meet the average person’s drinking needs for two-and-a-half years.”
Taking a leaf out of the Welsh government’s book, inspiration from Carlings, Filipa K and all the other change-makers in the fashion industry, there is hope that we as a species could clothe ourselves without inflicting the massive impact that we currently are, and it could all start by thinking more long term.
Further reading & links:
 Carlings digital collection, available at: https://digitalcollection.carlings.com/
 World Economic Forum ‘These are the economic, social and environmental impacts of fast fashion”, 11 Jan 2019, available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/by-the-numbers-the-economic-social-and-environmental-impacts-of-fast-fashion/