Editor’s note: Welcome to the third and final installment of a 3-part series on Haute Mess! This week I’ll be discussing something very close to my heart: Italian fashion. Although I am American by birth, I’m Italian by blood. And, as all my followers, readers and friends know, fashion has been a strong personal interest of mine for as long as I can remember. Lucky for me, the two often overlap; after all, Italy is home to iconic labels like Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Missoni and La Perla. 

The shift from Europe to Asia is something I noticed on my own, and instantly thought it spoke volumes about the [fashion] industry as a whole. I collected and organized my thoughts into this 3-part essay that focuses on Fiorucci. While Fiorucci isn’t a household name in the same capacity brands like Gucci, Prada or Dolce & Gabbana are, it has been beyond influential for decades–so much so that, in some senses I will discuss, it represents a number of Italian fashion labels as they take on the 21st Century. 

For a complete list of sources, click here


In March 2003 Elio also announced he was closing the doors to Fiorucci’s historic shop in Corso Vittorio Emmaniele, Milan after 36 years. (Orso)

“When Fiorucci hit the scene nearly 40 years ago, he blew Italy—and the rest of the world—away with a larger-than-life attitude. He bought in the new and unexpected, pre-dating the surge of today’s ‘lifestyle’ stores. Fiorucci mixed clothing with beauty products, vintage items, music and home furnishings. He even used his retail space for artistic performances,” (Orso).

While department stores like Bloomingdale’s are known for their home products, such as small kitchen appliances, bedding and even pool tools, Fiorucci was a pioneer in that it *wasn’t* (and still isn’t) a department store. Anything on its shelves besides clothes and shoes is completely unexpected–or at least it was in Fiorucci’s heyday before the label made “lifestyle” boutiques the norm.

Today’s Free People and Anthropologie come to mind, which offer beauty products, books, music, desk supplies and tech accessories, as well as kitchen necessities and home decor in addition to clothes, shoes and accessories.

Free People also takes its so-called “lifestyle” a step further with its popular namesake blog that offers beauty and wellness advice, alongside fashion, music, DIY and recipe posts. And on its online shop, Free People also offers a selection of vintage clothing curated by the FP team. Search “vintage” for retro lace, leather, activewear and more, as well as designer accessories from labels like Gucci, tons of Vogue magazines from the 1970s and 80s and even some rock ‘n’ roll records.

Soon after closing the shop in Milan, Elio became an ethical vegetarian and animal rights activist (Orso). He said the reason he was closing the shop was because he had “fallen out of love” with fashion. At 80-years-old he passed away in July 2015 at his home in Milan, per WWD.com.

Fiorucci store on Brewer Street in London’s Soho [source: Culture Whisper]

The brand was then sold by the Japanese trading house Itochu to Janie Schaffer, ex-CEO of Victoria’s Secret, and her business partner and former husband Stephen, a team from the U.K based in London.

Plans to re-launch Fiorucci began in early 2017 with pop-up shops Barneys (New York), as well as Selfridges and Harrods (London) to gauge consumer interest. A new 3-storey Fiorucci store opened in Brewer St. in London’s Soho neighborhood in September of that year.

Hailey Baldwin in a Fiorucci t-shirt, 2017 [source: candidcelebs.net]

Hailey Baldwin in Fiorucci corduroy pants, 2017 [source: starstyle.com]

Models such as Hailey Baldwin, Romee Strijd, Joan Smalls, as well as blogger Olivia of Olivia By Nature and actress Dakota Johnson have been spotted wearing the label. Big names like Georgia May Jagger (daughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) and musician Cailin Russo appear in recent Fiorucci campaigns.

To celebrate the launch of its new store, Fiorucci hosted a “Disco Christmas” party on December 7, 2017 at the Soho location. Complete with DJs and cocktails, Fiorucci welcomed all its customers and fans via Instagram and email, keeping alive Elio’s tradition of the store being more than just a store.

The brand has a strong social media presence, with over 50 thousand followers on Instagram. Fiorucci used this platform to both send an open invite to its Disco Christmas, and to showcase the event in real time via Instagram’s live streaming tool.

While a ton of aspects from Fiorucci’s heyday remain the same for the brand’s overall vibe, a lot has changed on the business end to keep up with the fashion industry as it adapts to advancements in technology.

Although Fiorucci was sold from Japan to the U.K. in 2015, one cannot help but notice the pattern of Italian labels moving to Asia (alongside the obvious Asian influence in fashion today). Another name that comes to mind is sportswear giant Fila.

Before moving to sportswear in the 1970s, Fila launched in Biella, Italy by two brothers in 1911 (from Fila) as clothing (and underwear) for people of the Italian Alps. The label gained popularity when it was endorsed by tennis player Bjørn Borg.

In 2003 the company was sold to U.S. hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus owned Fila through the holding company Sports Brands International, which owned and operated all Fila businesses around the world *except Fila Korea.

Fila Korea acquired the global Fila brand and all its international subsidiaries from SBI in January of 2007, making it the largest South Korean sportswear company. Fila Korea currently holds all of the rights to the worldwide use of footwear and clothing brands of the parent firm.

ANTA Sports acquired rights to use the brand in China (Full Prospect) two years later in 2009 from Belle International. At this point Fila Korea still owned 15 percent of the shares of the joint venture company Full Prospect). (From Anta)

Fila Korea Ltd. Acquired global golf equipment maker Acushnet Company, becoming the new owner of leading golf brands, such as Titleist for $1.23 billion. (Thomas)

Behind-the-scenes of the Diesel A/W 2014 campaign by Formichetti [source: South China Morning Post]

And then there’s Diesel, an edgy Italian streetwear label famous for its denim.

Nicola Formichetti, the son of an Italian pilot and Japanese flight attendant, was named the first artistic director of the Italian label in 2013. Although his contract is set to expire before New Year’s Day 2018, he has brought a ton of Asian influence to the historically Italian label and will be parting ways with Diesel amicably, per WWD.

In an interview with WWD writers Luisa Zargani and Rosemary Feitelberg, Diesel’s founder Renzo Rosso “points out Formichetti’s Japanese background, saying that Japan was very inspirational every season, defining it as ‘the most avant-garde country,’ and one that accounts for 21 percent of Diesel’s business.”

“[Formichetti] also has Italian blood, so he is special. I like him personally, and we complement each other,” Rosso added. (Feitelberg, Zargani)

Additionally, Diesel won’t be appointing a successor to the artistic director just yet.

“I believe this kind of company can work differently, and not in this same kind of direction. There are many things coming up, special projects. The market is very different now. We want to be modern, I want to explore,” Rosso explains to WWD.

Formichetti plans to focus on his own brand Nicopanda, as well as his partnership with Japanese casual wear chain Uniqlo. He also leaves behind an incredible legacy at Diesel, which was formed over the course of just five years. (Feitelberg, Zargani)

“Last year, Diesel held a second megashow in Tokyo to mark the company’s 30th anniversary in that country, presenting the brand’s fall collection readily available in stores and online the same day. Formichetti also curated an exhibition with archival looks from 1978 until today and launched dedicated capsule collections to be distributed in Japan,” per WWD.

This so-called “see-now, buy-now” concept is a popular trend among both well-known and little-known fashion designers, and one that speaks volumes about the “insta-society” in which we live.

WWD also points out that Formichetti was “a pioneer in establishing a web of friends and followers on social media. Formichetti’s ad campaigns for Diesel were aimed at creating an online community.”

Georgia May Jagger for Fiorucci [source: The Impression]

Georgia May Jagger for Fiorucci [source: i-D]

Georgia May Jagger for Fiorucci [source: Pinterest]

Cailin Russo for Fiorucci, 2017 [source: InStyle]

Cailin Russo for Fiorucci, 2017 [source: ramtain.com]

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the second installment of a 3-part series on Haute Mess! This week I’ll be discussing something very close to my heart: Italian fashion.

Although I am American by birth, I’m Italian by blood. And, as all my followers, readers and friends know, fashion has been a strong personal interest of mine for as long as I can remember. Lucky for me, the two often overlap; after all, Italy is home to iconic labels like Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Missoni and La Perla. 

The shift from Europe to Asia is something I noticed on my own, and instantly thought it spoke volumes about the [fashion] industry as a whole. I collected and organized my thoughts into this 3-part essay that focuses on Fiorucci. While Fiorucci isn’t a household name in the same capacity brands like Gucci, Prada or Dolce & Gabbana are, it has been beyond influential for decades–so much so that, in some senses I will discuss, it represents a number of fashion labels as they take on the 21st Century. 

For a complete list of sources, click here


Fiorucci by Eve Babitz [source: ilovecatparty.blogspot.com]

Meanwhile on the business end, 1981 saw a couple big changes for Fiorucci. Benetton bought Montedison’s 50-percent stake in Fiorucci (which reduced to 33.3 percent in 1986), and Elio brought in Iranian businessman Massimo Aki Nuhi (i.e., Akinouhi) as a third partner via his holding company Aknofin. In August 1987, Benetton sold their remaining stake to Fiorucci and Aki Nuhi.

A combination of “thriving sales” (with which the company could not keep up) and “poor management” forced Fiorucci to close its Manhattan store in 1986.

Fiorucci’s New York storefront [source: Kickshaw Productions]

New York-based fashion designer Betsey Johnson said, “Fiorucci was the most happening place. It never stopped being happening—it just left New York City, because I don’t think New York City was happening enough by the mid-80s,” (Chaplin).

Two years later Fiorucci closed its remaining U.S. stores after a franchise dispute, and moved instead to a wholesale strategy. In April of the following year, Fiorucci went into administration after a dispute over the strategic direction of the firm that had seen Elio offer to buy-out Aki Nuhi (WWD).

It was then that the Tacchella brothers came to the rescue (Bannon).

Fiorucci by Eve Babitz [source: ilovecatparty.blogspot.com]

In January 1996, after a plea bargain, Elio was given a suspended jail sentence of 22 months for inflating the value of invoices to increase the value of the company to Carrera at the expense of his creditors (from Corriere della Sera, a). Luciano Benetton was cleared of similar charges “on the grounds that he had not been involved at an operational level during his time (September 1985-September 1987) on the board at Fiorucci,” (from Corriere della Sera, b).

The deal with Edwin was signed June 4, 1990 (and ratified October 1990), but Edwin did not gain control of the assets until May 1992, causing the company to lose the rights to the Fiorucci name in Canada on the grounds of disuse (Gamache).

Edwin’s first major act was a deal with Coles Myer, which led to 68 Fiorucci concessions in stores across Australia. A new store also opened in Piazza San Babila, Milan in early 1993; it included a variety of branded boutiques (Forden).

[source: fashiontimes.it]

However, things were very different on the North American front. Later that year a deal fell through with Mary Ann Wheaton of Wheaton International (Gordon). It was not until 1995 when Edwin was able to license the rights for eyewear in the U.S. to Swan International Optical (Parr).

Although Fiorucci opened a U.S. office in September of 1997 (Parr), the strategy of their licensee, Stephen Budd, to sell the brand into U.S. department stores was not successful (Chaplin). Two years later, the label announced its plan to open a U.S. store in time for the holiday season. However, the store on lower Broadway did not open until June 2001. (Chaplin)

Kim Hastreiter (a commentator) was “skeptical that [Fiorucci] could recapture the buzz of times passed, given the increased competition in mass-market clubbing gear from the likes of H&M and The Limted,” (Chaplin).

[source: Pinterest]

While the brand continued to thrive in Europe during 1995, a campaign for jeans featuring a naked woman’s behind and pink furry handcuffs restored (some) former notoriety, and the jeans became “instant bestsellers,” (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps).

The year 1999 saw the launch of a successful perfume, and two years later Fiorucci launched another successful fragrance. In 2003 the label launched Miss Fiorucci, a makeup line. Meanwhile, Edwin aggressively expanded the brand throughout Asia, from Seoul to Tokyo and China. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Elio “retained creative control during the Edwin era,” and the new owners were “protective of the Fiorucci trademarks.” In fact, they “took legal action against H&M when Elio designed H&M’s poolside line” (Orso) and designed for Agent Provacteur.

[source: Ganzo]

[source: Love Magazine]

A 1987 Fiorucci ad [source: Pinterest]

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the first installment of a 3-part series on Haute Mess! This week I’ll be discussing something very close to my heart: Italian fashion.

Although I am American by birth, I’m Italian by blood. And, as all my followers, readers and friends know, fashion has been a strong personal interest of mine for as long as I can remember. Lucky for me, the two often overlap; after all, Italy is home to iconic labels like Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Missoni and La Perla. 

The shift from Europe to Asia is something I noticed on my own, and instantly thought it spoke volumes about the [fashion] industry as a whole. I collected and organized my thoughts into this 3-part essay that focuses on Fiorucci. While Fiorucci isn’t a household name in the same capacity brands like Gucci, Prada or Dolce & Gabbana are, it has been beyond influential for decades–so much so that, in some senses I will discuss, it represents a number of fashion labels as they take on the 21st Century. 

For a complete list of sources, click here


A peek inside Amsterdam’s Fiorucci store, which contained a cafe. [source: CNN]

Perhaps no other brand in (modern) history has been more influential to fashion than Milan-born Fiorucci. Credited with designing the first pair of women’s fashion jeans, it is really quite a shock that Fiorucci is not more of a household name, compared to other high-end labels like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

In the 1990s, in an effort to save the failing brand, the Tacchella brothers (of Italian jeans company Carrera S.P.A.) sold Fiorucci to Japanese jeans group Edwin Co., Ltd. for 45 billion Lire (or approximately $41 million USD). This created a domino effect that saw other major Italian labels, such as sportswear giant Fila, move to Asia.

Two angels [source: Pinterest]

But the story starts in 1962 when Milan native Elio Fiorucci, the son of a shoe shop owner, created bright, primary color galoshes. His idea went on to be featured in a local fashion magazine and were a sensation.

After traveling to London in 1965, a 20-year-old Elio was inspired to bring Carnaby Street style back to Milan. Two years later, Elio opened his first shop in Milan, which sold clothes by London designers such as Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes. Still today, Fiorucci marries London street style with Dolce Vita luxury.

It was in 1968 that Elio began taking inspiration from the East. He sold cheap t-shirts from India and turned rice sacks into handbags.

By the mid-1970s the Fiorucci label was thriving. A huge new store on Milan’s Via Torino opened, selling not only fashion, but books, furniture and music. It had a live performance area, a vintage clothing market and a restaurant. The company set up its own manufacturing plant four years prior, and adopted its infamous “two angels” logo from Italo Lupo. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

The store was financed by an investment from Standa department stores (part of Montedison group). (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Monokini [source: Pinterest]

During this time, the label introduced Europe to styles from Brazil, such as the monokini and the thong. It also caused quite a controversy by printing topless women in its advertisements. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Fiorucci opened its first overseas store in 1975 on London’s King’s Road; it launched a children’s collection called Fioruccino that same year. The label also brought Afghan coats to the mass market and popularized leopard-skin prints, which were first created by Elsa Schiaparelli two decades prior. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

The label made its way to the U.S. in 1976 when it opened a store on East 59th street, between Lexington and Park Avenues, in New York City—down the block from Bloomingdale’s. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps).

Customers included fashion designers Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein, Jackie Onassis and Gloria Vanderbilt, actress Lauren Bacall, British mogul Terence Conran, Cher (Chaplin), author Douglas Coupland (Colman) and Juan Carlos I, the King of Spain (Lahr).

As the brand continued to thrive, it hired big-name employees by the 1980s. Fiorucci’s art director was designer Maripol, who created Madonna’s looks at the time. Other notable names included Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone, i-D magazine’s Terry Jones, Oliviero Toscani (who shot many famous Benetton ads) and famed interior designer Jim Walrod (Chaplin).

Late actress Farrah Fawcett in Fiorucci jeans [source: CNN]

Fiorucci’s hottest new products at the time included a collection made from DuPont’s Tyrek fabric and velvet slippers from China. And in 1978, Fiorucci became the first fashion house to license its name for a collection of sunglasses. New stores launched across the U.S., Europe and Asia. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Three years later in 1981, a Disney license led to a highly successful range of Mickey Mouse pieces. That same year, Fiorucci sponsored the reunion of Simon and Garfunkel at The Concert In Central Park, which attracted more than 400,000 attendees. A then-unknown Madonna played the labels birthday party in 1983. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

A 1974 Fiorucci ad [source: The Historialist]

In 1982, however, Fiorucci launched the first-ever stretch jeans with Lycra. The success of the label’s 5-pocket “safety” jeans was recognized three years later in a licensing deal with Wrangler Jeans. And in 1989, Fiorucci went back to its British roots with a deal with Vivienne Westwood (i.e., the “queen of the London street scene”). (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Per a video interview by Il Bel Gioco, Elio Fiorucci says, “I changed denim, which was working clothing, into something [that] makes the [wearer] beautiful.”

[Source: Il Bel Gioco via YouTube]
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From a young age we are taught that copying our peers’ work is wrong. Their intellectual property–whether it’s a kindergarten macaroni necklace or Pulitzer Prize-winning literature–is just that: their property.

Federal law mandates that intellectual property receives copyright protection from the moment it is fixed in a medium, according to the United States Copyright Office. In short, the second an idea leaves your mind and becomes something tangible (i.e., perceptible to at least one of the five senses), it is copyright protected under U.S. law.

But, that didn’t stop the classroom bully, and it certainly does not stop big-name fashion and beauty retailers. The rise in fashion and beauty bloggers and YouTubers has created a new environment in which dupes can not only breed, but thrive.

Beauty gurus (and aspiring beauty gurus) share countless dupe guides on social media platforms like Pinterest. Dupe guides compare high-end products their low-end counterparts. [source: Pinterest]

“Everyone has gotten so fucking lazy in [the beauty] industry. There. I said it. There are some beautiful things out there that the labs are doing, but no one bothers to do it,” writes Glossible‘s Sonia Roselli.

“Why? Why bother? Copycatting is big business and it’s faster to get to market. There is no better time than now to be in the cosmetics manufacturing game. Cosmetic labs are working at full capacity and some aren’t even taking new customers, thanks to social media.  But because of social media, I find that we are going down a path that is bad for all of us.”

According to Roselli’s post, the biggest names in beauty knockoff products from small brands such as Viseart, Melanie Mills and PPI. Their motive?

“If I were being completely honest, in my opinion, most big cosmetic companies don’t even TRY anymore. And it’s not just the cosmetic companies, it’s the labs and manufacturers too who take direction from these companies.  I imagine the chemists are crying in their glass beakers because they WANT to create innovative products but the companies won’t let them. Why? Because copycatting is big business and easier to do.”

Roselli also notes that copycatting runs rampant in the technology industry, as well, citing Apple’s recent lack of innovation.

“What happened to luxurious textures and colors that were perfect for skin tones? What happened to a brand being known for their foundation colors? What about a brand being known for their skin products? It’s all the same shit just a different day,” Roselli asks.

“To me the beauty industry looks a little something like this: We are the lions and the cosmetic companies just throw us a carcass.”

Viseart’s multicolor eyeshadow palette, which retails on Sephora.com for $80, has been duped by web-based retailer Morphe. Morphe’s so-called Picasso Palette retails for $14.99.

W-7, a UK-based cosmetics company, has not one, but three blatant knockoffs of Urban Decay’s famous Naked eyeshadow palettes. Naked, Naked 2 and Naked 3 retail for $54 each, while W-7’s dupes go for $12.95 each. The company also sells a bronzer called Honolulu ($5.30) eerily similar in color and packaging to Benefit’s Hoola bronzer ($29), a cult favorite.

There is also e.l.f., a drugstore beauty brand also known as Eyes, Lips, Face. Roselli notes the similarities between e.l.f.’s Pink Passion blush ($5.30) and Nars’ Desire blush ($30), and mentions that the brand is a notorious industry-wide copycat.

W-7 In The Buff: Lightly Toasted palette versus Urban Decay’s Naked palette [source: Pinterest]

“Most people don’t realize how or why copycat imitation hurts our industry, or for that matter, even care,” Roselli writes.

“As a pro makeup artist, I can go our right now to any Ulta or Sephora and tell you that 85 percent of all makeup is complete and utter bullshit. Don’t believe me? Go on any Facebook group that caters to professional makeup artists and you will see a surge in going back to old brands…Graftobian, Ben Nye, RCMA just to name a few…Why? Because the big brands are not listening to working pros. They are listening to beauty bloggers.”

While some beauty bloggers and vloggers are truly trustworthy and informative, Roselli insists there are many who are quite the opposite:

“I think [bloggers] have an interesting place in the industry [because they] allow people to discover new products. While a lot of bloggers out there are great (especially the ones that have worked in the industry for years), these aren’t the ones I’m talking about here. I’m talking about people who have no clue about beauty.”

These bloggers care more about making money than they do about creating quality content or sharing what they’ve learned with a larger community.

“Over the last few years, beauty bloggers have become puppets for the cosmetic companies,” Roselli continues.

“Last year, I sat in on a big meeting with some higher up cosmetic level execs who were giving a talk on how they utilize social media influencers.  The story went a little something like this: A very popular Youtube beauty blogger was given $100,000 to blog about a new product that was coming out.  (Yes, you read that correctly: 1 video. 15 minutes long. $100k). But, guess what? Her videos drove over $2 million in sales in one day! As a matter of fact, [in] minutes. [The blogger] said exactly what [the cosmetics company] wanted her to say (in her own words of course).”

As long as cosmetics companies can rely on big-name beauty bloggers and YouTubers, they can continue to make shoddy dupes of high-end products an end up with a pretty spectacular return on investment.

“That means these cosmetic companies can make absolute bullshit products and not care about the actual product they produce because they have beauty bloggers to drive the sales. So, they rip each other’s products, have a pissing match on who can knock it off better and play this game of cat and mouse to see who has the bigger balls,” Roselli writes.

Jenn Im, YouTuber behind Clothes Encounters, sports a slip dress by Necessary Clothing, a trendy fast fashion retailer. [source: Instagram user @imjennim]

Crushed Velvet Zillah Slip Dress in Blush by Are You Am I, $675 [source: Are You Am I]

However, Roselli doesn’t blame any beauty blogger for what they do; in fact, she applauds their ability to be so influential.

“Secretly, I laugh and say, ‘go girl!’ to the beauty blogger and wanna high five her after she hits ‘publish’ on her YouTube channel. It’s this double edge sword that is creating a sea of mediocrity in the marketplace. And who loses? We do, the pro and the consumer. ”

Nonetheless, it is the process in itself that perpetuates the lack of quality products currently on the market; Roselli insists it is a vicious cycle.

“The cosmetic companies watch social media trends, give the masses what the think they want, and use the beauty blogger to promote the sales. What are we left with? Subpar bullshit,” she writes.

“If beauty blogger tells you that the Waffle House yellow foundation she is using is the best thing since Netflix on a cold rainy day, well guess what? People believe her. Then, women are left with crappy products that don’t perform and are constantly shopping for something that works, leaving us in a constant state of searching for the next hero product for ourselves.”

And, the same can be said for fashion. It doesn’t matter anymore what’s on the runway or what’s in the most esteemed fashion magazines. Consumers are more likely lust after looks they see on the most influential bloggers and vloggers, who in large part promote fast fashion (whether they realize it or not!), according to The Fashion Law.

In addition to being a violation of intellectual property, fast fashion negatively impacts both garment workers and the environment, as well as consumers. From an article published in 2014, The Huffington Post notes a number of toxins found in garments from several popular fast fashion retailers.

“According to the Center for Environmental Health, Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal, Forever21 and other popular fast-fashion chains are still selling lead-contaminated purses, belts and shoes above the legal amount, years after signing a settlement agreeing to limit the use of heavy metals in their products,” Shannon Whitehead writes.

“Lead exposure has also been linked to higher rates of infertility in women and increased risks of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. Many scientists agree there is no ‘safe’ level of lead exposure for anyone. The lead contamination is all in addition to the pesticides, insecticides, formaldehyde, flame-retardants and other known carcinogens that reside on the clothes we wear.”

[source: takepart.com]

Whitehead also goes on to explain the impacts the fast fashion industry has on the environment:

“The average American throws away over 68 pounds of textiles per year. We’re not talking about clothing being donated to charity shops or sold to consignment stores, that 68 pounds of clothing is going directly into landfills. Because most of our clothing today is made with synthetic, petroleum-based fibers, it will take decades for these garments to decompose.”

Fast fashion retailers also exploit garment workers in developing countries, because these countries do not offer labor laws that protect their workers.

“Industry estimates suggest that 20 to 60 percent of garment production is sewn at home by informal workers, according author Lucy Siegle in her book, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

While there are machines that can apply sequins and beading that look like handiwork, they are very expensive and must be purchased by the garment factory. According to Siegle, it’s highly unlikely that an overseas factory would invest in the equipment, particularly if the clothing being made is for a value-driven fast-fashion label,” Whitehead continues.

“Carrying out her own investigation, Siegle learned that millions of desperate home-workers are hidden in some of the poorest regions of the world, ‘hunched over, stitching and embroidering the contents of the global wardrobe…in slums where a whole family can live in a single room.’

Often with the help of their children, the home workers sew as fast as they can and for as long as daylight allows to embellish and bedazzle the clothes that end up in our closets. Siegle goes on to say, ‘They live hand to mouth, presided over by middlemen, tyrannical go-betweens who hand over some of the lowest wages in the garment industry.'”

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Often the object of criticism for environmental advocates and enthusiasts, a handful of fast fashion retailers launched green initiatives earlier this year.

Last month, Haute Mess reported that retail giant Target announced a sophisticated plan to revamp its stores and increase sales, which includes a series of goals to better the environment.

Target revealed a new forest products policy and goals, including having full visibility into the wood contained in or used to make products sold by Target or used in its operations; implementing policies, practices and tools that facilitate the management of raw materials throughout the supply chain and across operations, and actively supporting efforts that prevent the destruction of forests and other natural resources,” reports WWD.

“Last year, Target introduced its reliable sourcing aspirations, which included a commitment to sourcing wood from well-managed forests. The retailer pledged to source for Target’s own brands wood from well-managed and credibly certified forests, and whenever possible, from post-consumer recycled materials.”

WWD also reports that Target will implement its policies beginning in 2018, with “a goal to have six of Target’s owned brands fully compliant with the forest products policy by 2022.”

The first products the retail giant plans to revamp are those containing wood or paper-based materials, like tissues and paper towels, wrapping paper, furniture components and clothing, according to WWD. This includes brands such as Cat & Jack, Pillowfort, Threshold and Smith & Hawken.

“This policy comes after Target announced its commitments to responsible sourcing, which focuses on improving worker well-being, achieving net-positive manufacturing and deriving key raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources. The retailer in January announced a chemical policy,” WWD continues.

Kelly Caruso, president of Target Sourcing Services, tells WWD that the retailer also plans to “target the rayon used in apparel, which comes from viscose, a forest product.”

“We’ll be working on the brands’ packaging, too,” Caruso continues.

The new forest policy comes a couple years after the retail giant announced that palm oil, which is “used in its owned brand food, personal care and household cleaning products, will be fully traceable and sustainably sourced by 2018, or sooner, according to WWD.

“When the retailer moves from raw materials to commodities such as beef and soy, it will look for ways to achieve zero net forestation.”

In 2012 Target also aimed to reduce the environmental impact of its production practices.

“Target piloted 10 best practices in three high-volume textile mills in China for a year. Realizing significant savings in water energy and materials, Target expanded the pilot to two additional Chinese cities in 2013 and is hoping for similarly positive results,” WWD writes.

Target’s forest products policy goal at a glance [source: A Bullseye View, Target’s official blog]

Swedish fast fashion giant H&M launched its Bring It On campaign in January 2017 as part of its Garment Collecting program, which began in 2013.

“Nothing is too torn, worn or used to get a second life. Not your lonely sock, your worn-out dress or your ripped sheet. Yet tons and tons of textiles—that could’ve been reused or recycled—are thrown away with household waste. Being one of the world’s largest fashion companies comes with great responsibility, and that’s why we launched our global garment collecting initiative in 2013. You bring your garments, we give them a new purpose. Together we can close the loop on fashion,” H&M’s website explains.

“We believe that clothes deserve better than to end up in landfills. So, for our newest conscious initiative we made two new designs in 500 unique pieces – entirely out of used denim. Because great fashion can be made from old clothes.”

Consumers can bring their unwanted garments to any H&M store to be repurposed.

“The garments collected that cannot be distributed as second-hand goods will either be converted into other products, such as cleaning cloths and upcycled items, or ground down and used in the construction or automotive industries as padding and insulation. Some garments get a new chance as textile fibers. They will be spun into yarn and used in the new H&M Conscious range,” the site continues.

“During the process, nothing goes to waste. The metals from buttons and zippers are also recycled. Even the dust is taken care of. It is pressed into cubes that goes to the paper industry as a co-product to cardboard. The very last remains of the collected garments are burned and turned into new energy.”

Garments part of the retailer’s Conscious range are denoted with a green label that reads “CONSCIOUS” on H&M’s website. The company insists it does not profit from any of the returned textiles.

“Revenue generated from collected items is donated to charity and invested in recycling innovation,” the website reads.

[source: H&M]

But, attorney and famed fast fashion critic Julie Zerbo, the voice behind The Fashion Law, argues that this is all a part of greenwashing: “the promotion of green-based environmental initiatives or images without the implementation of business practices that actually minimize environmental impact (or any of the other negative effects of fast fashion).”

“[Greenwashing often includes misleading customers about the actual benefits of a product or practice through misleading advertising and/or unsubstantiated claims. And swearing off the use of animal products.”

Last year, Nasty Gal, a web-based fast fashion retailer and notorious copycat, announced it would no longer continue to sell any items made with angora rabbit fur, after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) “conducted an investigation of the angora wool industry, leading to allegations of harsh and inhumane conditions in which the rabbits used for angora are treated,” according to The Fashion Law.

“Much like H&M’s well publicized recycling efforts and its ‘Conscious’ Collection, and Zara’s new eco-friendly stores, such green efforts–including those involving animals–tend to come with downsides of their own, such as alternative motives, aimed at creating a pretty picture in the face of significant problems at the foundational level of such business models.”

Zerbo insists that fast fashion inherently has a negative environmental impact; eye-catching campaigns that claim to be environmentally conscious are really marketing strategies aimed at attracting consumers.

“Fast fashion is a dirty industry, second only to the oil industry, according to recent reports. In order to keep costs low, fast fashion suppliers and even the big-name retailers, themselves, operate in ethically questionable ways. As we have seen in a number of recent lawsuits, they fire pregnant employees to avoid paying health insurance costs (hey, Nasty Gal). They discriminate against transgender employees (hey, Forever 21). They target shoppers based on race (that’s you, H&M) and employees based on religion (and you, Zara),” The Fashion Law writes.

“Their suppliers routinely bypass important quality control and manufacturing health/safety standards because these practices are costly to implement and monitor and that would cut into their bottom line. Hence, the toxic chemicals in clothes, the frequent employee hospitalizations and the increasing number of fires and buildings collapsing.”

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