U.S. News


It's Time To Talk About Sustainable Fashion

Tom Cridland is a sustainable clothing designer who calls fast fashion "a damaging thing."
Posted at 2:14 PM, Jun 23, 2016

"When you buy something, you should think, 'Will I wear this 30 times?' If you're not going to wear this 30 times, why are you buying it?" designer Tom Cridland says.

Cridland is the name and sustainable fashion brand behind the 30 Year Jacket, T-shirt and Sweatshirt, which are supposed to last the wearer up to three decades.

His brand is a far cry from today's world of fast fashion, where popular retailers like H&M, Zara and Uniqlo put out new items all the time.

Zara stores receive new products twice a week. And we're not just talking five designs each time. In fact, Zara designers create more than 10,000 new designs per year.

H&M takes a little longer to get new styles: about two weeks

Unlike traditional retailers — such as J.Crew — which finalize about 60 percent of their designs prior to a new season, fast-fashion brands only commit to as much as 25 percent

The rest is hastily designed and created in small batches as a response to what's trendy at the moment — and it's priced pretty inexpensively because customers know new designs are just around the corner.  

But that process comes with a hidden price: cost per wear.

Cridland says, "Our white T-shirts and navy sweatshirts — our wardrobe staples — are built to last a lifetime, as opposed to the fast-fashion retailers that are, you know, one or two years and then they wear out." 

He says his brand is all about key staples made to luxury standards while being sustainable.

But luxury is something fast-fashion retailers are also setting their sights on.

Topshop has a high-end collection called Topshop Unique that debuts on the runways during major fashion shows each year. 

And H&M teams up with big-name designers like Versace and Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld for exclusive collections. Its 2015 collaboration with Balmain sold out within hours of launching in stores.

Still, Cridland says his brand — and especially its sustainability — gets consumers thinking.

"What we're getting people to do is to consider how they're consuming fashion," he says. 

This video includes clips from The Wall Street JournalJ.CrewUniqlo and Topshop and images from Tom CridlandMike Mozart / CC BY 2.0 and Getty Images.