Fast fashion is a contemporary term used in the fashion/retail industry to express how quickly fashion trends/new designs can move from the catwalk, through manufacturing and into the retail stores. So what is ‘fast fashion’?
Is this “Fast Fashion” affecting the Jewellery Industry?
YES. We all know the pressures of social media and having the latest trends so isn’t it great that these fashion companies are bringing us the latest trends and fashions in Jewellery within a very short timeframe?
It’s amazing that they have a turnaround process that is SO fast, but what gives? I don’t want to delve into the concerns around factory working conditions, child labour and poor work hours, but what I do want to discuss is the materials used and the fact that this “fast fashion” is following trends which are here one week, gone the next… so where does that Jewellery that’s now “out of fashion” go?!
The majority of this fast fashion Jewellery is “Costume Jewellery” – this classification is given to jewellery which is generally made of a base metal and plated. An example of this would be a very chunky necklace, if it was costume jewellery it would most likely be made from brass, then coated in a gold colour plating (no real gold involved) with glass, or even plastic stones instead of real gemstones, so the production cost is very low.
Fast Fashion Jewellery is in general on the affordable (cheap) end of the jewellery scale, to achieve these prices the companies are ordering in bulk and most often from overseas factories.
My concern here is the amount of nickel which is going into these cheaper pieces of jewellery. Nickel is a very cheap metal to use and has been a very widely used material around the world in the creation of jewellery, belt buckles and almost anything metal on our clothing.
There are increasing numbers of people allergic to nickel which brought about The European Initiative which bans the use of nickel. But, here in Australia there are no such rules. So, if you are one of the people who get nasty rashes and inflamed skin from your jewellery… throw it in the bin! Stick to your sterling silver or gold pieces from jewellers who can tell you where their metal comes from!
Fast fashion is “fast fashion” – what?
Exactly… when that trend is gone (and some last less than a couple of months), who wants to keep wearing that piece of jewellery? Does it just get chucked into your jewellery box and buried underneath the next set of jewels you buy? Theres so much pressure in the world, especially for younger people to have the latest trends, to not wear the same thing twice in their “insta selfie” – what is this teaching us?
That disposable fashion is ok? That it’s ok to spend $15 on a necklace to wear once? We’ve probably all done it, brought that cheap-o necklace to match a dress for “that” party because you have no other jewellery that matches. But we can probably be forgiven for the “once” or “twice” that we have done this. For some, they are now buying jewellery weekly (or even daily) to have that latest trendy piece to wear to a party that night, or to get a super cool insta pic!
They need to start thinking twice.
I had some women in their early 20’s at my Jewellery stall at a market recently and I overheard them saying that they should really buy some sterling silver studs to replace their cheapy ones. I asked them about this to find out that they had spend $20 on cheap cube studs made from base metal and plated in silver.
She said the silver had already half worn off. My sterling silver studs are just $25 for a pair of cubes and will last a lifetime. So, lets fill our jewellery boxes with timeless pieces, find your own “take” on the latest fashion and create it with beautifully handmade pieces, made with REAL metals which if looked after will last a lifetime… not to mention keep those nasty allergies away!
Ask the shops, or market stalls “What is it made from?” “How is it made?”
What can I do?
Think twice (or even three times) next time before you buy that $10 pair of plated earrings – how often will you really wear them? Wouldn’t you rather have your friends comment on your handmade earrings and be proud to tell them that you choose them from a local designer who handcrafts the pieces themselves?! (Oh, and you got them to customise them too so they are ONE of a kind!)
And don’t forget, supporting local artists is a great feeling and I’m pretty sure I’m speaking for all designer makers out there when I say that every time we sell a piece to you, we do a little dance inside.