Naomi Campbell, the iconic supermodel, producer, and actress mostly known for her work with prestigious fashion houses like Prada, Burberry, and Saint Laurent, has surprised the fashion world with her latest collaboration with PrettyLittleThing, a British Fash Fashion label primarily catering to the 16-24 age group. Many in the fashion industry wonder why both parties have entered this partnership. Campbell is disappointing many with her choice to associate with a significant fashion polluter and for not using her celebrity platform to influence positive consumer changes toward embracing Slow Fashion.
Naomi Campbell said in a press statement,
“I’m looking at myself as a changemaker. As a changemaker, I thought this was a good thing to do. I know that it’s fast fashion and that people have their criticism. I’m not denying them. But as a changemaker, I felt this was a great way to effect change in the industry by recognizing my emerging designers and seeing them on a global platform.”
The Clash of Audiences
Naomi Campbell, a world-renowned supermodel who has been a fashion icon for decades, caters to a middle-aged audience that appreciates high-quality, timeless fashion. On the other hand, PrettyLittleThing targets a much younger demographic that seeks trendy, low-cost clothing options. The stark difference in target audiences raises questions about the compatibility of Campbell’s brand image with the ethos of PrettyLittleThing.
The Appeal to a New Audience
Despite the apparent mismatch, Naomi Campbell remains optimistic about the collaboration. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, she expressed her excitement about reaching a new and diverse audience. Campbell believes that the partnership with PrettyLittleThing will introduce her to a previously untapped market, allowing her to connect with a younger generation and expand her reach in the fashion industry.
The Challenge of Age-Appropriate Designs
One of the main concerns critics raise is the disconnect between Naomi Campbell’s brand image and the designs offered by PrettyLittleThing. The fast fashion label predominantly produces garments made from viscose and polyester, targeting younger customers with revealing styles and aggressive youth-focused design elements. These designs often need to be more practical for older customers who may prefer more modest and age-appropriate clothing options.
The Price of Disposability
Another point of contention is the disposable nature of PrettyLittleThing’s garments. The brand’s fast fashion business model constantly encourages consumers to update their wardrobes with inexpensive, poor-quality trend pieces. This approach contributes to the overconsumption of clothing and exacerbates the already significant environmental impact of the fashion industry.
The Reputation Risk for Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell’s decision to collaborate with a fast fashion brand like PrettyLittleThing comes with a potential reputational risk. In an era where sustainability and longevity are gaining prominence in the fashion industry, aligning oneself with a brand that promotes disposable fashion may raise eyebrows among industry peers and environmentally-conscious consumers.
The Pricing Predicament
While PrettyLittleThing’s low prices may seem appealing to budget-conscious shoppers, they reflect the disposable nature of the garments. The affordability of the collection raises concerns about the quality and durability of the products. As more consumers prioritize sustainable and ethical fashion practices, the demand for high-quality, long-lasting garments increases, challenging the viability of fast fashion business models.
The issue of overconsumption in the fashion industry was brought to the forefront with a news report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) in November 2021, shedding light on the abundance of discarded clothing accumulating in Chile’s Atacama Desert. It was revealed that a staggering 59,000 tons of second-hand clothing is imported annually to Chile from Europe, the US, and Asia for resale. Unfortunately, a substantial portion of approximately 39,000 tons is deemed unsellable and dumped in the desert. The fast fashion industry is known for its reliance on plastic fabrics and its enormous carbon footprint. These cheap garments require vast amounts of water, energy, and chemicals, contributing to pollution and resource depletion. Additionally, the rapid turnover of clothing leads to excessive waste, as garments are often worn only a few times before being discarded.
Another concerning aspect of fast fashion is exploiting workers in the supply chain. To keep up with the high demand and low prices, brands often outsource production to countries with lax labor regulations. This can result in unsafe working conditions, low wages, and long hours for garment workers, many of whom are women.
According to a report released in 2022 titled “Unbearable Harassment: The Fashion Industry and Widespread Abuse of Female Garment Workers in Indian Factories,” alarming findings were brought to light. The report revealed that every woman interviewed for the report, a total of 90 individuals, had personally experienced or witnessed gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) inflicted by male supervisors and managers at the factories where they were employed. This sobering reality highlights the pervasive and distressing issue female garment workers face in the fashion industry.
“Verbal, physical, and sexual harassment exists in every garment factory – not just this one. It existed before COVID, it exists during COVID, and it will exist after COVID…” Smita, Tamal Nadu.
PrettyLittleThing, a brand renowned for portraying happy individuals in its advertisements, faced significant disappointment with its low labor rating for the treatment of its labor. Only a small portion of its supply chain is certified by labor standards that ensure workers’ health, safety, and rights. In the Fashion Transparency Index, it received a 21-30% score, slightly improving from its previous score but still falling behind many others. Furthermore, no evidence indicates it implements practices promoting diversity and inclusion in its direct operations or supply chain. The brand also failed to provide sufficient policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic. To make matters worse, it does not appear that PrettyLittleThing pays a living wage. While their ambassadors may give an impression of happiness, the same cannot be said for the workers within their supply chain.
The Emergence of Slow Fashion
The rise of fast fashion has given way to a countermovement known as slow fashion. Slow fashion advocates for a conscious and mindful approach to fashion, encouraging consumers to choose high-quality, timeless garments that will last for years rather than succumbing to the constant cycle of trend-driven purchases. Slow style also emphasizes the need for fair treatment of workers and sustainable production processes.
Leading the Way: Sustainable Fashion Brands
In contrast to the fast fashion industry, numerous sustainable fashion brands have emerged, championing ethical practices and environmentally-friendly production methods. These brands prioritize quality, timeless design, and sustainable materials. Some notable examples include FABA, Reformation, Amour Vert, Everlane, and Patagonia. These brands have made it their mission to transform the fashion industry by offering alternatives to fast fashion and promoting a more sustainable and conscious approach to clothing consumption.
Slow Fashion: A Conscious and Mindful Approach
In stark contrast to the fast fashion model, slow fashion advocates for a more conscious and mindful approach to fashion. It encourages consumers to prioritize quality over quantity and invest in pieces that will last years. Slow fashion also emphasizes the importance of considering clothing production’s environmental and social impact.
Making Informed Choices
One of the core principles of slow fashion is encouraging consumers to make informed choices about their purchases. It involves asking ourselves if we genuinely need the garment we’re about to buy and considering the production processes and resources used to create it. By being more mindful of our consumption, we can reduce waste and support brands prioritizing sustainability and ethical practices.
Ethical and Transparent Production
Slow fashion brands prioritize fair treatment of workers and sustainable production practices. They often use organic and recycled materials, pay fair wages, and support local artisans and communities. By supporting these brands, consumers can contribute to a more equitable and eco-friendly fashion industry.
Timeless Design and High Quality
Unlike fast fashion, which churns out trendy pieces that quickly go out of style, slow fashion focuses on timeless designs that can be worn for years. The emphasis is on creating garments made to last, using high-quality materials and craftsmanship. Slow fashion aims to foster a deeper connection between consumers and their clothing, encouraging them to cherish and care for them.
Leading the Way: Slow Fashion Brands
As consumers become more aware of their fashion choices’ environmental and social impact, slow fashion brands are gaining popularity. These brands prioritize sustainability, ethics, and timeless style. Look at some leading slow fashion brands paving the way for a more sustainable fashion world.
Amour Vert, which means “green love” in French, is committed to creating stylish and sustainable fashion. They use organic and recycled materials and prioritize ethical manufacturing processes. Amour Vert also has a unique program called “Buy a Tee, Plant a Tree,” where they plant a tree for every t-shirt sold.
Everlane is known for its transparent pricing and commitment to ethical production. They provide detailed information about the factories and materials used in their products, allowing consumers to make informed choices. Everlane offers a range of wardrobe essentials, from basics to outerwear, all crafted with a focus on quality and sustainability.
Ane Howard, an artist and eco-fashion designer, is at the forefront of the slow fashion movement with her FABA Collection. Inspired by art and crafted with sustainable fabrics such as bamboo, recycled polyester, vegan and upcycled leather, and organic cotton, the FABA Collection offers unique and high-quality garments. Each piece is handcrafted by artisans who are paid a fair wage, ensuring ethical production practices.
Reformation is a well-known sustainable fashion brand that combines style and environmental consciousness. They prioritize eco-friendly materials, such as Tencel, recycled, and deadstock fabrics, to create trendy and timeless pieces. Reformation also focuses on transparency, providing information about the environmental impact of each garment on its website.
Patagonia, a pioneer in sustainable fashion, has been championing environmental and social responsibility for decades. They use recycled materials, organic cotton, and fair trade practices in their production. Patagonia also encourages repair and reuse through their Worn Wear program, where customers can bring in their old Patagonia garments for repair or trade-in.
A Call for Change
The collaboration between Naomi Campbell and PrettyLittleThing has ignited a conversation about the future of fashion and the need for more sustainable practices. It highlights the importance of making informed consumer choices and supporting brands prioritizing ethics and sustainability. We can contribute to a more environmentally friendly and socially conscious fashion industry by embracing slow fashion and supporting sustainable brands.
Transitioning to a Sustainable Fashion Future
The collaboration between Naomi Campbell and PrettyLittleThing has raised important questions about the compatibility of high-end fashion with the fast fashion business model. The emergence of slow fashion and the rise of sustainable fashion brands offer alternatives that prioritize ethical practices and environmental sustainability. It is up to the consumers to drive change by supporting brands that align with sustainable values and embrace a more conscious and sustainable approach to fashion.
Feature image: Computer-generated image of a black woman holding garbage bags. Copyrighted by SWNews.