According to the dictionary, the definition of the word fashion is “a style that is popular at a particular time, especially in clothes”. Fashion has always been a major part of people’s lives. The past few years though this field has become a business phenomenon, totally profitable. Especially “fast fashion” reigns in the fashion industry. It seems like everything is spinning around fast fashion retailers. In case you needed further proof, the owner of the colossus called Inditex (the Zara boss to be precise) has been named the richest man in the whole wide world.
In the name of “fast fashion” billions or even trillions of dollars are being invested. However, have you ever thought about what’s going on behind that perfect window display? While shopping, have you ever wondered the ratio between quality and quantity of the things you are buying? Or have you ever asked yourself how the item you are about to purchase has reached your hands?
These are only a few of the questions that will be addressed by the fashion designer and YouTuber Justine Leconte in her talk for our Consciousnet. Just before the highly anticipated main event, we had the chance to exclusively interview the lovely Justine. Let’s meet her!
Would you like to introduce yourself to the TEDxUoM audience?
My name is Justine Leconte. I am a fashion designer based in Berlin, Germany, but I am originally French. I design for women and entirely in knitwear, which means high comfort and creative textiles. On top of that, I run a YouTube channel where I talk about style, trends, my work as a designer. I also use this channel to break myths about the fashion industry – for consumers who don’t necessarily have any previous knowledge in fashion but are interested in learning about this topic.
How did you decide to talk about fast fashion?
Fast fashion is a part of the fashion industry that has grown very fast over the past years, and that has damaged people’s relationship to clothes as well as their perception of what quality is. Fast fashion brands sell very low quality, very cheap, disposable. We buy without really thinking about it and end up with a full closet… and still nothing to wear. I am in favour of buying less things, but of higher quality. It looks better, feels better and it is not more expensive on the long run.
What should the readers be looking forward to your talk?
While we pay 5€ for a t-shirt in Europe and think we found a bargain, garment workers on the other side of the world are not even earning a living wage.The main problem is the lack of information. If people knew what is happening, they could make a more informed purchase decision when shopping for clothes.
Do you know by how much the retail price of that t-shirt would increase if we paid the garment workers enough to be able to live? The answer would surprise you and will be in the talk.
How do you feel about fast fashion retailers in our days?
They seem to be everywhere because they have huge marketing budgets. You see their ads on bus stops, on TV or on the internet, all day. They bring new collections every 2 weeks, which seems really quick. The secret behind the speed is that they actually copy “high fashion” houses. Instead of having to invent everything, they skip the design part and go into production. Fit doesn’t matter, the quality of the seams doesn’t matter. The result is a very cheap retail price but you only get what you pay for. You can’t get a Ferrari for the price of a Peugeot.
How do you manage to stay true to your own beliefs (value of craftmanship, quality, comfort)?
While fast fashion is an international trend, it is by far not the only one. There will always be consumers who prefer to buy less clothes but better quality: maybe they are “minimalists”, maybe they are “eco-lovers”, maybe they are more affluent, maybe they are simply older and got sick of cheap clothes that lose their shape and color after a few washes. There are people who used to buy fast fashion and stopped doing so, for quality or ethics reasons. Or because they no longer wanted to wear what others are wearing.
So to answer your question, I don’t think fast fashion is the only path possible and I focus on consumers who are interested in wearing something different. And when people find me on YouTube, it is because they have been looking for another way of doing fashion.
Where do you get inspiration from?
For me, Berlin is full of inspiration, so many people from everywhere in the world live here. That’s why I chose this city to establish my fashion label. Freedom is important here, maybe that’s why it attracts people from everywhere and everybody fits in. Berlin is very tolerant. I, also, love history and culture(s). The best for me is when people from different countries are gathered in one room and compare their opinions. It is incredibly inspiring. For the same reason, I enjoying traveling to places I have never been to and come back with impressions.