An undercurrent roiling the fashion world has been getting more and more attention in the press: current economic models for successful fast fashion houses are wreaking havoc on the environment and notoriously politically progressive industry leaders are grappling with how to stay successful while also maintaining ethical standards in line with the 21st century consumer.
Fashion purchases are irrational by nature. We buy a car because we need transportation, food because we need to eat, but our clothes and fashion accessories don’t fit the mold. Because they’re subject more to whim than necessity they trigger different parts of our brains. When we talk about impulse buying, shopper’s highs and fashion addiction, we’re actually speaking to a chemical reaction, a “bonus” response, within the brain: neurotransmitter surges of dopamine flood our brain when we stumble upon something that on a subconscious level screams “Value!” It’s kind of like the primordial version of myself stumbling on an unattended food cache, or the modern version of discovering Ray Donovan is suddenly on Netflix and I can watch without signing up for Showtime streaming in addition to every other streaming service I pay for but don’t use. Purchasing anything unnecessary to our survival is like finding a free streaming service that you know you’d really enjoy: dopamine rush right to the head. Because fashion isn’t a necessity, we trigger a dopamine rush with every swipe of the credit card.
What this means for fashion is two-fold. If people are shopping as a function of brain chemistry, then the fashion industry must adjust by creating more objects of satisfaction as cheaply as possible. If in a rush to create said pieces they neglect to responsibly source and manufacture the items, the strain of those choices on the environment can be staggering.
The most recent EPA estimates indicate that textiles, leather, and rubber make up more than 9% of solid waste in the United States. If products are shipped from overseas, estimates indicate that “one container ship can produce the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars.” This is to say nothing of the literally billions of dollars of product that the fast fashion world burns when they can’t sell: $4.3 billion in merchandise is enough to power an entire plant on clothes instead of coal. While the global fashion industry has made an effort to curb this trend to match a wave of consumers becoming more and more eco-friendly, it was critical for Ellis Wilson Designs to fit within this global dynamic specifically in a way that not only benefits those who buy our products but is also respectful of the world in which we live.
Ellis Wilson Designs is made and manufactured in the United States from ethically sourced materials. We know where our hides come from, we have personally met the people who stitch them, and we have oversight of every part of the process. From a design standpoint, the tassels are not only great looking, versatile, and super fun, they’re also a way of insuring that every strand of excess material is accounted for and used so that, while there is some environmental impact, it is as limited as possible because we waste nothing in the process.
More importantly and in contradiction of the broader and popular movement for Fast Fashion, Ellis Wilson Designs is built as a collection of Investment Pieces. Our intention is to create a product that will last you decades. It not only benefits our customers to have such a well-made product: it benefits the planet we are fortunate to call home. In the end we hope the world will see that it’s better to have one great accessory than ten disposable ones. Fashion and our planet can coexist under the right circumstances and we plan on Ellis Wilson Designs being a leader of that movement.