Earlier this year, BBC iPlayer began streaming ‘Breaking Fashion’. It gives an insider look into life at the In the Style offices. Based in Manchester, the brand are at the forefront of the influencer sphere. Emily Atack, Charlotte Crosby, and Lorna Luxe just to name a few. Since it began, I’ve been hooked. For all the wrong reasons…
If you remember my Missguided £1 bikini post, you’ll know where I’m going with this. In the current climate crisis, how can we still be promoting and supporting this nature of business?
The beginning of each episode shows Adam Frisby, CEO of In the Style states, “oh it’s fast fashion, that’s unsustainable, it means they don’t care. I like to challenge that.” But I want to ask how exactly? Because from the very first episode, it’s made all too apparent that no thought is given to sustainability in the running of this business.
Ah yes, the hallmark of sustainability. Brand new collections, made from brand new materials, more than likely through the use of cheap labour in unsafe conditions.
According to Fashion Revolution, the average garment is worn just 7 times before going to landfill. Not only that, but an estimated 40% of clothing items are simply never worn.
What does that tell you about the fashion industry as a whole? Or our shopping habits, for that matter?
This is mentioned almost every episode, and spoken like a statement of pride. But where is this sense of pride coming from? It’s difficult to not be at least somewhat aware of the connotations that comes with the term ‘fast fashion’.
Their Lorna Luxe episode saw them source a missing collection item from China in just 48 hours. Then in a later episode the team scrambles to recreate a Kylie Jenner knitted bodysuit before rival fast fashion brands get their foot in the door.
As a company who are supposedly trying to “challenge” that idea of their brand, they’re not doing too great of a job.
The most uncomfortable part to watch for me was Adam Frisby’s meltdowns. As if demanding low prices and seemingly impossible deadlines wasn’t enough already.
The slightest inconvenience sees Adam throwing childlike temper tantrums with his staff. Be it over an underwhelming photoshoot, or something completely out of their control i.e. stock production not maintaining schedule. The show sees him hiding out in his office, ignoring staff members, and reeling off swearwords angrily over the phone.
Sure, running a business is stressful. Things don’t always go your way and it can throw a real spanner in the works. But where is the sense of professionalism? Why does it feel like I’m sat watching a Year 9 cat fight?
This has only been reinforced by Frisby’s reaction to online critics. He’s been quick to tear people down, branding them as ‘trolls’ simply trying to discredit his achievements. Yes, it’s impressive that he’s built a multi million pound business. But the business model is, quite frankly, outdated. Fast fashion is losing it’s edge.
In addition to the Twitter spats between Adam Frisby and the general public, there have been people taking their concerns to the BBC. Writer and climate activist Bel Jacobs posted a screenshot of the reply sent to her by the BBC in regards to her complaints about Breaking Fashion.
The email states that the docuseries provides an “honest and impartial portrayal” of the fast fashion industry. It doesn’t take a fool to see this is far from true. Each of the six episodes glorifies the entire business model. It whisks you through the glamourous press trips, photoshoots, collaborative collections and so on.
Sure, there are bumps in the road, but the entire series is a bit of a “Devil Wears Prada” moment. As for “challenging” the sustainability of In the Style, the show barely scratches the surface.
Seemingly in response to the onslaught of backlash to Breaking Fashion, In the Style have partnered with the Marine Conservation Society. They pledge to donate 1p per item sold to MCS, and also list a series of tips on their website for extending the life of your In the Style items.
Much like H&M, they’re also going down the ‘recycle your clothes for vouchers’ route. Which only enhances the issue of their business model even more. The problem is the mindset that we need to be out with the old and in with the new. Our wardrobes should be seeing us through years of our lives, not mere weeks.
Make of it what you will, but it just feels like they’re trying to cover their tracks. They’ve highlighted themselves as the definition of fast fashion, and suddenly realised it’s no longer a reputation to be proud of.
The BBC had so much opportunity with this documentary. It could’ve taken a more educational angle on the inner workings of the fast fashion industry. Think design process, collection turnover, waste management and regulation of unsold stock. Along with the more obvious factory conditions and treatment of garment workers.
Instead, we have a 6 episode long advertisement for In the Style. Complete with celebrity cameos and TOWIE-level drama. Casually promoting more and more fast fashion. Not to mention the influencer trips and campaign shoot in Ibiza. I can only imagine the carbon footprint associated with them at this point.
Let’s put all of this into perspective shall we?
It takes approximately 2720 litres of water to produce one t-shirt.
99.2% of garment workers in India (out of 1,452 home workers) are subjected to forced labour.
Clothing accounts for 34.8% of ocean microplastic globally.
Over 60% of garment workers in Bangladesh report working illegal overtime hours.
Clothes consumption accounts for 6000 cars worth of CO2 per year.
It’s estimated 170 million children are working illegally within the fashion supply chain.
Each year, £140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfill. That’s just the UK alone.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.