15 Reasons Why Shopping Local Is Beneficial When It Comes To Fashion
We’ve been hearing for months the phrase “support local” as the entire world has been forced into quarantine. Borders have been closed and everyone has been screaming from every direction, support your local businesses because they are the ones that are suffering the most right now.
Well what if, after the pandemic is over, we don’t stop supporting our local businesses and we made it a habit to shop local more often? In this blog post I’m going to touch on a few important points about how shopping local can be a better option for our future.
When it comes to shopping for clothing we have a few options. 2 of the main ones are encouraging “slow” fashion or partaking in “fast” fashion.
Fast fashion is the clothing you would get from big box stores and giant name brands such as H&M and Zara, to name a few, who are introducing new styles every couple of weeks.
The destructive side of this kind of business is astronomical. Not only is this type of business model extremely wasteful but the fast fashion industry is well known for exploiting both overseas workers and American workers, in different ways, the costs associated with it are environmentally devastating and they are contributing to the decrease in North American manufacturing facilities which in turn eliminates local jobs.
Did you know that the fast fashion industry is currently ranking as the second most polluting industry in the world, next to big oil! For something that is so important to so many people it’s insane to think about!
With that in mind I would like to switch gears and have a look at the “slow” fashion industry and what it looks like. Slow fashion simply means buying higher quality clothing that is not mass produced. Typically this clothing style is more unique and often supplied by local businesses.
Now I know shopping local can be a little bit more expensive and for some people that’s hard to get passed, but if you think about all of the reasons and benefits behind shopping local you might think a little more differently.
Let me highlight a few reasons why shopping local can be great for both you, your community and the world.
More Higher Quality Jobs are Created for Local Workers by Local Businesses.
When you shop locally small businesses are able to take on more work which inevitably results in more, higher quality jobs being created within your community. The clothing industry has more than just sewing and cutting jobs. Designers also need help with marketing, pattern making, production, sourcing materials, sales, distribution, accounting and bookkeeping, to name a few. Creating all of these jobs helps the local economy to grow as more people are working and contributing to the stimulation of the local economy. Higher quality jobs also results in less turnover as employees are more satisfied with their positions.
Public Benefits Far Outweigh Public Costs
When compared to big box stores local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure to function with and they are more efficient at utilizing public resources and services.
Stimulates the Economy by Keeping Manufacturing Plants Open
Manufacturing plants are a major source of jobs in almost any industry. With all of the moving parts that go into production and the running of manufacturing plants there is no shortage of opportunity for local workers. But when companies start sending more and more production processes overseas it forces local manufacturing plants to shut down, thus cutting jobs and moving a large amount of money out of the local economy. Not only that but over time people lose the know-how and a certain level of autonomy making it harder to bring that industry back in the future.
You Are Supporting Yourself
By purchasing from locally-owned, independent businesses instead of international-owned companies studies have shown that significantly more money stays within the local economy. This is because the money that local businesses get from you they then turn around and spend it at other local businesses which in turn strengthens the entire economic base of the community. It also creates more stable jobs all around.
Unique Businesses Create Character
Local designers are able to offer a unique style that you won’t be able to find at big box stores, or anywhere else for that matter. With the freedom to embrace their own unique style, local designers are able to bring a certain flair to the community. This uniqueness is great for tourism. Increasing the unique character of a community also plays a factor in the overall satisfaction that people have with where they live.
Customer Service Is Better
As local businesses expand and create more jobs they are able to hire people from their local communities, people with more specific product expertise so that they can better assist customers with their needs. These are people that you will probably already know or will see around town so the likelihood of them putting the bottom line of the business over your shopping experience is much less likely. Local owners can also offer more personal advice and services for you that you won’t be able to get anywhere else.
Possibility Of Low Minimums
Lower minimums means that small business owners have the ability to order less product at any given time or have the option for custom made orders. This fact is important for many reasons. Having less production means there is less waste associated with producing their clothing, it leaves more money in the business owners pocket so that they can reinvest it back into the economy and it significantly lowers the risk to small business owners.
Local Business Owners Invest In Their Community
When you support local businesses you are helping local business owners support the local economy. They do this in a multitude of ways. Local businesses are responsible for most of the new jobs in a community so when they have extra money they can hire more people. Business owners spend the money they make to buy supplies from other businesses. Local business owners also live in the community and are less likely to go elsewhere to spend the money that they make because they are just as invested as you are in the community's welfare and future.
Non Profits Receive Greater Support
Studies have shown that local business owners are more likely to donate to local charities than non-local business owners are. Again because local businesses owners are invested in the community’s welfare and future and want every aspect of it to succeed.
Quick Turnover Time
When it comes to domestic development and manufacturing, typically you will find that their turnover timelines are much shorter than those of international production companies. This is because items don’t have to ship as far, neither do you have to worry about overseas shipping fees and delays or customs hold-ups. Items are also being produced in smaller quantities meaning they can be shipped out faster because there is less product to wait on.
Custom, made-to-order items may take slightly longer to ship, but they will still be faster and more efficient than purchasing items from overseas and you can be sure that the quality will be better as well.
The further away the company is from the different elements of its supply chain, the less control they have over them. So if a problem were to arise during the production process it will be harder to deal with if you are working with a company that is halfway around the world. Face-to-face communication will allow companies to address any concerns and ensure all products adhere to production standards. Even if face-to-face isn’t possible working with a production company that is in a similar time zone to you helps to expedite any problem that may arise so that it can be resolved quickly. It is said that the country in which something is made tends to be an indicator of its quality and we couldn’t agree more.
Overseeing Work Conditions — Health & Safety Checks
Employees safety and well being should be at the forefront of every warehouse’s priorities, but when you send more and more production pieces overseas you can’t ensure that conditions are safe for employees and that they are being taken care of appropriately. Local production standards, especially in Canada, are enforced by law meaning all companies follow strict and high standards when it comes to working conditions and they encourage all companies to make sure workers partake in regular health and safety checks.
Each company can do this in whatever way best suits their culture and some make the health and wellness of their employees more of a priority in different ways. We all know that a mind that is not well or a body that is not rested cannot produce great results because their basic human needs are not being met.
Knowing this we also know that work hours can be optimally restricted and regulated and breaks are included throughout the work day, ensure that workers rights are protected, both by law and other interest groups.
Countries like Canada also have laws entitling employees with the right to speak up if something doesn’t seem right in the workplace or is unsafe and know that their concerns will be looked into and taken care of by some unbiased outside authority.
Strict Guidelines for Waste Disposal
Waste disposal practices are still inconsistent from one country to another and unfortunately, in many countries, wrong-doing is not so uncommon. First world countries like Canada, the US and the EU have strict guidelines when it comes to waste disposal, but unfortunately many countries that we currently rely on for our production chains do not.
Commonly you will find Canadian made clothing production lines to be quite transparent and when you talk to local designers they will be able to tell you where their materials come from. If you ask someone the same question at a large retail store they won’t be able to answer that question for you. Often if you look deeper into it you will struggle to find the entire production line because it is quite common for overseas companies to subcontract out parts of their production process because it is cheaper or faster.
Why is this important? Because if you can’t trace the production process for your company how are you going to ensure that things like waste disposal are being done safely and appropriately? It is not uncommon for dyes used in clothing production to make their way into rivers and streams, thus polluting the environment and water supply. Few laws are in place to stop pollution like this from cloth mills overseas.
Another aspect to consider when it comes to waste disposal is how much excess product needs to be disposed of in the first place. Small-scale local production helps to eliminate the waste of unneeded products made to adhere to overseas minimums, which in turn reduces emissions and energy usage. Obsolete inventory quickly becomes a thing of the past. Not to mention the waste caused during shipment: excessive packaging and labels, aligned with multi-channel transportation, emissions and cost of fuel (whether cargo plane or ships).
Small local businesses usually set up shop in the town/village center, providing a centralized variety that is much friendlier to a community’s walk score than out of town shopping malls. This means contributing less to expansion, habitat loss and pollution. All these tiny particles of production altogether impose a tremendous weight on the environment, which could all be alleviated choosing local production.
14. Proximity Is Cleaner
Think for a minute about the amount of fuel and maintenance needed to transport goods to North America from overseas. It’s a pretty high cost over time when everything is totaled up. Items that are manufactured in North America have a much shorter distance to travel so the fuel and environmental impact of transporting these goods is so much less. This helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the clothing industry. Smaller scale manufacturers also only make what they need, rather than making large quantities of items, thus reducing any additional waste.
15. Competition And Diversity Leads To More Consumer Choices
When you have a big box store, yes you have a lot of choices, but ask yourself, is that store giving back to the community and adding value to your neighborhood? When you have a marketplace full of thousands of unique small businesses not only do you have added character to your community, but you also have a large variety of choices to choose from, lower prices over the long term and money that is going back into the community that will help it to grow.
As you can see there are so many reasons why supporting local businesses is important. Supporting local helps the economy grow strong, it helps the labour force stay working and it helps reduce our impact on the environment. Buying locally made clothes is a step towards sustainability and even though it is still far from the norm the benefits of it cannot be overlooked.