The Row – A brief insight into its ties to ethical garment making and sustainability.

The Row

Photo cred: The Row

Written by Francesco Pons

Fast fashion is bad. Awful. A black hole of consumerism, non-ethical manufacturing, and greed. I dare to say it, but even mid to high end luxury is bad. A scam.

According to the UN Environmental Programme, the fashion industry produces 20 percent of global wastewater and 10 percent of global carbon emissions. It is common knowledge that many if not all garment workers who work for fast fashion brands are severely underpaid, work in less than adequate conditions and are often children. It’s also glaringly obvious most of the clothing produced and sold is of awful quality. Distribution undoubtedly adds to emissions, recyclability of packaging is an afterthought and consumers won’t stop buying en masse. It’s truly a lot to reckon with for the fashion girlies! They do love to downplay this one.

So, where does the truly eco conscious fashion devotee go if not to their Depop?

The Row Fashion Show

Photo cred: The Row

Enter, ‘The Row’. The illusively named brand founded by Mary- Kate and Ashley Olsen, the iconic fashion duo. The pair are best known for their uniform; a variation of the biggest coat you’ve ever seen (almost exclusively in a black or navy), sun-kissed blonde hair, dark sunglasses, and a ruined Birkin. Iconic! Who wouldn’t want to see what these two bring to the table, right?

The thing is, when I think of celebs of the 2000s launching fashion labels, my mind is instantly propelled to the store fronts of DASH, the boutique clothing and accessory chain founded in 2006 by the Kardashian sisters. An overpriced, underwhelming cash grab with undoubtedly questionable ethics with regards to the making of the garments.

One would hope such a chic duo would be inclined to reach a little further and bring something new to an oftentimes saturated market. The Olsens did just that with The Row. The Row is an understanding between the consumer, the designer and the producer. An understanding that good clothing takes time, talent, the most sublime fabrics and cuts and of course, money.

The Row Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear Collection | VogueThe Row Fall 2020

Photo cred: The Row

I’m not sure the average consumer could understand why a vest top would cost $900 or a pair of pants nearly $2,000. But allow me to explain. That vest top is made of 90% wool, 10% cashmere. The pants are 100% silk. The Financial Times stated ‘womenswear is made predominantly in New York’s Garment District’ with some artisanal production carried out internationally. Menswear is produced in Japan, Europe and the US’.

The twins pride themselves on ‘exceptional fabrics, impeccable details, and precise tailoring’ and have said that ‘The Row’s collections [also] explore the strength of simplistic shapes that speak to discretion and are based on uncompromising quality’. These pieces are quite simplistic in their design but intended to last.

 

The Row Founders Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Talk About High Prices and Their Older Target Customer

Photo cred: The Row

The essence of sustainability. Which brings me to my point: Is The Row a shining example of what sustainable fashion and consumerism ought to look like? Or, if all Ready-To- Wear clothing was produced in the way The Row is, would the price be so astronomical? Does it glamorize the reality of sustainability, hiking up prices, taking away from its importance, creating a further gap between consumers.?

If we base our current understanding of sustainable clothing on this brand, does that mean sustainable fashion is truly unattainable to the masses and will remain as just a luxury?

Surely, we should all have the opportunity to be donning some silk and cashmere!