We’ve all heard of ‘Fast Fashion’. It’s a term used to describe the speed at which fashion brands work to get new trends in shops as soon as possible - often at the expense of working standards and the environment. It’s a vicious circle: trends arise, clothes get made in an unsustainable way, people buy the clothes, then people throw the clothes away when the next trend arises. Fast Fashion is unsustainable and wasteful on so many levels...but what about fast jewellery?
What we don’t hear about though is fast jewellery. The jewellery industry is currently worth a staggering $228bn USD in 2022. Some of this jewellery will be sustainable, yes – and some will last a lifetime. But what about the huge amounts of cheap jewellery that only last for a season? Where is all of this jewellery made, in what working conditions, and where does it go when people are bored of it?
It’s sort of an industry secret. Unlike clothing, when you buy a piece of jewellery there isn’t always a care label that says, ‘made in China’ – and a lot of the time you don’t know what the jewellery is even made of. There’s no evidence of manufacture that makes the customer think…’ahhh I seee’.
‘Fast jewellery’ doesn’t really roll off the tongue – but it definitely leaves a sour taste in our mouths. At Wild Fawn, it’s something we’ve always been conscious of – and it’s an issue that’s becoming increasingly important to think about now the World is focusing more on sustainability and ethical working practices.
The origins of jewellery before fast fashion
Jewellery has an extremely meaningful beginning. Humans have worn jewellery for thousands of years as a form of personal expression, with each piece holding huge significance. Fast jewellery doesn’t carry that same weight – much like fast fashion.
It was this that drew our founder, Emma, to jewellery as a creative outlet.
“When I first taught myself how to make jewellery, I would give pieces I’d made to family and friends and the love that went into each piece is still within it even now. Having studied anthropology I’d read a lot about the significance of tokens, gifts and the symbolism behind jewellery – so to make it and play an active part in that history felt incredibly special.”
Why Wild Fawn won’t stand for fast fashion
As Wild Fawn grew, Emma knew that sustainability and happy and healthy working conditions were the most important things to her.
“As the brand grew and I was spending more time making orders, people used to ask me why I didn’t just get it made abroad like the other jewellery brands. It wasn’t even an option for me. I want to know exactly how our jewellery is made – I would always want to know that any silversmith that worked for me was paid well, comfortable and in a healthy environment. It’s also important for me to see the end-to-end making process, so I know that sustainable and ethical practices are built into our jewellery from beginning to end. There are also the implications of shipping mass-made jewellery over from far flung places...the process of fast fashion is unsustainable from inception.”
The Wild Fawn Team’s close connection to the process of jewellery making is what’s makes them passionate about changing the status quo on how jewellery is made. “It’s a messy business, lots of heat and equipment is needed to make just one earring, it really is a labour of love and brands really need to do more to ensure that their jewellery isn’t just made with ‘eco-friendly’ materials but also made in working conditions that favour the maker, not just the bottom line”.
Away from fast fashion and fast jewellery – there has been a lot of positive change. More brands are turning toward recycled materials now, it’s more in demand - something Wild Fawn has been doing since its inception 7 years ago.
There are other initiatives brands are using such as carbon offsetting, donating to charities, working on plastic reduction etc – all of which are good steps in a very long ladder of fast fashion.
At the end of the day the question we shouldn’t only be asking what it’s made with but WHO is making the jewellery and how well are they paid and what are their working conditions? There are two sides to the jewellery coin, one is the materials, and one is the making. It seems some brands only care about one side, but we are and always with be passionate about both. We hope that other jewellery brands will join forces with us soon to start the new jewellery revolution.
We don’t want fast jewellery; we want jewellery that lasts a lifetime.