When Nikki Reed isn’t on the big screen fighting evil vampires with the rest of the Cullen clan, she is creating ethical jewelry, clothing, home and beauty items for her sustainable brand, Bayou with Love. In 2017, the Twilight actress launched Bayou with Love in partnership with Freedom of Animals founder Morgan Bogle to create “a zero waste model with the smallest footprint possible.”
“I think what initially made me want to start Bayou was the desire to find products in the fashion industry that were ethically made, sustainable and chemical-free, and I couldn’t find any,” Reed said in an interview on her website. “I thought, ‘If I’m looking for them, other women must be too.’”
Fashion trends are constantly changing — driving consumers to frequently purchase new products.
And there’s a term for this: Fast fashion.
What Is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is an approach to the design, creation and marketing of clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. This might seem ideal, but it causes a host of ethical and environmental concerns.
Many prominent fashion brands, such as Forever 21 and H&M, contract with suppliers in underdeveloped countries to receive high quantities of clothing for a low price. Oftentimes these suppliers are unregistered, meaning they do not have to abide by any laws to provide safe working conditions for employees.
To keep up with big-brand demands, sweatshop workers are often forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Further, their salaries do not align with the extreme hours. For example, in Bangladesh workers are paid around 33 cents an hour.
Sadly, this is often their best option. Unethical clothing manufacturers typically target the poor — specifically women and children.
Working conditions in these sweatshops are toxic. Without proper ventilation, employees inhale toxic substances, like fiber dust and sand.
Additionally, the infrastructure of these buildings is often unsafe. A devastating incident in 2013 revealed the extreme danger of these sweatshops. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza sweatshop collapsed and killed 1,134 garment workers. The building could not support the number of people and generators that were packed in at once.
The pace at which the fast fashion industry produces clothing pushes consumers to buy new products — often, this means discarding old ones. According to reports, the average person buys 60% more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago but only keeps them for half the time.
Many of these discarded clothing items are in great condition but head straight to landfills. More than 100 billion garments are produced each year, but 87% end up in landfills or incinerators — emitting toxic gasses into the atmosphere.
On the bright side, brands like Bayou with Love and thrift stores are working toward sustainability in the fashion industry.
Bayou’s Sustainability Efforts
Bayou with Love’s partnership with Dell is one of the unique ways that it practices sustainability. By extracting gold from e-waste like old computer motherboards, Dell and its partners help Bayou with Love create recycled jewelry ranging from engagement rings to everyday necklaces, bracelets, earrings and more. The process is more environmentally friendly than extracting gold from the earth.
Bayou with Love also uses environmentally friendly materials for its clothing. These include cupro, recycled cotton canvas, tencel, post-consumer plastic, low-chemical-content chambrays and dyeing techniques and organic cotton to name a few.
The idea of thrifting or buying second-hand items is not new but is rapidly growing for a variety of reasons — TikTok among them. Many fashion and lifestyle creators post videos on the app of different outfits they created completely from thrift stores. For example, @halleykate rose to popularity on the app by posting “thrift hauls.” Now with more than 1 million followers on the platform, Halley’s videos promote sustainable yet trendy shopping habits.
Online thrift stores are a relatively new concept, too, with the launch of eBay and Craigslist in 1995. Since then, sites such as ThreadUp, Poshmark, DePop and others have made second-hand shopping easier. ThreadUp’s annual resale report for 2022 showed that thrift shopping is expected to grow 127% by 2026.
The push for sustainable fashion choices could play a vital role in protecting both the environment and people working in unsafe conditions. By combatting the fast fashion industry with Bayou with Love, Nikki Reed is promoting a new, healthier way to shop and be stylish.
– Taylor Barbadora