As September, the month of fashion weeks draws to a close, I am reflecting on my thoughts towards fashion. In my early twenties, this world of glitz and glamour excited me massively. Why is it that it is so immensely appealing to people, myself included? As the fifth most polluting industry in the world, equal to livestock, it is crazy to think how little pressure they are put under when the livestock industry is facing so much backlash recently; surely both should be equally put to blame?
Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means perfect. I have only recently managed to wean myself off fast fashion for the most part, and in my heyday I was an atrocious spender and consumer. I completely understand the excitement which comes from purchasing a new item of clothing and wearing it for the first time; but the excitement leaves you feeling empty after the first wear. It is like an addiction; you want to keep having that feeling over and over until you realise you have a cupboard full of things and a bank full of zeros. For me, this was also accompanied by some guilt, knowing I was doing something bad but not having the willpower to stop myself.
In recent times, I have cut out my consumption of new fast fashion pieces and replaced with ethical brands, organic/ sustainable materials and vintage/ thrift shopping. For me, it has been too hard to go cold turkey and be a minimalist with a capsule wardrobe, but I like to think a switch is better than nothing. There is also the question of; is it better to not participate at all or support companies working towards a change? It is so hard to know what is right, but I hope my actions are at least putting support behind the right people and consequently contributing to some sort of a shift.
As for the fashion industry as a whole, I can see why they aren’t bothered. They will only change if they know there is money to be lost without it, as is the same with any multi-billionaire conglomerate company. Although the ultimate responsibility lies with them, it will be accelerated by the consumers. Saying this, I have seen shifts even in the fast fashion companies; there is a lot more organic cotton and Tencel/ Lyocell items cropping up, and recycling schemes in the H&M group chain is a step in the right direction. It isn’t so much clothing which is the issue, it is the way we treat it as a dispensable and disposable item when so much has gone into making it, sometimes even someones life. When my parents were young, clothing was so expensive you only had a few items; the original capsule wardrobe. My grandma has pieces she made when she was in her 30’s and still has in her wardrobe.
I think the biggest problem we have in the western world is our decadence; we are too privileged for our own good. A quote by John Powell is very apt in this situation:
“We live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people.”
Things are not worth someones life, or the life of a living creature. Things should not be thrown “away” (although “away” is just an illusion, when the reality is it has just been put somewhere to sit for centuries) because we are bored of them. We should be addicted to life, not things. It is a shame that we as humans cannot see that.