The fashion industry is one of the most creative and influential outlets of modern day society. With clothing being a great way for personal expression when it comes to representing our personalities, moods, occupations etc, it’s understandable as to why people can get so involved when it comes to what they wear. On the other hand, the fashion industry has also at times became a reflection of current social states, such as the current rise of social media having a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and our style in comparison to what we see around us.
As people have became more dedicated overtime towards shaping their wardrobes to fit each season or reflect on current trends, fast fashion has had a major rise over the past few decades. Companies like H&M, Topshop, Primark, etc, all follow similar ethics that involve producing clothing at such a rate that will keep up with the current trends no matter what the dangers are for those who are actually making the clothes. The harsh production cycle starts in sweatshops in deprived areas of the world, where women and children are working long shifts in very poor circumstances in order to get a very underpaid wage so they can provide food for their families. Today marks 5 years since the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed to the floor due to unsafe circumstances, where 1,134 innocent lives were taken due to the neglect of Western Brands concern for their workers’ safety and well-being.
New laws have been put in place to attempt to improve the conditions and deserved earnings for these kinds of workers, however the continuous increase of fast fashion and ‘needing to buy the newest in thing’ will not make much of a difference to the way companies treat and protect those who are providing them with their multimillion dollar businesses. Fast fashion not only adds pressure to the rate at which these sweatshops are forced to being working, but it’s also deteriorating the environment at the same time. As we buy new items for our wardrobes to fit in with the trends, we are throwing out anything that we might not wear anymore because ‘it’s not in’ or ‘it doesn’t look as good as when you first bought it’. These types of garments get tossed into landfill and are one of the biggest elements of waste we chuck out every year. As a result, we are harming our planet at a devastating rate without any signs of slowing down.
So how can we make a difference towards this? Well, in some ways it’s a lot like recycling. Like using a water bottle maybe once or twice and then binning it to get a new one, we often have the same approach when it comes to clothes; we wear something once or twice, then decide we don’t like it or we just simply forget about it, then chuck it out when we decide we don’t need it. Instead, there are multiple different ways to not only recycle the clothes we have now that we don’t like, but also to curate our wardrobes in order to be more efficient with our time, money, and our clothes. Here are a few examples as to how you can help…
1. Create a capsule wardrobe
You may or may not have heard the term ‘ capsule wardrobe’ before, but it’s a term given to a wardrobe that has everything that you would ever need that’s fitted to your personal taste. The idea is that you curate your wardrobe based around your occupation, what specific types of garments you prefer to wear, and depending on the season. There are no set rules to a capsule wardrobe, however the main idea is to only have what you need whilst also decluttering your wardrobe of anything you don’t need. Here are two links to videos on how to start a capsule wardrobe:
2. Buying from vintage shops/charity shops
I’d be lying if I were to say that most of my wardrobe isn’t either vintage or from charity shops. Although there is a weird stigma around buying second hand clothing, you simply cannot find certain designs or patterns anymore. Vintage items often have so much detail in them that you know just from looking at it that a lot of time and effort went into it. Charity shops and vintage shops are the best way to shop ethically and give garments a second life, speaking of which, you can also donate your old clothes to charity shops to give them a second life too and to keep the cycle going.
3. Shopping ethically
One thing you should not get from this post is to feel guilty about what you’re buying and where you’re buying things from. High street shopping does definitely offer the benefits of finding an item you will like, in your own size, and usually at an affordable price. All I’m asking you to do is to think about how you value your clothes, and also how you value people’s lives too. Style should always have a fun and positive approach, so don’t be pressured by trends or what is ‘fashionable at the time’.
Thanks for reading, this was a bit more of a heavy topic compared to previous posts, but it was equally as fulfilling to write! X