Over the last few years, I have thought a lot about the state of the global fashion industry, how it has come to be and what we can do to fix it. I am against fast fashion and I refuse to sit back and watch it eat away at the world. Why, as a global group of consumers, are we so caught up in the cycle of buying cheap clothing in abundance?
Don't get me wrong, clothing has always been a huge part of my life and I love expressing myself through what I wear. However, since discovering the wonders of travel a few years ago and setting off to Asia with no set plans to return, I have come to understand how serious and incredibly unnecessary our attachment to material things can be. Leaving home with one pack and a one way ticket, I had to start my journey of ‘non-attachment’ pretty quickly.
If we are so attached to the idea of trends and the subsequent unsustainable industry of fast and cheap fashion, is losing this attachment the sustainable way forward?
What if we were to lose this attachment to the notion that we need to constantly update our wardrobes? It’s a process, admittedly a difficult one, to detach ourselves from these things. Especially if this is what we are used to and how we have lived our lives for a long time. It's a commitment and a lifestyle change but it is something we can all do as individuals. This will assist in breaking the cycle of fast fashion, mass production and consumption of cheap clothing in an industry that is causing serious harm to people and the planet.
I believe that when we shed our dependence on material things, we can start to appreciate the things that we do have; their value and impact on ours and others' lives. This can occur through consideration of the manufacturing process and the life-cycle of our garments. We begin to understand and place value on where things come from, how they were made and by whom and what they are made with. For the fashion industry, this is critical. As part of the fashion revolution, and the global movement towards questioning "who made my clothes?", we can start to uncover these answers to make more informed consumer decisions and redefine the industry as we know it.
Campaigns such as Livia Firth and Eco-Age’s 30 wears challenge and Tom Cridland’s 30 year sweatshirt are all part of the movement towards banishing the fast fashion state of mind. They campaign against over-consumption, waste and planned obsolescence in the fashion industry. The 30 wears campaign promotes the concept of investment; committing to wearing an item of clothing at least 30 times before buying it. This challenge pushes a consumer to consider if they really ‘need’ it, drastically altering an individual’s purchasing behaviour. By buying a sweatshirt that is guaranteed 30 years of durability, we are reshaping our attitudes towards clothing and committing to an industry that is based on quality (on many different levels) over quantity.
By following the actions of these pioneers in the ethical fashion movement, we can break the cycle of fast fashion and over consumption and begin to place value in well-made items. By doing so, we can understand what constitutes as necessities and what does not. We can redefine our purchasing behaviour, depending on our own circumstances, to reduce our impact on the environment (through limiting our consumption of resources) and redirect our personal resources to cultivate the most positive human and social impact. When we reduce our consumption activities, we give ourselves the time to consider these things and the impact our purchase is actually making.
This journey of achieving non-attachment to fast fashion trends is one I am personally taking and which I encourage others to consider. Simply redefining the way in which we perceive clothing can make an incredibly positive difference across a global industry.