Fashion. It rules our lives every single day, whether you realise it or not! For those of you who have seen the film “The Devil Wears Prada” there’s a scene that describes perfectly how fashion effects each and every one of us. Meryl Streep explains to Ann Hathaway that though her choice to wear a plain blue jumper may seem insignificant to her, the fashion industry has actually decided for her that she should wear that particular item. Watch it if you get a moment, it’s pretty frightening when you think about it…
The idea of sustainable fashion is not a new one to me. But I’ve realised my definition of what a sustainable item of clothing is, is far too narrow and specific. I’m interested in what my clothes are made from. I’ve recently been looking into organic cotton clothing a lot more. And how about the conditions that workers are put through in order to make our clothing? This is a well documented battle that is ongoing throughout the world.
But truthfully, when I look at a new dress or jumper, what I don’t see is the pollution that it caused on its journey of being made. A friend of mine shared a fantastic article from the Guardian recently (https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/apr/25/sustainable-clothing-fashion-revolution-week-rana-plaza-emma-watson) that claims how people are far more interested in the story behind their clothing nowadays. This got me thinking. What kind of clothing could have the most interesting and fascinating story? The answer may or may not surprise you…
It has to be without a shadow of a doubt the second hand item of clothing. Think about it. Where it came from, where it’s been, why people are ready to pass them on. Perhaps that person has reached a goal in significant weight loss, or changed their appearance completely to embrace a new image. Maybe that person has started a family and those clothes have served their purpose for that person.
I’m a big lover of the charity shop (as is my husband, often bosting about his designer finds when popping in to a well known charity’s shops for his work). But obviously you need an open mind for what you’re looking for. eBay is the place for me. I often know what I’m looking for and I save a tonne of money! A local organisation to me recently posted a fabulous initiative for a clothes exchange, you turn up with 6 items of clothing and leave with 6 completely different ones. How exciting! I’ve been thinking of trialling that idea in my village… watch this space…
But despite the access to designer brands at a far cheaper price, the attraction to new clothing seems to remain too much to beat on many an occasion. We are after all, going though a period of mass consumption in this world. We appear to be at a tipping point, where fashion industries are beginning to use a greener approach, but for what purpose? Are they honestly considering the impact that their companies are having on the planet? Or have they seen a completely new fashion trend of being “eco-friendly” – and that’s all it is. A trend, that will pass.
In the article posted above they talk of many initiatives where people have started truly sustainable clothing companies. There are some fantastic ideas out there. But they all rely on one thing to survive. Us. The consumer. They rely on us making the decision to consider the impact our purchases are making. Not just on the planet, but on the people who make the product. Most people will say that they can’t afford to shop ethically, especially for children. They grow so fast! But there are many groups and shops out there who provide amazing market places for some incredible second hand purchases. I encourage you all to explore them if you can.
So what’s the message from this blog? Second hand does not mean second best. It simply means your clothing has been on a longer journey, helped more people and is now ready to continue that journey with you. A day will come in the not so distant future where our world will no longer be able to provide us with “brand new”. Our natural resources will only stretch so far. We need to act now and change the fashion trends ourselves. Give second hand a go. You’ll be amazed at how your attitude changes.
Thanks for reading.