Collaborative Fashion Consumption
Fashion consumption over the past 5 years, and for many more years to come, has reached a pivotal moment. Whilst we are churning out 62 million tonnes of clothing globally, the popularity of collaborative fashion consumption has accelerated rapidly, particularly in high-income countries and amongst millennials and Gen Z. For the majority of the 2010s, the integration of sustainable fashion into the markets was manifested through minimalist, simple pieces to create a “capsule wardrobe”. The search for sustainable brands and clothes involved the inevitable sacrifice of the variety and creativity that came with fast fashion.
Collaborative fashion consumption is a term used largely in academia to describe the gifting, swapping, second-handing, sharing, lending, and renting of clothing. This way of consumption plays a key role in building a circular and shared economy that is desired to achieve a more resource-sensitive, fairer, and conscious fashion industry. As Covid-19 has raised questions about how we consume, the aftermath of the pandemic is likely to see collaborative fashion consumption flourish.
A post-pandemic excitement to get out into the world again has meant young consumers are keener than ever to “dress up” and bring the creativity they explored during the pandemic into light. Articles from Mojeh and McKinsey & Company have indicated that the pandemic has been a driving force in moving from minimalism to maximalism.
It is undeniable that fashion is an art form and plays a huge role in how we express our identity and how we present ourselves to the world. Fashion is not only a practical utility, but a means of communicating with each other, and creating a sense of purpose and identity about who you are in the world. There is much to gain from this fulfilment, by feeling connected to our communities, exploring our creativity through everyday life, and taking pride in the things that make us an individual. The advocacy of minimalism is never going to win over those who find great enjoyment and take pride in being creative through clothing.
A means to sustainable maximalism has been produced in the form of collaborative fashion consumption. To fulfil the desires of the “conscious maximalist”, the means to consumption must fulfil four key pillars: colour and print, intention, abundance, and inclusivity. Colour and print empowers those for whom creative expression is very important; intention is knowing and understanding where your item has come from and how it was made; abundance is having variety; and inclusivity is mixing luxury and everyday fashion as well as accommodating for all body sizes. These pillars allow for fashion that values creativity, equality, and environmental consciousness, creating a market for sustainability.
The replacement of fast fashion with collective fashion consumption is not without its challenges. Boohoo, a thriving UK fast fashion company, made £945.1 million in revenue in 2021. Fast fashion is still convenient, varied, fashionable, reliable, and reliably cheap. However, new technologies have been opening doors for the efficiency, convenience, and reliability of secondhand and sharing clothing. In 2020 Depop’s profits doubled from $70 to $650 million dollars.
In the world of sustainable fashion, young people are truly inspiring and leading the way, Depop proudly announcing over 70% of its users to be under 26. And new and exciting secondhand and sustainable fashion startups are popping up everywhere. Despite the fashion industry having some of the worst impacts on equality and the climate/environmental crises, it is also filled with inspirational news on sustainable fashion alternatives. As long as we keep pushing and fighting in the right direction, a utopic life of both abundance and environmental and social wellbeing can be sown and stitched together.
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Gecseg, O. (2020). What is fast fashion and why is it so popular? The Sustainable Fashion Collective. Available from: https://www.the-sustainable-fashion-collective.com/2020/01/20/why-is-fast-fashion-still-popular-and-what-is-it-costing-our-planet [Accessed 11/03/2022]
Hamilton, A. (2021). This New Sustainable Fashion Trend is Way More Fun Than Minimalism. Eco club. Available from:https://ecoclubofficial.com/this-new-sustainable-fashion-trend-is-way-more-fun-than-minimalism/ [Accessed 11/03/2022]
Henninger, C. Brydges, T. Iran, S. Vladimirova, K. (2021). Collaborative fashion consumption - A synthesis and future research agenda. Cleaner Production, 319. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095965262102850X [Accessed 10/03/2022]
Iran, S. (2018). Collaborative Fashion Consumption: A viable innovative concept for sustainable fashion consumption? Berlin. Available from: https://depositonce.tu-berlin.de/bitstream/11303/8366/4/iran_samira.pdf [Accessed 11/03/2022]
McKinsey & Company. (2020). Is luxury resale the future of fashion? Available from: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/is-luxury-resale-the-future-of-fashion [Accessed 11/03/2022]
Mojeh, 2021. Why designers are turning to maximalism in the post-pandemic world? Available from: https://mojeh.com/fashion/why-designers-are-turning-to-maximalism-post-pandemic-fashion/ [Accessed 11/03/2022]
Statista. (2022). Revenue of Boohoo.com Plc. group in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2012/13 to 2020/21. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/794891/boohoo-plc-group-revenue-united-kingdom-uk/ [Accessed 11/03/2022]