Loving the clothes in your closet: a radical act of individual activism?
Despite the social outcry for transparency in fast-fashion, the industry is still booming, with an estimated growth of $30.58 billion in 2021. The fast-fashion model depends on cheap, and harmful to the environment materials, and cheap labour. The current international framework for garment workers’ protection is weak, allowing for large corporations such as Inditex and H&M Groups to outsource their labour practices, while the workers predominantly affected by the human rights violations are women. The environmental impacts of climate change include the massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions that take to manufacture and distribute clothes and the intensive water usage that it takes to create a single pair of jeans.
Alternative, sustainable grands are not always accessible to everyone - with fast-fashion brands providing the most affordable clothing. One can still recognise the ways that the fast-fashion model is harmful, and nonetheless buy from fast-fashion brands, because they are the most affordable alternative out there. This does not exclude your ability to hold them accountable, nor does it mean that one cannot engage in other sustainable practices that prolong your clothes’ life. For example, swapping clothes with friends, selling (& buying secondhand) clothes on depop and vinted, or even tweet/message/email fast-fashion brands to demand transparency. This is a way of discouraging the overconsumption of clothes, and learning how to love the clothes that are already in our closets.
I think that reducing my consumption from fast-fashion brands has been the most indicative way of the radical change needed to switch to a sustainable lifestyle. This is because our clothes are such an essential part of our everyday life, but have also become a form of expression for many. More sustainable alternatives are buying second hand clothes and products, which has been calculated to have saved 20,7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 (Schibsted and Adevinta).
PS: If you ever happen to be in Amsterdam, I cannot recommend Fashion for Good Museum enough! I visited the museum on Sunday, and I was left amazed. The interactive experience is not only very well (and sustainably) designed, but it is also very informative for anybody seeking to learn more about the impacts of fast-fashion and its alternatives. Their website is a great resource and accessible to everyone interested if you do not happen to be in or travel to Amsterdam.
PS no2: Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s resource update: maintaining the #SecondHandSeptember trend after September in our resources section.