GUEST WRITTEN BY BECCA COUGHLAN AND JENNY NICOLAS
The way that our society approaches clothing has changed drastically over the last 20-30 years. The days of the local shoemaker, dressmaker, milliner, and ‘Sunday Best’ have long been replaced by the buy-and-discard culture that came along with the phenomenon known as fast fashion, and the industry is now the second-most polluting in the world, after oil.
"Fast fashion" refers to the ever-increasing speed at which designs move from the catwalk to the high street. Whilst some might rejoice at what seems to be the ‘democratisation’ of fashion, because the average consumer has gained the ability to access once-unattainable high-end trends and ‘get the look, for less’, the price we pay for this new system goes far beyond what is written on the price-tag.
The true cost of these low quality garments lies in the social and environmental degradation they are fuelling, from their inception to their disposal. The mass manufacturing of commercial clothing requires an enormous amount of energy, produces both toxic chemical and textile waste, and, more often than not, ignores international labour and fair-wage standards. Because of the acceleration of the fashion cycle, clothes are being discarded after only one or two seasons, ending up in landfill, where they will likely remain for the rest of time, due their inability to degrade.
While this is all quite demoralizing, there are many things that we as consumers can do to combat fast fashion, none of which necessarily require any drastic lifestyle changes – even for the most severe shopping addicts among us.
We present to you Sarah Lazarovic’s ‘Buyerarchy’ of Needs:
© Sarah Lazarovic
This 'buyerarchy of needs' is not intended as a strict set of rules that one must follow in order to become a sustainable and ethical fashionista, but rather as a tool to help us become more conscious as consumers. By simply asking yourself if you will wear an item at least thirty times before you buy it, you will save yourself the age-old problem of having a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear. By simply ‘shopping’ our own closets, those of our friends, and from thrift or consignment stores before we look to the high street, we can save millions of tonnes of clothes from going to landfill each year, which thus lessens the substantial environmental impact of each item, all the while still getting ‘the look, for less’!
If you had not already guessed, we are very passionate about sustainable and ethical fashion, and we are thus very excited to be hosting the upcoming clothing swap in collaboration with Athena Collectiv. You can find out more about this on our Facebook event or on meetup.com.
In the meantime, if you are interested in discovering more about the complex and diverse topic of sustainable and ethical fashion, head on over to Edinburgh-based blogger Ruth MacGilp’s website, where you will find her recently launched, comprehensive, and easy-to-digest resource on the subject! Additionally, we are hosting a screening of the film The True Cost, an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes, look at the fashion industry, at the Grassmarket Centre at 7.30pm on Monday 28 August, so come on down!
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