I’ve had this thought in my mind for a while now but I’ve never really known how to make the little seed in my mind into something helpful and useful for the rest of you but after a recent conversation with the wonderful and talented Lauren McCrostie, I finally realised my thought’s potential and it all starts with four very simple words – we all wear clothes.
FEATURED: Floral Trousers (ASOS Africa) // All others (Second-hand/Vintage)
The reason for highlighting this simple phrase and statement is because I believe it is one idea that we can all understand and learn from especially when it comes to ethical education and conscious consumerism. There are a lot of terminologies thrown around when it comes to the issue of fast-fashion and ethics, so much so that the ethical platform, Project JUST, has a full page dedicated to slang terms you might not know the definition of.
In fact, it starts just there, with the phrase ‘fast-fashion’. It’s the most commonly used term when it comes to trying to explain why the shops we find on the high-street aren’t all as pretty as they seem and why the earth is being damaged by an industry which is supposed to be full of glamour and beauty. Although the term is relatively easy to understand – it’s the system in which provides fast and cheap fashion, producing large amounts of stock and creating large amounts of profit – if you were to use the phrase in everyday conversation, understandably, not everyone will understand you straight off the bat.
As someone who is expanding their knowledge of ethics and sustainability daily, I can admit that life was a lot easier to take for granted before it all started to click for me. Although I was aware of certain issues like waste and global warming, I now take it into consideration in my daily life, even if it’s in a context which isn’t remotely related to fashion or my clothes. It’s just within me now, to try and do better.
But with these phrases and words and all of the nitty gritty information, can we get just about anybody to understand the negative impacts of what we wear, by only focusing on ‘fast-fashion’ and ‘the industry’? And no, I’m not going back on what I said in my piece about second-hand shopping – the industry is important to understand but perhaps it’s not vital when trying to get people to start questioning their choices.
A great way to explain this more simply is looking at our food. Just like the statement ‘we all wear clothes’, the majority of us fortunate to be even having this discussion, are all able to say ‘we all eat food’. The food industry is often used as a way to explain what we mean by ‘transparency’, as, in recent years, it has become a lot more open to sharing where produce comes from, leading consumers to become more aware of what they’re actually consuming. It’s all essential to our lives and we all care in some respect or another because every day we aim to eat three healthy meals.
So, why don’t we all care about where our clothes come from if we’re putting them on our bodies just as frequently? Even beauty and make-up can inspire us – we care about what we put on our skin with what chemicals are being used or whether an animal has been used to test a product prior to being sold.
This is a reason why Fashion Revolution’s #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign should be so easy to get people behind. The term ‘clothes’ strips things down to the basics of what we all wear. Asking where our clothes come from is a lot easier to do than asking why H&M is producing 52 micro-collections a year; that’s fashion (fast-fashion, specfically). If we start to separate the two terms, clothes and fashion into two separate entities, then we’re more likely to get just about anybody on board in some shape or form.
Returning to food, there are a lot of questions we can adapt to our clothes. Questions like – What are you eating? How do you store your food? What do you do with old food? – can all be changed to revolve around clothing and get people thinking in that same way about something which is essentially, affecting us all in the same way. As a whole, we try to eat healthy food and we store it in the fridge or in a cool dry place. We recycle food and put scraps on the compost. If the fashion industry is supposedly the 2nd most polluting industry on the planet, why are we not all taking on this same mindset? It’s seems simple, really.
For those of you who are already starting to become more conscious consumers or are wondering how to go about spreading the message, here are some questions which can get people thinking in very simple terms:
~ QUESTIONS ~
➯ What are you wearing?
➯ What do you wear on a day-to-day basis?
➯ Where did you buy them?
➯ What do the labels say? Do you know what they mean?
➯ Where were your clothes made?
➯ Would you like to know where?
➯ Do you know who made them?
➯ How do you look after your clothes?
➯ What do you do with old clothes?
Don’t stop there though, if you’re interested in learning even more or want to start asking some more in-depth questions, then make sure to take a look at my educational resources from the past year. They should be helpful for you, your friends and family and anyone else you want to pass on knowledge too. Oh and don’t forget, ethical fashion shouldn’t make you feel bad, either.
How do you think we can get people on board with ethical fashion? Let me know in the comments!
Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx