The Fast Fashion Struggle Is Real
I am woman, hear me roar! Well, perhaps. But often it feels a little more like; I am woman, hear me stand in front of a bursting wardrobe complaining that I have simply nothing to wear. Not to be disparaging about us women folk, but for a lot of us, if we are very honest, there is a fairly messy link between needs, wants and actual ownership when it comes to the contents of our wardrobes.
I am also the proud owner of a seemingly never-ending shape-shifting body, so I estimate a good 40% of my wardrobe is populated by clothes that lie in the category of “it will fit again”. And don’t those items make us feel just wonderful about ourselves? Ehh. No.
I don’t count myself in the hobby-shopper category; as a new business owner, I haven’t actually been able to afford new clothes until very recently. So you might say that my shopping behaviour is dictated by my means. If I had more to spend, I very likely would.
Examining My Values
I, like so many of us, have had a solid 15 weeks of contemplation during lockdown. What’s important to me? What do I want to see more of in the new normal? What businesses do I want to support most? Watching businesses around me closing their doors, furlough staff and evidently suffering, I firmly decided that I wanted to shop local and support small, just like the hashtags had been telling us to. My own business came under threat, and I was in a very real state of existential panic, I knew that if there was anything I could do to help those around me, I was on board.
So, and I don’t think I’m alone here, I felt a wave of disappointment when I saw the floods of people queuing outside Penney’s the morning it opened. I had naively thought we all wanted something a bit more meaningful when we eventually got out of our gaffs, but I guess not. The draw of frivolous spending on meaningless items of plastic-filled garments is more important.
I cannot judge
But, I literally can’t judge. My wardrobe is jammed with PrettyLittleThing, BooHoo, ASOS and Atmosphere too. How do I know? Because the tags are still on. The items are completely unworn. I have supported the fast fashion industry in the worst way; I haven’t even used some of the items I’ve bought. And we eye roll, laugh and say “what am I like?!”, but it’s simply not good enough. I can’t look “over there” at fast fashion, at sweatshops, at landfill, at emissions and say that I’m not part of it. Because I am. And if you’ve read this far…you might be realising that you are too.
Brace yourself for the fast fashion stats…
- The number of unworn clothes in UK wardrobes would stretch from London to New York 2.5 times.
Read that again. Yes. Shocking.
- The average person consumes 26.7kg of new clothing per year.
That’s about the size of a large suitcase; is it any wonder we struggle to pack a bag for holidays?!
- We only actively wear about 20% of our clothes.
Guilty as charged
- We are buying 400% more clothes than we did 20 years ago.
And guess what, it doesn’t last half as long because the quality is muck.
- 235m items of clothing were sent to landfill last year.
Lads. We are wearing our trash.
- Global textile production produces 1.2bn tonnes of carbon emissions a year.
Ehh, this is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined, by the way.
- 700,000 fibres are released in a single domestic wash.
That’s plastic, elastine, polyester etc. and these end up in our water system and food chain.
Creating a Capsule Wardrobe
But there is something I can do. I can use my own teeny, tiny platform; my own limited sphere of influence to hopefully ask people to think differently. I was invited by the fabulous Sinead Brassil on LMFM Radio to join Maria Macklin’s Capsule Wardrobe Challenge for the month of July.
20 pieces of clothing, 3 pairs of shoes, and a whole bucket load of creativity! I spent hours yesterday and have somehow managed to whittle down my wardrobe to an essential 20 pieces (that includes jackets BTW!). Check out the video below.
I love a challenge, and if I’m honest, I probably don’t wear more than 20 items in a month anyway! While this feels daunting, I think it may actually more doable than we might first think.
If you are interested in taking on the challenge, there is still time! You will be in great company and we can support each other through it. If you need some more motivation, check out some of the below links for podcast’s of the LMFM show with Maria, or the short movie Textile Mountain.
If you’re not really into it yourself, you can tune into my social media for the month of July as I will be sharing my journey, challenges and wins.
Tamara is the self-proclaimed Unqualified Blogger. She is a Marketing Communications / Brand Consultant and Creative Generalist. She is available for speech writing, tattoo conventions and karaoke parties or would love to work with you on your latest marketing or creative challenges. Stay in touch on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitteror Contact her directly.