My dear fashionistas, used-to-be’s and wanna-be’s, please kindly sit your trendily clad self down, get a cup of tea, read this article from top to bottom, and have a good think. A really good think.
I seldom find an article on fashion that I wholly agree with. But this one? This one made me slap at my thighs in agreement and nod my head at every paragraph, until the poor thing that houses my (minimal) brain snapped right off my neck and hit my toes rolling.
This is fast fashion. We’re buying more clothes than ever before, and prices are falling. Each year, Australian women buy, on average, 56 garments, while the average bloke buys 29. If you’re under 30, you’d typically buy double that number, according to the Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA).
… but cheap fashion is extracting a hefty price.
The human cost, for one, is enormous. Just last week London’s budget clothing giant, Primark, dumped three suppliers in southern India after a BBC documentary revealed they were sub-contracting work to child labourers.
Sweatshop workers in many Asian countries endure long hours, poor working conditions and low wages, sometimes as little as 18 cents an hour. [Like this story here.]
“I think people really need to start thinking twice before they go out and buy a $5 T-shirt that they may only plan to wear a couple of times, then throw away, because of the environmental impact it has,” says Jeannie Zakharov, a spokeswoman for the brotherhood.
While many shops donate surplus stock and samples to charity, several industry insiders, who did not wish to be named, believe much of our unwanted clothing is still being dumped.
Jo Kellock, executive director of TFIA, also believes much in the industry must change. “In an environment where we are being asked to consume less – less petrol, less energy, less water … less of everything – this whole culture or cycle of wanting more fashion faster just doesn’t seem to fit,” she says.
One of my pet peeves is this: one day a cousin said to me “I bought that dress for five bucks. Can you believe it? FIVE FRIGGIN’ DOLLARS! I know I’ll probably never wear it, it’s not my style, kinda tacky actually. But at that price it’d be crazy not to have it. Even if it’s just to stay at the back of my closet.” Oh and you wouldn’t know how I had to bite my tongue until the end frayed and all my taste-buds were in tatters, despite being so annoyed I wish I had been able to yank at her hair to make her realise how much of a waste that was.
Having said that, I can’t say I don’t own way too many clothes myself. Or that I haven’t succumbed, more than once (!), to the thrill of snatching gorgeous things on sale. There’s that trendy dress for $20 after a whopping 75% off– the one that I wore twice, and have had collecting dust in the wardrobe for the last 12 months. Or those stunning shoes which were one-off samples, hence outrageously discounted, that happened to be (almost) my size — the ones that give my toes blisters every time I as much as go within a metre of them. I plead guilty, Your Honour, unforgivably guilty.
Although I take solace in the fact that I’ve never committed that cardinal sin of binge-shopping. Of buying things only to get sick of them after a week. Oh the shame! On the contrary, I like everything I have, I wear them, I hold on to them, I love them to death. I truly madly deeply do. (I will be strong I will be faithful ‘cos I’m counting on a new begiiinning. A reason for liiiving. A deeper meeeaneh-ing…) To the point that I never want to part with them. I just don’t have enough bodies to wear them all the time. And those stingy scientists wouldn’t let me clone myself, pppttt! You see my problem? Hence my ever bulging, ever bursting-at-the-seam wardrobe. A hoarder to the core, aren’t I?
And so from that hypocritical viewpoint, I would sit here and wonder what happened to the days when people saved up for months for a piece of clothing? One that was made by a local tailor with care and passion, one that would be worn and admired and treasured, then passed on to relatives and eventually to charities.
But I’m trying to break my wasteful habit. By steering right clear of DFO and mid-year clearance sales. By digging out my old clothes and renaming them “vintage” and wearing them with pride. Coz vintage is the new black, you see, especially better without the musty or moth-ball smell of old fabric. I’ll try and behave through my good behaviour bond and beyond, Your Honour. You gotta trust in me!