‘If we all stopped shopping for clothes & shoes and accessories and stuff, then people would be out of jobs and shops would close and the manufacturers would go bust and then the makers would have no money, so we can’t just stop.’ This is a common comment I have when discussing sustainable and ethical fashion. My answer up until recently, has been that we have to slow it down for the benefit of the planet or we will be drowning in stuff (if we are not already) and we have to find alternatives.
Then on the weekend this same scenario was raised at the Fashion Revolution discussion hosted by Cate Gilpin of Brown’s General Store, with her other panelists: Naomi Hunstman (@thesewloist), Leah Musch (@unmaterialgirl) and Jessica Abraham (@tasitravels). A few alternative ideas of what the future of fashion may look like were openly imagined with the audience.
With these ideas in mind I listened to Clare Press’ podcast interview with Richard Denniss, of Curing Affluenza fame. His comments were enlightening…to paraphrase him ‘Yes shops will close, businesses will close but others will grow in their stead. Consumers create new economies, by where they choose to spend their money. It takes time but it happens. He gave examples like the cafe culture in Australia which wasn’t around 30 years ago, smart phones were uncommon 20 years ago…where we spend our money, that industry will grow and jobs will shift with them.’ ‘If we stopped buying stuff and bought experiences, the economy won’t change but the industries will.’
So here I share some of those potential futures raised as well as some of my own which align with my philosophy of helping women take that step towards a stylish sustainable closet. I wonder which future the current consumer will choose? Which do you choose?
We work out a budget to spend on our clothes for the year. Then we choose one new sustainable and ethical outfit that fits that budget and buy it. No more outfit purchases for the year. Next year we do the same thing, so now we have two outfits to play in – one new and one kinda new. Then the next year… We build a closet filled with long-lasting sustainable and ethical, stylish clothes. Kind of like how our Grandmothers clothed themselves fashionably.
This scenario is creating businesses right now for example Wardrobe.NYC provides a curated luxury capsule wardrobe where you choose a package of 4 items or 8 items for one upfront price. But you don’t need to go to the one shop, just know your annual spend and keep to that whilst buying ethical, beautifully made items.
No new clothes are manufactured. No new fabrics from raw materials are created. We use all the clothing that exists now to create new fashioned clothing. This has been happening for ever, but we stopped doing it. Until recently. Refreshingly there is a tribe out there like me, reviving this concept. Jane Milburn of Textile Beat has just released a book about this.
- Deconstructing old clothes and using the raw materials to make ‘new’ clothes.
- Refashioning old clothes by shortening sleeves, changing the hemline, adding other parts from other clothes.
- Mending clothes visibly to show off handiwork and skill.
- Shredding fabric to create new fabric.
- Unravelling knitwear to reknit new items.
We don’t own our clothes. We hire them. If you only have a few functions to go to per year, why spend a lot of money on one dress that will sit in your wardrobe and waste closet space. Or if you do make a major purchase then you can hire it out on some of these sites. It’s not my thing now but it makes sense and I can see the reasoning makes this compelling. Have a look at some of these sights and you may consider this as a serious option.
- The Volte – “Making aspirational fashion accessible”: Zimmermann, Thurley etc…
- Your Closet – “Own the moment, Rent the dress”: Alex Perry, Camilla & Marc etc…
- Glam Corner – ‘Endless Collection for your wardrobe’ : Alice McCall, Badgley Mischka etc…
- Her Wardrobe – “Forward Thinking Fashion”: Yeojin Bae, Aurelio Costarella etc..
- Moda Society – “Sharing Economy’ : Best for luxury brand handbags like Gucci, Louis Vuitton etc..
In most cases these sites also offer purchases of the preloved items at reasonable pricing, so worth having a look if you are looking to purchase a luxury brand.
We buy preloved clothing, enjoy them for a season or more then we swap them when we want an update. Pre-loved becomes de rigueur and buying new becomes alien to us.
- Swop – is a store here in Brisbane offering such a service
- The Clothing Exchange – look out for a swap event.
- Encore la Chance – a store in Paddington, (QLD) to buy preloved and sell your own on consignment.
- Suited to Success – store in Fortitude Valley (QLD) has some amazing preloved clothes on offer or attend their annual event held around October.
- Every charity shop etc –
Of course all these futures can be combined to create a fabulous sustainable fashion future, that means we dress well, support makers ethically and save the planet and our cash for other things that don’t end in landfill.
Its been a long blog post but I wanted to share my visions of what is possible, particularly after Fashion Revolution week so thanks for reading this far. Enjoy your week.