Can Fashion ever be truly conscious and sustainable ? Bear with me here, I'm not asking if clothing can be conscious and sustainable , but Fashion itself . Is it ok to enjoy clothes ? Can I admire the beauty of designs and fabrics when there is no practical need for them ?
If I were to make a list of clothing I need, it would look very different to the list of clothing I own.
On a day to day basis I'm home educating my daughter , we spend time between home, forest schools, a farm group, the library... I don't drive so we walk everywhere. None of these places call for the red suede boots sitting in my bedroom or the black lace midi skirt hanging in the back of my wardrobe. That's not to say I don't ever have the opportunity for wearing nicer ( read - non practical ) garments , but my current needs list would probably be more likely to contain walking boots and waterproof coats than fashion items !
So the main reason I have ten times this (and most items are ten times less practical too ) in my wardrobe , is fashion. The impact of social media is huge, we see someone on Instagram wearing a gorgeous dress and can order it straight away. Its so easy to order online now, when stylish instagrammers tag their clothing you can click across and have it in your basket in minutes. Its not fast fashion , we don't see the exchange of money . The prices of fast fashion items can be so cheap that we don't feel any guilt at the purchase . The goods turn up often beautifully gift boxed (I know its not just me that loves that happy post) . Its a quick fix, often my buying habits are linked directly to my moods, if I'm feeling down some online browsing is sure to cheer me up.
I've never been a high end shopper so its not so much as having to have 'this seasons' item, I have never had a problem with wearing something I bought ten years ago or second hand. The biggest factor in my love of fashion and clothes is my creativity and instinct for aesthetically pleasing things. I like to think that my love of aesthetics is down to my artistic background, as an art student I used to have a sketch book filled with cut outs of Kate moss and Sienna Miller interspersed with my own sketches. I was drawn to fabrics and textures ( and still am !) Like so many people I use my style to express myself, I enjoy putting outfits together and it makes me feel better about myself. On days when I make more effort I feel good, I feel confident. Can this ever sit comfortably with being a conscious buyer?
Its easy, even when buying second hand to fall for the same trap, maybe even more so when prices are so low! So its important to still think when you buy, hold the item for a while, think what you would wear it with, how often you might wear it and importantly if possible TRY IT ON! I went through a stage of buying in charity shops and not trying on, just grabbing an item off the railing only to get it home and find it didn't fit or looked appalling. This can of course be applied to shopping new too, buy something that will last, a timeless well made item that you will wear again and again.
Being a conscious shopper will have a huge impact on shopping habits, its a small way to make bigger changes. I've found that I'm already questioning and becoming more mindful in other areas than clothing as a natural consequence. Selfishly my initial foray in to this area was driven by my own need to save money, so the ethical side is very much a learning experience to me, however one that I'm becoming more an more aware of . The thought process instantly grows when you start asking questions about what you are buying, who made this ? How is it so cheap ? What is it made from? .
Once again I am without most of the answers, perhaps I can satisfy my need for creativity by making or upcycling my garments, or through clothes swaps to satisfy the need for something new and exciting in my wardrobe. I'm hopeful that I will find more answers as the year goes on , there are a multitude of articles which I have bookmarked to read on the subject, its actually mildly overwhelming !
Apologies for this maybe seeming like a random blurting of thoughts (it pretty much is ) .