Like a lot of people who watched Stacey Dooley’s documentary on the BBC last week regarding ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ I haven’t been able to get those images and facts out of my head. It has evoked feelings such as shock, guilt, shame, disgust. As a self-confessed fashion lover and prolific consumer I have been mulling it all over.
The programme claimed that the garment industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Shocked? Yeah, me too. I was highly aware of packaging being an issue to the environment but in addition to this is the sheer amount of cotton being produced in the world (43% of all clothing sold). Cotton farming requires an extortionate amount of water (causing shortages), as well as use of chemicals and pesticides. This is having a devastating impact to our planet.
“Globally, we’re producing over 100 billion new garments from new fibres every single year, and the planet cannot sustain that,” states Lucy Seigle, a journalist specialising in environmental issues.
Whilst Stacey’s programme focused mostly on the retailers practices of producing clothing (nearly all of whom declined to take part in her interviews) she also spoke to fashion influencers and the role they play in promoting fast-fashion to their audiences. Because without the demand wouldn’t be the necessity for shops to manufacture clothing on such a large scale.
Personally, I don’t outwardly claim to be a fashion influencer. However, I do commonly share my outfits on Instagram and regularly cover style here on my blog — so I guess I am playing a part in encouraging other people to shop.
I also partake in fast-fashion myself; buying a new t-shirt or jumper does give me a little buzz and makes me feel good about myself. Because garments are so cheap on our UK high street this means I can have more and more clothing and why I continue to keep buying.
However, ethically, this now all sits rather uncomfortably for me.
So what am I going to do both personally and professionally?
Firstly, when the latest trend comes out, instead of dashing out to buy new I’ll look through my wardrobe to see what already exists in order to re-use it. Because, no shock, there’s a lot of good stuff in there. For example, for the current trend of leopard, I already own several pieces from the last few years and all are still in great condition. It’s simply about re-working what I already own.
In addition, I’ll stop teasing my Husband for shopping in charity shops (he’s a few eco steps ahead of me here) but join him too. Actually, in the past when I have browsed them I have made some amazing discoveries. Yes it’s a little more time consuming than going online to ASOS and buying four dresses and three pairs of jeans, but I am going to make more of an effort to peruse them. I’ll also look at websites such as eBay, Depop, Vestiaire etc where people actively sell their pre-loved clothes and accessories.
I am also aiming to look at purchasing from eco-friendly shops and brands that are active in sustainable fashion. I’m looking into this currently and am going to start sharing more of this going forward with my followers. This is one area I have very little knowledge in; I’d like to change that.
Finally, from a social media aspect, although I will continue to post my outfits online I am going to change my approach. The aim is to stop pushing so much fast-fashion and reduce promoting NEW NEW NEW. Instead I’ll show more of ‘how’ I style my clothes rather the emphasis always being on where they are from.
I’ve seen a few key influencers taking this stance already and it’s been refreshing and exciting to see. I’m hoping many others will follow their lead.
Stacey said on an Instagram post promoting her documentary “Fast fashion is one of the worlds worst polluters. Btw, we not saying don’t treat yourself to clothes that make you feel fancy, we sayin’ don’t buy a cheap, shitty tee that you don’t even really love…wear it once and then throw away’.
This is it really, isn’t it? We’re not all going to suddenly stop shopping or liking clothes, but ultimately we have to think about our choices more; i.e. don’t buy an item to wear once/twice and then leave it hanging in your wardrobe, to then repeat this process every week.
Like a lot of women I do want to be trendy, stylish and will continue to love clothes (the passion is definitely still there) but from now on I won’t be procuring garments or accessories that I simply don’t NEED. That’s wasteful and harmful.
The word that I’m taking away from all of this is ‘conscious’. I’m going to keep this in the forefront of my mind with every purchasing decision and online fashion share I make going forward.
Love, Jess x