Choosing better may be the easiest yet the most underrated option to become a conscious fashion consumer
By Garima Garg
As one can gather from the title itself, that I have chosen to adopt the discipline of fashioning a rather conscious approach towards fashion. I do understand it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Perhaps, some may not even want to dive into the experience at all.
More often than not almost, all of us have personally come across people in our lives snapping at the subject. Even though the grave conditions of garment workers have come to light, the question is: how we can change this scenario? Should we stop shopping altogether?
Not shopping is not the solution. It does not help the garment workers who work hard to make a t-shirt and not receiving the reward. The answers are not in discarding the existing systems, it is about choosing better.
The Truth about Fast Fashion
More than half of the world’s fast fashion does not result in a heavy income for garment workers making these goods. Mass-produced goods ensure a heavy revenue model for the brand with goods moving out quickly. Consumers get a high sense of fashion as they succumb to the latest trends. What goes behind the scenes is in stark contrast to the attractive pieces available to clothing racks.
Fast Fashion is rewarding because of the low prices, quick production span, and an immediate change to the line of clothing offered in the same season.
Now how are the clothes with such an apprentice to the new trends absolutely low in cost? Mass production also requires mass labour. One main factor contributing to the rise and shine of these brands lies in their cheap tactic of not paying their dues to the labour who toil day and night to produce garments.
This makes me think if cheap and unethical labour is used to make the pieces we wear, are we truly making the right choice?
The Environmental Atrocities
If you think the ill effects of fast fashion might be limited to human labour, you are sadly mistaken just like I was. More than half of the world’s leading fashion industry continue to use animal skin to produce the leather of their choice. Some animals are even skinned alive in excruciating pain. It’s widely known that man indeed is the most dangerous animal of them all. Engaging in activities that harm other beings just to look good seems to prove that point.
Moreover, the fashion industry is a major contributor to the world’s chemical output waste. This then leads its way into various water bodies which damage the surface of the earth and the land nearby. It also harms the water bodies and the aquatic life living in. Many species today are extinct for the same reason.
A better approach, a better understanding
As a young progressive mind, I believe in the power of individual actions. If each one of us decides to shift our attitudes at the grass-root level, several garment workers could rise out of the grim conditions they are in currently.
Fast fashion is not the answer. It never was. The only reason fast-fashion brands were able to bring a cheap and new range of clothing every two weeks on their racks was because of high production speed. This was done through mass production by mass labourers who are not paid well. Many, if not all, fast fashion brands have payments pending in their name that are to be paid to the workers sitting in third-world countries.
The fashion industry has shifted to using social media to promote their engagements in the marketing world and insights into how they intend on providing better quality, long-lasting products. Several small brands and local businesses have started taking over Instagram to engage their target audience and give them a better virtual tour of their company. So many buyers today, that I personally know of have resorted to shopping via Instagram brands. It is efficient, the service is usually up to the mark, and allows for one-to-one interaction with the brand itself. The transparency in the transaction promotes sustainable fashion. It is definitely a better approach to bending down to several malpractices of fast fashion brands.
Thrift away your ways
Another major initiative carried out and practised by keen fashion enthusiasts is the idea of marketing goods through thrift shops. Thrift shops basically function on selling second-hand clothes or other functional goods, which in turn leads to reducing the environmental impact of a piece of garment. These pieces do not get discarded or wasted, avoiding getting destroyed or dumped, and end up being consumed by the customer to its full use.
These shops often operate at local exhibitions, charity events or social media. Most of these thrift shop owners have their own Instagram page and with high engagement. Eager consumers wait for the latest drops to get their hands on one-of-a-kind goods.
Sustainable businesses allow one-to-one interaction between the buyer and seller, whilst the comfort of their home. One can also come across a huge variety of products not easily available under multinational corporations. I have largely resorted to this method of shopping today as a part of my free time, and urgent shopping needs. Not only do they provide better but even a wider variety to engage their deeper position in the economic competitive cycle.
It is an important notion today to note to not compromise on our needs, but our wants. Shopping consciously serves the purpose of looking after the environment that one day will be home to future generations. We must repeat when we can, reuse our belongings- which is not only fashionable but also innovative, and always try to opt for a sustainable choice.
Garima recently graduated from NIFT, Hyderabad with a bachelor degree in Fashion & Lifestyle Accessory Design. She has interned with several jewellery brands and enjoys intricate art and history. Garima is a passionate writer discussing various world occurrences through her pieces.