I realised a few days ago that a pair of my jeans had a hole on the inside of the right thigh. That doesn’t sound very remarkable, but for me it was a proud moment.
Watching TV recently, I saw an advert for the fast fashion brand Missguided. The ad’s strapline was, ‘You’ve got plans – we’ve got outfits’. Now that we have got plans, with lockdown fading away, we must have new outfits to go with those social gatherings. The outfits that have been hanging untouched in your wardrobe for the past year and a bit? No, they won’t do: it has to be a new outfit!
Consumer culture thrives on novelty. According to sustainable economics Professor Tim Jackson, ‘Novelty matters to us. Through novelty, for instance, we tell each other stories about how important we are. Status is just one of the social dynamics that thrives on novelty. Novelty also signals progress. It offers hope. A brighter shinier world for
our children and their children’ (1). Status and hope is a powerful combination, and it’s one that’s certainly motivated me to buy many a new outfit, even when I had a wardrobe bursting with clothes at home.
The quest for novelty is what’s caused many of us to wear our clothes for a shorter length of time before discarding them: The time between clothing purchase and disposal of clothing has decreased by 36% since 2000 (2). It’s understandable that people seek novelty, especially when cheap clothes are so easily available, and when social media gives us so many ‘outfits of the day’ to aspire to. However, the disposability of fashion is the root cause of its huge environmental and social impacts.
I’m proud I’ve worn a hold into my jeans. I bought them around 8 years ago in Reiss – and they’re one of the very few items I’ll be throwing out because they’re worn out, not just because I got bored.
(1) Jackson, T. (2016) ‘Beyond Consumer Capitalism’. Available at: https://www.cusp.ac.uk/themes/aetw/wp2/
(2) Rathinamoorthy, R. (2019) “Circular fashion.” In Circular Economy in Textiles and Apparel. Elsevier. pp. 13–48. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-102630-4.00002-9.
#sustainablefashion #sustainability #30wears