Taking it slow
Fast fashion has dominated the market for nearly two decades. It's a model that relies on overproduction, overconsumption, impulse buys and planned obsolescence. We buy 60% more clothes and keep them for half as long as compared to only 15 years ago. Between 2000 - 2014 the rate of clothing production doubled and the fashion industry now produces over 150 billion items of new clothing every year. That's enough for 20 items of new clothing for every single person on the planet. Unfortunately, many of those new items end up in landfill or as unsold inventory.
Funnily enough, having access to all this choice doesn't make it any easier to get dressed in the morning. Have you ever stood in front of a wardrobe full of clothes feeling like you've got nothing to wear? If so, you're not alone. Most of us only wear a small percentage of the clothes we own and its estimated that in the UK there's more than 3.6 billion items of clothing that never get worn at all. Despite this, we keep on buying. Low prices make it possible for us to buy clothes on a whim and discard them after only a few wears (or no wears at all) and the buzz of a getting a bargain keeps us coming back for more.
The result? Wardrobes overflowing with more clothes than we know what to do with, landfills overflowing with clothes that won't biodegrade, and clothing being produced at a rate that's too fast for us to handle, like the $4.3 billion worth of clothes that H&M couldn't shift at the beginning of this year. The fashion industry has a huge environmental impact and the social costs can be high for people all along the supply chain. So what can we do?
Our latest challenge is to slow things down and take a more mindful approach to buying clothes. In this age of fast fashion, pausing to think before we buy is a small but powerful act of rebellion against an industry that both encourages and relies upon mindless impulse purchases. This is not about taking the joy out of shopping - if anything, slowing things down will help you find clothes that you actually love, ones that you'll wear again and again, instead of those items that don't quite fit properly or don't go with anything else you own - those items you bought because you were just bored, or tired, or stressed - and are destined to end up languishing in the nether-regions of your wardrobe along with those old t-shirts from those slightly awkward team-building exercises of yesteryear.
You can take a more mindful approach to buying clothes by asking yourself these questions before you take the plunge and make your next purchase. Slowing things down when it comes to our clothes is better for the planet (less resources used, fewer clothes sent to landfill), better for our wardrobes (no more hastily-bought purchases clogging up the shelves) and better for our wallets (always a win). Think before you buy. You won't regret it.