Updated: Apr 6
Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, one thing is certain; it's a wake-up call to start respecting mother nature. The hustle-bustle of every city has come to a standstill but on the brighter side, the sky is blue, animals are coming back to their natural habitat, with less air space traffic carbon emissions are reducing, and everyone is adopting slow living that is allowing the environment time to heal and take over.
Once we get back to our daily life, we must ask - what does a fashion consumer look like post-covid-19? As a responsible citizen, you all can make a contribution in a small yet impactful manner; fashion sustainability that includes reusing, reducing and recycling your clothes. The way forward now is all about sustainable fashion, fewer pieces that are versatile and that will last you longer. With a money crunch, it's essential to know where to put your money while making the best use of your already existing wardrobe.
Bandana Tewari quoted in Business Of Fashion "Sustainability will now be an act of conscious living, whereby we acknowledge that 'more and more,' 'faster, not fewer' and 'bigger is better' will not sustain us anymore." She perfectly summed up what the future of fashion would be and it's time we accept this fact.
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As fast fashion consumers, we’re quick to pick up things that catch our eye and equally fast in discarding them. While this vicious cycle may help one look fashion-forward, have you ever stopped to wonder how it’s impacting our planet? The quantity of clothes that end up in the landfills is alarming. Not only are the clothes going to waste but also water, electricity and all the other resources used to create those garments, and it’s high time one takes action. During the time of COVID 19, it's time to embrace the idea of reuse, reduce and recycle. While sustainable fashion is a highly debated and covered topic in the media, what is sustainable fashion? Sustainable fashion can be defined as a movement fostering a change in the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice, to give back to the mother earth what it has given us. The idea is not linked to just products and textiles but it concerns the entire system of fashion. From manufactures to buyers, everyone can help contribute to a green future.
Following sustainable fashion is about making informed choices and the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce, reuse and recycle should be the ideology for 2020 and as the first step towards achieving this, you should begin by de-cluttering your wardrobe. Eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable fashion is finally on the industry's agenda - and for many brands and designers, this has been a year of awakening. While we have taken note of the issue to be addressed, its time to throw light on one of the key factors that are causing this situation. One of the biggest culprits is fast fashion. Fast fashion is the need to constantly upgrade your wardrobe with the latest fashion trends; these clothes are usually made cheap to meet the demand of the latest fashion trend. Today, the world is more aware of the harmful effects of fast-fashion and is hence, moving towards the larger idea of sustainable fashion. Brand and consumers are slowly moving away from the idea of fast fashion and adopting a slow fashion lifestyle.
Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BsIe6gdHqCy/ Just like consumers today are more health-conscious and have started adopting healthier eating habits like turning vegan, similarly, they are also shifting their approach when it comes to their purchasing decisions. The consumer is now thinking about what they buy by asking themselves if it’s a piece that they will wear or is it just out of impulse. Hence leading to a change in consumption philosophies. When it comes to the brands, the goal is to create a system, which works without leaving negative footprints. Battling the larger idea of fashion sustainability, designers are creating garments that are timeless and can be styled in multiple ways. Not only are fashion designers adopting more eco-friendly materials and methods of production, but there is also a visible shift in consumer behaviour. Consumers are investing in classic, evergreen pieces that can be used over a span of a couple of years. With the rise of rental and re-sale fashion, wardrobes of the future are getting smaller, more temporary and filled with pieces designed to last them longer. When we speak of fashion sustainability three broad topics tend to cross our mind – Reduce, reuse and recycle. But what do each of these mean, and how can we incorporate these into our lifestyle to make a difference to the larger world? A reduction in fast fashion is linked to lower carbon emission. Materials such as polyester that are used to create fast fashion are to blame when one thinks of a high carbon footprint. So it all starts with purchasing less on the customers’ part, while brands need to invest in durable and eco-friendly material like cotton, linen, khadi and more. A larger number of brands are ditching cheap synthetic fibres like polyester, nylon and spandex, which are not grown naturally. But despite this customers also need to adopt a more sustainable consumption pattern. Rentals, which are growing extremely popular is another way to help in reducing the number of outfits bought per person. Second-hand clothes consumption makes for an extremely sustainable solution as the pieces already exist, so there is no negative impact of production. Hence, in turn, this leads to lower carbon footprints.
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Reusing begins at home whether by brands or customers. High fashion brands and stores need to adopt the idea of taking back old clothes and re-vamping them to create new pieces – think patchwork, or up-cycling already existing pieces to create new silhouettes. Consumers, on the other hand, should begin by using their pieces more than just once, the idea is to invest in pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a brand new ensemble. Further, if one doesn’t like the silhouette, take it to your tailor and get it re-vamped into a completely new outfit.
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Recycling can be linked-to swapping/borrowing clothes as well as up-cycling existing pieces. Further, investing in wardrobe staples will ensure you wear the outfit more than just once. Style the same lower with different tops or the same blouse with different bottoms, you can also opt to layer up to add a different touch. Brands need to help the consumer realize even if a t-shirt is stained or damaged making it the end of its life; it could likely be recycled into something else. Making this clear to the consumer is the key to making fashion more sustainable in the long run. Just like we’re doing away with single-use plastic and plastic in general from our lives, we should think about our clothes the same way. This thought should ultimately change the way we shop to realize the true value of every piece of clothing.
Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BpJXQHAH65V/ Today, sustainability is a way of doing business rather than just a concept and many brands are embracing the concept of sustainability by implementing it in their business. The brands have realized that integrating social and environmental issues with the business would yield long-term benefits to the company. It’s time we realized that the idea of owning something cheap that you only wear a few times feels pretty horrible in light of the climate crisis and an economic slowdown.