This is a borderline anti-fashion post written by someone who works in fashion and has lived/breathed fashion for the past decade. I’m not against style, design, or creativity—or glitz and glamour if I’m being real—but I am against the current state of our industry and how consumers are basically hamsters running around in a circle inside of an H&M.
Fashion week is starting, and I find myself more triggered than excited. I was so deep in that shimmering mess for a decade, but the world can’t afford to keep ignoring how detrimental the fashion industry really is to people, the planet, and our idea of happiness in general.
Mass-market fashions are churned out at a rate that is physically draining and killing factory workers. Fabric is thrown away by the ton during production and after we buy, wear, and discard clothing. Thrift stores are overflowing and developing nations are in turn overwhelmed with our unwanted items, shipped by the boatload, which is also impacting their economies and putting local artisans out of business.
The planet suffers from depleted resources, excess waste, and toxic byproducts. Oh, and rampant ego. And why? So we can buy new shit at H&M every week? So we can be sold on the idea that “happiness” is a new bag or dress?
I’ve been enamored with fashion for my *entire* life, pouring over the pages of Vogue, etc, and I’ve spent thousands and thousands on clothing over time. So Shouldn’t I be ECSTATIC by now, if these things are supposed to be satisfying and make us happy?
It’s a cycle of bullshit. It’s hype. It’s empty. We get tired of new things within a month and we’re back online, ordering a new wardrobe with a few clicks. Clothing gets cheaper and crappier in quality. We get more addicted because it’s so easy to buy. And Fashion Week (in every city it erupts in) is just the parade that kicks off another season of wasteful, mindless consumption.
I used to focus on the creativity, innovation, and excitement of it all, especially when I was bragging about getting seats at shows in my 20s, but now it’s a reminder of a dark future the industry is helping to create.
Listen, I LOVE style. I LOVE fashion. I LOVE design. I’ve been struggling for a couple years about how these passions, these loves fit into the next part of my life because they breed major guilt, the way they’re manifesting now. And guilt is the TINIEST part of this problem.
It’s time to make peace with style, art, and design inspiration in a way that rejects the wasteful reality of the fashion industry. We need to reassess. We need to flip everything on its head and rethink the way we shop. We need to take action, one by one, and keep asking our peers to stop and think about what they’re buying.
It seems impossible since we’re so used to shopping this way (without thinking, I open browser tabs to see what’s new in stores I like, because it feels FUN in the moment), but if you think about it, fast fashion and our current wasteful buying habits have only been in play for about 15 years, and even less if you hone in on the extreme state they are in now.
It’s reversible. The industry WILL change if consumers change. Supply meets demand. And if we don’t change, we’re just going to implode. Something is going to give (and it might be the entire planet).
I do believe consumers have been on this inevitable trajectory for decades, and here we are, but I also think people are waking up to the patterns and cycles we’ve all been trained to stay stuck in.
I think that’s why Marie Kondo is suddenly a household name and “minimalism” is trendy. It’s because we dream of a life where we’re not controlled by stuff. We want things to have meaning, right down to our clothing and personal style.
Anyway, this is getting long, so just wanted to leave some productive action steps here:
👚 Buy less, less often. Buy higher quality. Yes, that usually means more expensive. Reject the idea that sales are irresistible and cheap is good. Find a hobby to replace shopping. I am also working on this!
👚 When you do shop, shop second-hand. Reject the idea that second-hand is a dusty basement thrift shop. There are hoards of online markets to browse with high-quality vintage and second-hand clothing. Start with Etsy, Ebay, and Poshmark.
👚 When you’re getting rid of clothing, think about where it’s going and during what season. Call ahead and ask what thrift stores need. Find out what consignment shops are buying. Take responsibility for the things you brought into your life in the first place, and get rid of them responsibly.
👚 Watch Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix if you haven’t already. She might be a bit hard to swallow, but at least she’s switching up the narrative about the North American addiction to stuff.
I will always get chills when I see a beautiful dress go down the runway. I will always fawn over girly, gorgeous dresses and people who have amazing style. I will continue to support small designers and creative, eco-friendly brands.
I will always remember my fashion education fondly and hand-bead to destress on Sunday afternoons… but I’m going to work hard on changing my bad habits. I’m going to work very hard to be more aware.
Wouldn’t fashion be more fun and uplifting if it didn’t come with bad karma and guilt? I certainly think so.
This started off as a social media post, but I don’t want it lost to timelines, so I put it here, too. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m curious about your thoughts! Comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org