In a world where fast fashion brands shell out billions of advertising and marketing dollars to get us to spend more, constantly buy new, and throw away at the slightest sign of wear, it is no wonder we have been swept up in a consumer culture that glorifies the never-ending chase of faster and faster fashion. The messages and images that brands show us are often geared towards making us feel less-than and promise us that buying more will make us feel worthy, beautiful, powerful, and accepted.
They’ve gotten into our heads, our hearts, our psyche, and our wallets.
In order to “break up with fast fashion” we need to understand how our overstuffed closets, mindless scrolling, and addictive shopping habits came to be. A fashion reset won’t work if we don’t understand where we have been, why we did what we did, and what those choices mean about who we are. Aiming for the goal of wearing a garment at least 30 times (before swapping, trading, selling, or recycling it — never in the trash, please!) is a great route to go, and it also helps us understand where we came from.
To paraphrase an important passage form Lauren’s book regarding #30wears: “Before you buy anything, ask yourself: will I wear it thirty times? It’s a very good deterrent to stop you buying clothes you can’t commit to, but it’s also helpful as a retroactive way to examine your shopping errors. Look at the clothes you own that you have worn thirty times, and ask yourself why. Is it a certain fabric or color you always go back to? A certain shape? Historical period you love? More expensive, classic pieces? Or kooky vintage items?…”
How to Break up with Fast Fashion is not just a how-to guide, but rather, a map that takes you through the deeply connected systems that are at play in the apparel industry today. It challenges us to look deeper into the greenwashed messages we are receiving (like all that performative allyship we are NOT here for). “Here’s a feminist t-shirt raising funds for charity! Oh wait, it was made in a sweatshop. Here’s a brand making strides to champion diversity! Oh wait, every single one of their executives is a white man named Steve. Here’s a — oh wait, never mind. Cancelled. Shut it down.” As consumers we have a responsibility to better understand how our purchases affect the garment makers behind them, and the planet that is forced to produce, and then break them down.
Lauren provides a lot of easy ways to clean up our act and encourages us to get creative with how we shop. There are more ways than ever to rent, borrow, swap, mend, circulate, and keep giving clothes all the love and attention they deserve! Let’s normalize outfit repeating and swapping not shopping — and let’s use our voices on social media to show others it’s OK to do these things, because we are proud to do them! Lead by example.
“On social media, at the bus stop, in the changing rooms and in the festival loo queues, we need to be raving about our secondhand finds, applauding the outfit-repeaters, offering to mend each other’s buttons. It feels like the best way to keep fashion as an expression of culture and creativity, not a contract we’re bound to against our will. Sharing is caring, and collaboration is the best chance we have of taking on the shady conglomerates, calling out the exploiters, championing the little guys, borrowing that killer outfit, locating that magical charity shop, getting our skirt hemmed, discovering an ocean-friendly fabric, helping that lovely social enterprise get off the ground and finding out how to get the gravy stain out of our (massive societal) shift dress. No one person can do it all perfectly, but between us all, we could have this covered.”