It’s no secret that I am head over heels in love with thrifting and sustainable fashion, so a few weeks ago, I went to an event with a friend which was part of the Change Festival. It was a follow up talk, titled Imagine Dressing Better. I assumed that it would be a panel-style talk where they would preach to the converted about sustainability and why what we’re doing is “good”. But it actually went far beyond that.
Imagine sustainable fashion to be its own shape. Now imagine that the shape is 100 feet tall. Everyone who takes interest in sustainable fashion is on the shape or around the shape trying to get a feel of it, and everyone is seeing the shape from a different perspective. I caught four different perspectives from four different professionals in the industry that helped me develop the way I see sustainable fashion.
One panellist that really caught my attention was Daughter. As a fashion blogger and as someone who was passionate about sustainable fashion, a lot of what she was saying resonated with me heavily:
“The negative thing about our throwaway culture is that we often start to treat our human relationships like that.”
We discussed the stigma behind second hand clothes, and why people feel “scruffy” or “poor” wearing them, and talked about ways that we can interact with people who don’t feel that second hand clothes are worth the hype. I could rant and rave about the bad ethical and environmental practices in fast fashion but you’ve heard it all before.
One thing I will do is talk to you about COW in Birmingham:
COW is your super edgy, thrift store that resells, repairs and upcycles clothing all to encourage people to get creative and sustainable. A cool thing that they do is keep all the spare fabrics in boxes so that if people walk in and request any, they will give it away for free. They are an independent business that is going against the tide of Birmingham’s shopping culture, and I find that amazing. If you find yourself in Birmingham, go to COW and see that second hand isn’t just raiding your grandad’s wardrobe. You can find them at https://wearecow.com/ or even follow their Instagram accounts @wearecow and @cowbirmingham.
Just go and check out their editorials (if you’re like me, you love your editorials). The manager at COW Birmingham talked about how editorials transformed their marketing:
“Editorials make people realise how gorgeous old clothes can be.”
And with time left for questions, a bombshell was dropped. We discussed Extinction Rebellion and their view on fashion – they take a rather radical stance and believe that the concept of fashion should be abolished completely.
However, as a person who loves the work of environmental activism but also loves fashion, I had to disagree. I think fashion is a beautiful concept – trends in my eyes are just the produce of perpetual creativity, but I can agree that fast fashion in an ideal world should be abolished. Fast fashion perverts the produce of a creative mind and gears it towards money making. That’s why we get the most abstract dresses, but only a celebrity can afford them and we get the cheap copies. I would apply the constructivist argument to fashion and say that fashion is only what you make of it – it isn’t inherently evil or inherently good, but a neutral term by which the human body becomes a blank canvas just waiting to be coloured in. The Extinction Rebellion sees enjoyment and survival a separate, but I think the two are inextricably linked. This is why I love sustainable fashion so much – it facilitates a creative existence rather than just an existence.