Míg a divatbemutatók önmagukban az iparág környezeti hatásának csak egy kis töredékét teszik ki, Rachel Arthur szerint a divatbemutatók a bolygót károsító túlfogyasztást tápláló marketinggépezet középpontjában állnak.
Racher Arthur tanácsadó, író és az ENSZ Környezetvédelmi Programjának fenntartható divatért felelős vezetője és az ő cikkét adjuk közre magyar fordításban.
Az elmúlt hetekben a divatszakma visszaáramlott Párizsból, a luxusipar kétévente megrendezésre kerülő női divathét utolsó és legpompásabb állomásáról.
Vásárlók, hírességek és influencerek százai repültek oda benzinfaló repülőjáratokon, hogy egy pillanatra bepillantást nyerjenek az új kollekciókba, amelyeket gondosan megmunkáltak egy olyan elavuláshoz, amely azt jelenti, hogy mindenki hajlandó lesz újra repülőre ülni, és hat hónap múlva újra megismételni az egészet.
Az biztos, hogy az ezekkel a nagyszabású marketing pillanatokkal közvetlenül összefüggő kibocsátások és hulladékok csepp a tengerben az iparág teljes lábnyomához képest. Az évek során a márkák és a divattanácsok erőfeszítéseket tettek mindkettő csökkentésére.
A bemutatók közvetlen hatására való kizárólagos összpontosítás azonban figyelmen kívül hagyja a nagyobb képet: a divat negatív környezeti és társadalmi hatásának középpontjában a túltermelés és a túlfogyasztás áll. És mit tesznek a divathetek, ha nem mindkettőt táplálják? Vegyük csak a közelmúltbeli New York-i, londoni, milánói és párizsi rendezvények sorát, nem is beszélve a gyakran túlzó módon megrendezett és elő-őszi kollekciókról – minden egyes bemutató beindít egy marketinggépezetet, amelynek célja az új termékek vásárlásának ösztönzése. Az események által inspirált trendek, az általuk biztosított médiaérték és végső soron a vásárlás, amelyre mindezek ösztönöznek, táplálják a környezeti hatásukat.
Ez a divatbemutatók úgynevezett “agylenyomata”: a kifutón való megjelenésnek a fogyasztásra gyakorolt hatása.
“Ha a lábnyomod a működésedet írja le, akkor az agynyomod azt írja le, hogy az embereket milyen érzésekkel töltöd el. Ez az Ön kulturális lenyomata” – mondta Lucy Shea, a Futerra változási ügynökség csoport vezérigazgatója.
A divatbemutatókra költött milliók nem csak a kifutó kollekciók értékesítését mozdítják elő, hanem a szomszédos és könnyebben hozzáférhető termékek – a táskáktól az illatokig – sokkal szélesebb körű fogyasztását ösztönzik, valamint a tömegpiaci másolatok iránti keresletet is.
A reklámipar felismerte ezt a dinamikát. A Purpose Disruptors, egy korábbi reklámszakemberekből álló szervezet, amelynek célja az éghajlatváltozás katalizálása, bevezette a reklámozott kibocsátás fogalmát, amely a kampányok által generált forgalomnövekedés mérésére utal. Ez azt mutatja, hogy a reklámok 32 százalékkal növelik az Egyesült Királyságban minden egyes ember éves szén-dioxid-kibocsátását.
Talán szükségünk lenne egy ezzel egyenértékű elszámolási folyamatra a divatmarketing számára. Nevezzük el “trendkibocsátásnak” – egy olyan mód, amellyel mérhető a luxus imázsépítés által vezérelt fogyasztás hatása.
Ez azért fontos, mert a divat csak akkor fogja elérni fenntarthatósági céljait, ha csökkenti az eladott termékek mennyiségét. De a luxus agynyomása – a divatbemutatóktól kezdve a szerkesztőségi fotózásokig, reklámkampányokig és influencer posztokig, amelyeket elősegítenek – jelenleg az ellenkezőjére ösztönöz, arra buzdítva a vásárlókat, hogy vásároljanak a villámgyorsan változó trendeknek
Ezt az ENSZ Környezetvédelmi Programja és az ENSZ Éghajlatváltozással foglalkozó szervezete a Fenntartható divatkommunikációs útmutatóban (Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook) https://www.unep.org/interactives/sustainable-fashion-communication-playbook/ állapította meg. Ez egy felhívás a túlzott fogyasztás üzeneteinek felszámolására, beleértve a hagyományos divatbemutatókat is, és ehelyett a fenntartható fogyasztás irányába kell terelni az erőfeszítéseket.
Ennek nem kell a divathetek halálát jelentenie – ahogyan a fenntartható divatágazat sem követeli meg a divat teljes megszűnését. De mindkettő radikális változást igényel.
Az olyan bemutatók, ahol milliókat költenek a gazdagság pillanatnyi és extravagáns fitogtatására (mindezt azért, hogy a kapcsolódó márka- és médiaértékből további milliókat nyerjenek vissza), nem aktuálisak egy olyan időszakban, amikor iparágként hozzájárulunk a bolygórendszerek eróziójához, amelyektől a túlélésünk függ, és eközben emberek millióit sújtjuk, főként a fejlődő országokban.
Ez áll a középpontjában annak, hogy Amy Powney, a fenntarthatóságra összpontosító Mother of Pearl luxusmárka kreatív igazgatója miért nem tart többé divatbemutatókat.
“Az éghajlati összeomlás idején ez durvának és szükségtelennek tűnt” – mondta. Ehelyett arra kellene használnunk az ilyen alkalmakat, hogy támogassuk és ünnepeljük azokat, akik megmutatják, hogy másképp is lehet.
A koppenhágai divathét az alternatív megközelítés egyik példája: A tervezőknek 2023-tól 18 konkrét fenntarthatósági követelménynek kell megfelelniük ahhoz, hogy bemutatót tarthassanak. Többek között nem szabad megsemmisíteniük a korábbi kollekciók eladatlan ruháit, a bemutatott ruhák legalább felének jobb anyagokból kell készülnie, és a márkáknak vállalniuk kell, hogy platformjaikat a vásárlók oktatására és tájékoztatására használják a fenntarthatósági gyakorlatukról. Bár van még hova fejlődni, más nagyvárosokkal összehasonlítva ez egy nagy nyilatkozat.
Most azokra van szükségünk, akik ismét nagyobb léptékben gondolkodnak arról, hogyan mutassuk be a divattal való kapcsolat új módjait. Végül is ez már nem a fokozatos változás ideje. Az átalakulást fel kell turbózni, új rendszereket és üzleti modelleket kell kifejleszteni – olyanokat, amelyek nem arra épülnek, hogy egyszerűen egyre több és több új dolgot adnak el, és nem gondolnak az emberekre, a bolygóra, sőt a profitra gyakorolt hosszú távú hatásokra. A divatbemutatók újragondolása ennek része.
A divat maga is felismerte a változás szükségességét. A világjárvány idején az iparágon belül egyre többen kérték, hogy reformálják meg a divathetek könyörtelen forgását, ami a független tervezők számára pénzügyileg bénító lehet.
Ahelyett, hogy a platformok egy elavult, elromlott rendszert táplálnának, a divatheteknek lehetőséget kellene adniuk egy új rendszer elképzelésére. A márkáknak arra kellene használniuk őket, hogy rávilágítsanak a megoldásokra, valamint hogy felemeljék és ösztönözzék a tudatos fogyasztás körüli törekvéseket. Erre már vannak példák. Az idei szezonban Párizsban Stella McCartney a kifutón tartott bemutatóját az alacsonyabb környezeti terhelésű anyaginnovációk piacával egészítette ki. New Yorkban Maria McManus tervező a bemutató végeztével a közönséggel együtt végigvezette, hogyan készültek az egyes darabok a fenntarthatóság jegyében.
Ünnepeljük azokat is, akik a körforgásos megoldásokat helyezik előtérbe; azokat, akik a hulladékot erőforrássá alakítják, és arra ösztönzik a fogyasztókat, hogy szeressenek bele az olyan fogalmakba, mint a használt és újrahasznosított divat. Egy párizsi divathét csereboltja, amelyben a szokásos első soros versenyzők is részt vennének, nem csak hatalmas nyilatkozat lenne, hanem talán az egyik legnagyszerűbb divatbemutató, amelyet a mai divatipar valaha is látott.
Itt van egy kreatív lehetőség arra, hogy az ember használja az agylenyomat erejét, és új utat kovácsoljon. Bár a kreativitást nem szabad korlátozni, azt feltétlenül át kell irányítani.
Did you miss some of the events that we got involved in this month? Not to worry, here is what we did early this October.
Fashion Revolution Philippines (FashRevPH) marked the World Circular Textile Day with a series of events. World Circular Textile Day is celebrated each year on October 8 but one day was not enough for this year 2023.
FashRevPH joins an exhibit and bazaar at Eastwood Plaza in Quezon City with WearForward and Restore. The event featured a well-curated selection of sustainable fashion brands, a clothing swap party with free consultation on sustainable fashion practices, and a showcase of upcycled pieces from Jan Paul Martinez, a local fashion designer. This activity ran from October 6 to October 10.
Tere Arigo, FashRevPH Country Coordinator, facilitated the virtual panel discussion titled “Closing the Loop: Navigating the Challenges and Opportunities in Textile Waste.” Top industry figures from diverse backgrounds joins the panel discussion. The panel started off with FashRevPH spokesperson Prince Jimdel Ventura of WearForward followed by Noreen Baustista the co-founder of Panublix, joined with her is a fashion educator and sustainable designer Irene Subang, with a professional wardrobe stylist and author of Always Be Chic Miss KC Leyco and lastly Lester Dellosa an environment activist who is also the founder and creative director of CICCADA.
The time for discussion of environmental and economic challenges posed by textile wastes in the Philippines was not enough. It included the innovative solutions that can transform these issues into opportunities for circular fashion materials, processes, business models, products, services, and consumption were too broad to talk about in just an hour.
FashRevPH collaborated with MakeSense Philippines in a Capacity Building Workshop on Textile Circularity on October 13, 2023. The workshop was held at BSA Twin Towers in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.
FashRevPH participated in the workshop to talk about local textiles and sustainable fashion with Mr Ventura as part of the panel in the first part of the program. The organization guided the design of one of MakeSense’s capacity-building workshops in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
FashRevPH is committed to promoting sustainable fashion in the Philippines. The organization works to educate consumers about the impact of their fashion choices and to encourage them to support a more sustainable approach.
Manila, Philippines – The Fashion Revolution Philippines commemorates the victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, in alignment with the Fashion Revolution week held globally. The Rana Plaza factory collapse killed 1,138 textile workers and injured more people became an eye-opener to the world on 24 April 2013. The incident drove the Fashion Revolution movement to push for labor rights transparency and sustainability in the fashion world.
The Fashion Revolution Philippines’ first in-person event held for two days since the pandemic started. The two-day event happened in Moda Laya in commemoration of the 10 anniversary after Rana Plaza disaster. Attendees participated in activities such as clothes swapping, panel discussion with the experts and the screen showing of two documentary films.
The “Se Abrió Paca,” a film made by the Fashion Revolution Guatemala, gave a heartfelt discussion among its viewers just after it was shown with the “True Costs” documentary and the power outage on the first day. Activities on the next day went well with the clothes swapping and panel discussion. Prince Ventura leads the panel discussion with Bianca Gregorio, owner of Moda Laya and founder of Re-clothing, Irene Subang, sustainable fashion designer and educator, and Jamie Naval, founder and CEO of Twenty Kids and Barrio Studios. Our guest experts discussed that the society today needs to focus on the importance of sustainable practices and a circular wardrobe.
Fashion Revolution Week is our annual campaign bringing together the world’s largest fashion activism movement for seven days of action. It centres around the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed around 1,138 people and injured many more on 24 April 2013.
This year, as we marked the tenth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, we remembered the victims, survivors and families affected by this preventable tragedy and continue to demand that no one dies for our fashion. To define the next decade of change, we translated our 10-point Manifesto into action for a safe, just and transparent global fashion industry. Our campaign platformed the work of our diverse Global Network who provided local interpretations of their chosen Manifesto point(s). We believe that while fashion has a colossal negative impact, it also has the power and the potential to be a force for change. Together, we expanded the horizons of what fashion could – and should – be.
Here, catch up on some of the week’s highlights and find out how to stay involved with our work, all year round.
Fashion Revolution Week happens every year in the week coinciding with April 24th, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster. On April 24th 2013, the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed in a preventable tragedy. More than 1,100 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. On April 24th, we paused all other campaigning to pay our respects to the victims, survivors and families affected by this tragedy, and came together as a global community to remember Rana Plaza.
As we reflect a decade on, we are inspired by and celebrate the progress made in the Bangladesh Ready-made Garment (RMG) sector by the Accord. The International Accord on Fire and Building Safety was the first legally-binding brand agreement on worker health and safety in the fashion industry and is the most important agreement to keep garment workers safe to date. This year, we pay tribute to the joint efforts of all Accord stakeholders who have significantly contributed to safer workplaces for over 2 million garment factory workers in Bangladesh, including the Bangladeshi trade unions representing garment workers, alongside Global Union Federations and labour rights groups. We welcome the introduction of the Pakistan Accord and would like to see the adoption and success of the International Accord replicated in all garment producing countries.
Our theme for Fashion Revolution Week 2023 was Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution. Back in 2018, we created a 10-point Manifesto that solidifies our vision to a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit. This year we called on citizens, brands and makers alike to sign their name in support of turning these demands into a reality, boosting our signature count to 15,500 Fashion Revolutionaries and counting. We are immensely grateful to everyone who has and continues to sign; our power is in our number and each signature strengthens our collective call to revolutionise the fashion industry.
To campaign for systemic change in the fashion industry, we themed the week around complementary Manifesto points, providing ways to be curious, find out and do something daily around each of them. From supply chain transparency to living wages, textile waste to cultural appropriation, freedom of association to biodiversity, we shared global perspectives and solutions to fashion’s most pressing social and environmental problems.
Over the past ten years, the noise around sustainable fashion has only got louder. But meanwhile, real progress is too slow in the context of the climate crisis and rising social injustice. That’s why Fashion Revolution Week 2023 was an action-packed and future-focused campaign that amplified the actions and perspectives of Fashion Revolutionaries around the world.
View this post on Instagram
To capture these global perspectives, we launched the Fashion Revolution Map on Earth Day, which coincided with the start of Fashion Revolution Week. Developed by Talk Climate Change, the Map served as a global forum to reflect on the week’s themes and events, using our Manifesto as a talking point. Fashion Revolutionaries continued the discussion offline by inviting their family, friends, colleagues and classmates to imagine what a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry would look like with us. These conversations were then recorded on the Map as a source of inspiration and knowledge exchange.
Anyone can be a Fashion Revolutionary; it starts with a simple dialogue about the changes you want to see in the fashion industry. Make your voice heard by contributing to our map today and help change the fashion industry through the power of conversation!
View this post on Instagram
Ten years on from Rana Plaza, poverty wages remain endemic to the global garment industry. Most of the people who make our clothes still earn poverty wages while fashion brands continue to turn huge profits. At Fashion Revolution, we believe there is no sustainable fashion without fair pay which is why we launched Good Clothes, Fair Pay as part of a wider coalition last July. The Good Clothes Fair Pay campaign demands living wage legislation at EU level for garment workers worldwide, building on Manifesto points 1 and 2.
During Fashion Revolution Week, our EU teams coordinated awareness events, campaigns and marches to mobilise signatures for this campaign. On April 25th, we headed to the European Parliament with Fashion Revolution Belgium to demand better legislation in the fashion industry. The day of action consisted of a panel discussion between Members of the European Parliament and impacted fashion stakeholders, and ended with a stunt outside the Parliament. Fashionably Late highlighted that the EU is running out of time to act on poverty wages in fashion. This stunt was replicated by our teams in Germany, France and the Netherlands throughout Fashion Revolution Week to demonstrate EU-wide solidarity with the people who make our clothes.
We have less than three months left to collect 1 million signatures from EU citizens to push for legislation that requires companies to conduct living wage due diligence in their supply chains, irrespective of where their clothes are made. If you are an EU citizen, sign your name here. If you’re unable to sign, please support the campaign by sharing it far and wide online.
View this post on Instagram
Fashion Revolution Open Studios is Fashion Revolution’s showcasing and mentoring initiative since 2017. Through exhibitions, presentations, talks, and workshops with emerging designers, established trailblazers and major players, we celebrate the people, products and processes behind our clothes.
This Fashion Revolution Week, Fashion Revolution Open Studios joined forces with Small but Perfect to spotlight the work of 28 European SMEs taking part in their circularity accelerator project. Forming part of this European events programme, Fashion Revolution Open Studios held a two-day event in partnership with The Sustainable Angle and xyz.exchange at The Lab E20. The event showcased seven innovative designers from the Small But Perfect cohort of sustainable SMEs and displayed how they are embedding circular solutions into their work, from crafting grape leather handbags to developing community approaches to making and working together. Alongside the exhibition, there were livestreamed webinars, workshops and panel discussions to explore the projects and hear about some of the the challenges facing small businesses and the industry at large in switching to circular business models.
With 75+ teams from all around the world, Fashion Revolution Week 2023 championed the perspectives and contributions of our Global Network. Here are just a small selection of highlights from our country teams:
Fashion Revolution New Zealand unpacked each Manifesto point with industry trailblazers in an Instagram Live series.
Fashion Revolution Nigeria shared the stories and journeys of local slow fashion brands.
Fashion Revolution Argentina invited us to join their Wikipedia edit-a-thon.
Fashion Revolution India won the Elle Sustainability Award for Eco-Innovation in Fashion.
Fashion Revolution Uganda brought together the country’s top designers and brands at Kwetu Kwanza.
Fashion Revolution Hungary championed the revival of traditional folklore practices in clothing and fashion.
Fashion Revolution USA discussed the fashion industry’s impact on people and planet in a 2-part Zoom series.
Fashion Revolution Uruguay hosted Fashion Celebrates Life, a community picnic themed around Manifesto point 10.
We are so grateful to everyone in our community for getting involved in Fashion Revolution Week on social media and beyond. Every single voice makes a difference in our fight for a fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.
While Fashion Revolution Week 2023 may be over, our community, our campaigning and our movement continues, 365 days a year. Please join us in fighting for systemic change by:
Using our online resources: Our website is a treasure trove of information, from how to guides and online courses to annual reporting on transparency on the fashion industry. Get started here.
From all of us in the Fashion Revolution team, we appreciate your support and we look forward to seeing you next year!
Artículo redactado por Nora Sesmero Andrés, voluntaria de Fashion Revolution.
Humana Fundación Pueblo para Pueblo es una organización sin ánimo de lucro que se encarga del reciclaje del textil en España. Los ciudadanos españoles nos desprendemos al año de 1’2 millones de toneladas de ropa, y eso tiene un gran impacto en el medioambiente.
Si por algo destaca Humana es por ser una organización transparente. En su web podemos encontrar toda la información trazada para que el ciudadano de a pie conozca cómo trabajan.
Esta fundación se dedica a reinsertar en el ciclo de vida las prendas de las que los consumidores nos desprendemos, aunque no dan abasto. De las 1’2 millones de toneladas de prendas que los ciudadanos españoles desechan al año, actualmente solo se recicla un 10%. Otros proyectos en España como Moda re- se dedican también a esta labor.
Humana tiene 5200 contenedores de donación de ropa repartidos por España, promoviendo que los consumidores donemos nuestra ropa cuando creamos que realmente ya no la podemos vestir, aprovechando todo su potencial. En sus plantas de reciclaje de Madrid y Barcelona, donde se puede acudir para conocer cómo trabajan, se observan pilas y pilas de sacas de ropa prensada. Algunas de esas sacas pesan alrededor de unos 400kg.
Cuando los ciudadanos dejan sus bolsas de ropa en los contenedores de Humana, estas se transportan a sus plantas de reciclaje y mediante un proceso rápido y efectivo se clasifican según su estado para dotarlas de un nuevo uso. Un 90% de estas son destinadas a la venta de segunda mano tanto en España como en los países donde realizan sus programas sociales.
De esta manera, tratan de fomentar la moda de segunda mano, a partir de la venta de ropa en sus tiendas, donde según muchos de sus clientes, podemos encontrar prendas completamente nuevas. Esto demuestra la mala educación que tiene el consumidor de moda a día de hoy. Por ello, creen que es importante educar a este en la sensibilización, que seamos conscientes del impacto que tienen nuestras compras. “Dado que las calidades de la moda rápida son pésimas, las prendas que se reciclan también son cada vez de peor calidad”, afirma el responsable de comunicación de Humana, Rubén González. La solución pasaría por dejar de consumir este tipo de moda y comenzar a invertir en prendas de calidad.
Parte de los beneficios que esta fundación produce se destinan a realizar proyectos sociales en países del sur, relacionados con la educación, la salud, la agricultura, el cambio climático, el desarrollo comunitario, etc. En países como China, Ecuador, Laos, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Zambia y España. En 2020, sus proyectos de cooperación involucraron a cerca de 125.000 personas.
Algunos de los proyectos de educación se encargan de formar a profesores de primaria en el entorno rural, ya que defienden que los profesores bien formados, motivados y comprometidos son la mejor palanca para hacer avanzar la educación. Impulsan la agricultura urbana, ecológica y sostenible, además del desarrollo rural. En el ámbito de la salud, tratan de educar a las personas para prevenir el VIH. En 2021 se ha profundizado en el fortalecimiento de los programas relacionados con cambio climático y del trabajo junto a socios especializados. Esta labor contra las consecuencias del calentamiento global tuvo su prolongación en la COP26 de Glasgow, en la que Humana participó para compartir la experiencia acumulada mediante los programas Farmers Club, establecer lazos con otras entidades y detectar oportunidades para seguir promoviendo acciones en favor de la adaptación y la mitigación de las consecuencias del cambio climático.
Humana ha convertido un oficio antiguo, el de los traperos, en una manera de hacer que la moda sea circular y financiar con ello distintos proyectos sociales.
A partir de 2025, el reciclaje de ropa será obligatorio en la Unión Europea. Esto produce una sensación de esperanza, ya que será menos probable que encontremos imágenes como la del mercado de Kantamanto, en Ghana. Es importante poner el foco en lo que aún queda por mejorar, y la reducción de la producción y el consumo son claves para hacer que la industria de la moda de un salto hacia la sostenibilidad.
Otra de las tareas pendientes consiste en que las prendas que se produzcan sean de un solo material. Debido a que reciclar ropa de diferentes composiciones es un trabajo complejo y caro.
La organización trabaja en el fortalecimiento de iniciativas de I+D+i para prolongar el ciclo de vida del textil y el calzado y, al mismo tiempo, multiplicar sus posibilidades de reaprovechamiento, en el marco de la economía circular y la jerarquía de residuos. Por ello, más allá de la preparación para la reutilización, la Fundación colabora en España con diferentes asociados en el impulso de proyectos de diversa naturaleza, desarrollando de modo conjunto soluciones concretas en aras de impulsar una mayor circularidad en la gestión del textil usado. Como su participación como miembros impulsores del Pacte per a la Moda Circular de Cataluña o su reciente adhesión al Consejo Asesor del proyecto Life Kanna Green, nacido para proponer y definir un nuevo modelo de consumo y economía circular para el calzado, basado en los principios del ‘Cradle to cradle’, donde nada es un residuo.
Otros de los objetivos de Humana son: conseguir abarcar más cantidad de ropa para poder reciclarla, optimizar sus procesos de reciclaje, ampliar el número de tiendas, generar empleo, avanzar con sus proyectos sociales, trabajar con otras empresas del sector de la reutilización, ayuntamientos, etc. Su mensaje es positivo, creen que vamos hacia una moda sostenible, mucho más regulada e inteligente.
Si quieres leer el anterior artículo de la autora, pulsa aquí.
Sustainable Fashion Week is redefining fashion week, challenging overconsumption and empowering and equipping people to have a more sustainable relationship with fashion.
The people behind the campaign, Amelia Twine and Amber Rochette, strive for a more accessible sustainable fashion movement; one that shares skills and knowledge to drive social change in local communities. With this in mind, Sustainable Fashion Week was built around four key themes: rewear, repurpose, regenerate and reconnect, with calls to action for each. While each theme is vital to the SFW movement, Amelia argues that we have to start with Reconnect; we must reconnect to the way our clothes are made, and to our relationship with our clothes.
– Amelia Twine
View this post on Instagram
Sustainable Fashion Week 2022 kicked off this weekend with the SFW Hub; taking over the iconic Bristol Beacon, an incredible line-up of industry speakers explored what sustainability in fashion means, hosted skills workshops and collectively celebrated the joy of clothing.
From greenwashing to a fashion-fuelled health crisis, the Hub explored the production of clothing from seed to highstreet and gave an insight into what changes must be made in order to revolutionise the fashion industry. Author of The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, Tansy E. Hoskins unravelled the threads of the capitalist industry to reveal the truth about our clothes, while Fashion Roundtable and Tamara Cincik examined transparency and the role of government in systemic change, and Fashion Revolution’s Delphine Williot also made an appearance, for the panel discussion People: Seeing the Human Story. Hosted by Sustainably Influenced and with other speakers from Good On You and Labour Behind the Label, the panel dissected our disconnect from the people in “people and planet” and the ways sustainability conversations often forget who made our clothes. Delphine also shared our Good Clothes, Fair Pay campaign that is demanding living wage legislation across the garment and textile industry, and making sure the people who make our clothes are not forgotten.
View this post on Instagram
– Amber Rochette
Amelia describes Sustainable Fashion Week as a ‘community to community’ organisation that celebrates the essential life skill that is sewing. With this message at its core, this year’s flagship event intends to generate action, from the ground up, that supports a change in our relationship with fashion.
Alongside the Hub and SFW Catwalk show, throughout the week community events are popping up across the UK and around the world, including clothes swaps, mending circles, skills workshops, fashion shows and street stitching. There is something for everyone but if you’re unable to attend in person, there are loads of online events you can explore.
Sustainable Fashion Week is taking place from the 16th – 25th September 2022 in Bristol, around the UK and online. For further details and to book events, visit www.sustainablefashionweek.uk/whats-on
During the month of September, the Secondhand September campaign puts pre-loved clothing in the spotlight, as people pledge to only buy secondhand clothing for the duration of the month. The pledge was started by Oxfam, who wanted people to rethink the month that’s usually associated with Fashion Week and encourage them to shop second-hand rather than the latest trends for the approaching Autumn/Winter season.
Shopping secondhand is a practice that has been around for centuries; once confined to local charity shops and resale merchants, thrifting was practiced predominantly by lower-income families who sourced good quality, low cost items that would last. Over time, buying second-hand clothing has gone in and out of style, with peaks including the anti-fashion punk movement of the 1970’s and the rise of alternative style in the 1990’s. Recently, pre-loved clothing has gained popularity as people strive to consume more consciously and embrace the slow fashion movement, with e-commerce platforms like Depop, Vinted and Ebay making it easier than ever to find high quality pieces at a lower price point.
There are many benefits of shopping second-hand, that are good for both your purse and the planet. By resisting temptation to impulsively stock up on new arrivals and instead opting for pre-loved items, you are not only saving money, but building a deeper relationship with fashion. When you’re no longer chasing the latest must-have items, you can break free from the trend cycle and begin to cultivate your own personal style, which is the key to reducing overconsumption.
Overproduction, overconsumption and waste continues to be a growing challenge caused by the fashion industry’s ‘take, make, dispose’ model where mostly non-renewable materials are extracted, made into products, and ultimately either sent to landfill or incinerated when no longer used. While it is estimated that 100 billion products are made each year, the 2022 Fashion Transparency Index found that just 15% of brands disclose data on the quantity of products made annually, leaving us with no way of understanding the scale of the situation, let alone how to tackle it. And despite many brands championing circular solutions and use of recycled materials, the Index found that only 4% of brands disclose the percentage of products designed to enable closed loop or textile to textile recycling.
Globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste is created each year and, in the UK alone, of the 300,000 tonnes of clothing donated to charity annually, 80% goes to waste. The rise of fast fashion has made overconsumption and disposable clothing our new normal, but we as consumers have the power to change this. By extending the life of garments you can challenge the idea of throwaway fashion, and save clothes from landfill or incineration.
To take part in Secondhand September, first you can pledge to not buy any new clothes for the whole month; you can do this on social media with #SecondhandSeptember and join a network of conscious individuals, which will help keep you inspired and motivated throughout the month. Alternatively, you can write it down and keep it somewhere you’ll see it; on your mirror, by your bed, or even in your purse!
Once you have committed to the challenge you can only buy items that are pre-loved, but there is no shortage of beautiful, second-hand items ready to be cherished. When you first start shopping secondhand, it can be really overwhelming and hard to know where to start. So we’ve compiled a list of advice and tips that you can refer back to this month:
It’s important to remember, however, that during Secondhand September, what we’re really challenging is overconsumption. But there are many ways you can take part that don’t revolve around shopping. You could attend or host a clothes swap, exchanging your old clothes with your friends or your community to refresh your wardrobes without spending a penny. You can revisit your own wardrobe and fall back in love with your existing pieces, and rethink your personal style by reflecting on your relationship with fashion and the trend cycle. And most importantly, you can learn how to care for your clothes properly, to ensure they will last for years to come. Remember, the most sustainable item of clothing is the one already in your wardrobe.
Learning how to properly care for your clothes is one of the most important things you can do, as it keeps clothing in use for as long as possible. By taking the time to learn about your clothes and how to keep them looking their best, you are investing in your wardrobe and reducing your need for new clothes.
If you’d like to find out more about caring for your clothes, check out our Loved Clothes Last zine. We also have a Pinterest board full of care tips, sewing tutorials, and DIY inspiration for you to explore.
Our relationship with our clothes is broken. Just a few decades ago, clothing was priced in a way that reflected its true value, garments were designed to last, and the person who bought the garment was implicit in this longevity. However, with cheap clothing now abundantly available, fashion has become disposable and waste is prevalent in every part of the industry, as a result of overproduction, overconsumption and problematic end-of-life solutions.
The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago. Trend cycles used to last roughly 20 years, meaning that clothing produced was made with intention and people invested in staple pieces, but now that cycle can be as short as a few months. Modern clothing just isn’t built to last; the fast fashion business model and micro-trends drive constant change, resulting in the mindless consumption of cheap, poor quality clothing that sometimes seems easier to throw away and replace than it is to repair.
The perceived value of clothing is only one of the reasons why we are so reluctant to make do and mend. A lack of sewing and textile education, in school or at home, is leading to the loss of traditional skills that are essential to clothing longevity. According to a survey by British Heart Foundation, around 57% of Brits said that sewing is a skill that is being lost in today’s generation, and a third of people surveyed revealed that they were never even taught how to sew. Additionally, a study by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that, as an increasing number of schools drop home economics classes due to budget cuts or changes in educational priorities, many high school students are left without basic sewing skills. This lack of education combined with cheap, disposable clothing has left us without the desire or skills to really make our clothes last.
View this post on Instagram
Although today people are less inclined to repair their clothes, mending is an ancient practice with a rich history that has been around for over 2000 years. An Egyptian children’s tunic in the Whitworth Gallery’s collection in Manchester is dated to 600-700 BC. It’s extensively darned with coloured wool threads making it one of the oldest pieces of evidence we have that humans have been darning for thousands of years. Boro in Japan creates new fabrics from fabric scraps and old clothes and in India, Rafoogari, the traditional art of darning, has been used for centuries to repair damages in textiles, preserving old clothes and giving them a new life.
Many clothes in museum collections show marks of alterations – either for different fashions and styles, for different wearers or for changes in bodies over time. The article Lessons in Reuse From… French Couture? by Elizabeth Block, reveals that in the 19th Century, wealthy women would spend thousands on couture dresses and maximised their investment by reworking them and wearing them for years. This practice reflected the value placed on these luxurious fabrics and was undertaken by upper-class women, actresses and royals. While this meant that fewer of the original garments survived, it is interesting to see how women kept up with current trends while being resourceful. Rather than being relegated to a trunk in the attic, these gowns were given new life over the decades, a testament to clothing and fashion that lasts a lifetime.
We have lost touch with this age-old tradition but it is vitally important that we revive it. By investing in your wardrobe and mending your clothing, you are ensuring that you can wear the pieces for longer, slowing down how much you consume and making sure that less goes to waste. Fundamentally, mending is a radical act of care in a fast fashion system that thrives on carelessness.
View this post on Instagram
Sustainable Fashion Week UK’s #MendItMay campaign was started on the back of the findings from behaviour change research conducted by students at the University of West England. The campaign is all about encouraging people to mend the clothes that they have, rather than buy new. Throughout the month of May, people are encouraged to share their mending projects on TikTok, inspiring others to reconsider their clothes before they dispose of them. Taking part and mending is not only good for your purse and the planet, it’s also a great mindfulness activity; find a moment of peace, disconnect from distractions and get creative.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite mending projects and collated a list of resources to help you get inspired and take part…
@sustainablefashionweek Fix your broken button with us!!! #menditmay is all about upcycling and repairing your clothes instead of throwing them away! Fixing a button takes 5 minutes and avoids discarding clothes 🌼 #sustainablefashion #fyp #repair ♬ Sleepy – Gui
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
Our Loved Clothes Last pinterest board is full of mending inspiration, sewing tutorials and clothing care advice
Check out our #LovedClothesLast playlist on the Fashion Revolution Youtube channel
Try out Remake’s 5 easy stitch fixes
Read this beginner’s guide to mending your jeans
Learn how to darn a hole in sweaters and socks
Exploring the link between the trend of Dopamine Dressing and our Loved Clothes Last movement.
Introduced as one of the biggest trends for 2022, “Dopamine Dressing” has been seen everywhere, invigorating the SS22 catwalks and dominating the streets during Fashion Week. Propelled by a desire for positivity and better well-being after the pandemic, dopamine dressing involves dressing with intention to boost your mood and bring joy, defined by vibrant colours and cheerful patterns. But it is nothing new to suggest that fashion has the power to brighten your day; it is well known that colours, styles, and textures all have psychological associations and can often be tied to memories, creating a connection between our outfits and our state of mind.
Clothing is connected to happiness for a lot of people. This is why retail therapy is so prolific and the fast fashion model of constant new-ness has dominated our consumption habits. The growth of fast fashion and material obsession within our society has created the illusion that to be fashionable is to be excessive, and that in order to be satisfied, we need to keep pace with the rapidly changing trends. However, constantly buying new products leaves us disempowered; physical goods cannot truly satisfy our emotional needs.
When people go shopping, consumption is not driven by a desire for more material goods but from an attempt to satisfy our needs. With each new item comes a novel experience, a burst of dopamine and a rush of excitement; but the crash afterwards hits harder. Fashion connects us with our emotional expression, and clothes can foster our needs for affection, identity, and creation. If these needs are being met by impulse buys and short-lived satisfaction, we become stuck in the endless cycle of shopping, desperate for the next hit of happiness.
We know that this excessive consumption is damaging to our planet and has enormous negative social impacts. Yet the cycle persists, creating with it a mountain of waste and un-loved clothes. A survey carried out by WRAP found that, in the UK, 26% of consumers reported that the reason behind the last item of clothing they threw away was because they simply didn’t like it anymore. We deem clothing to be disposable due to its low cost. We buy, we wear, we rip, we throw away. Many of us no longer feel motivated to value the things we buy, even less so to repair them when they start to fall apart. To break this pattern and transform the current industry, it is vital that we reevaluate our relationship with fashion. When it comes to shopping for and wearing clothes, our actions can change everything.
When envisioning a system in which quality is valued over quantity, understanding the value and emotional significance that fashion brings to people becomes crucial. Everyone is connected to the clothes they wear; it’s why we all have garments hanging at the back of our wardrobes that we haven’t worn in years but just can’t part with. But we shouldn’t over look the clothes we wear everyday either.
In her thesis, Stories Clothes Tell: Investigating Clothing as Objects of Love, Isabel Mundigo-Moore looks to the mundane as a place to create space for alternative narratives, challenging people to view worn clothing as objects of love and embrace the radical power of finding love stories in everyday dress, a sentiment echoed by our Loved Clothes Last campaign. To truly cherish the clothing we collect, we need to nurture a deep understanding of our connection to fashion, looking beyond the superficial and materialistic to see the layers of life events, people, feelings, and memories that lie within our clothes. By doing so, we can begin to create more meaningful, lasting connections with fashion.
While the current trend of “dopamine dressing” is characterised by its rainbow hues and clashing prints, the sentiment behind the style is much more diverse. Within colour psychology, there are strong connections between certain shades and their mood-boosting qualities; the enduring association of happiness with the colour yellow is a prime example. But what feels good to one person won’t necessarily feel the same for another. This is because we all have our own symbolic associations with colours, styles and textures, based our own lived experiences and unique psychological make-up. We’ve all felt that rush of confidence when we put on our favourite clothes, even if the colours are muted and the design simple.
Ultimately, “dopamine dressing” isn’t anything new, it is simply the natural result of good clothes, of having a strong sense of personal style and dressing in alignment with yourself and your values. Question why you feel compelled to shop, and try to identify the signs you are buying something impulsively. We have to become more mindful of our shopping habits and consider the future of our garments. To truly create a positive relationship with fashion, it is essential that we find value within the beautiful stories behind our clothes.
Header Image / Designer: Joao Maraschin / Photographer: Laura Aguilera
Cada vez mais as pessoas se deslocam aos mercados de troca de roupa. Estes já não são eventos desconhecidos como eram outrora, talvez isto se justifique pelo facto de nos dias de hoje “estar na moda” seguir um estilo de vida mais sustentável. Seja por “estar na moda” ou não, o que é certo é que quem os frequenta reduz o seu impacto.
Mas que tipo de ambiente se encontra num Swap Market? Que tipo de roupas e em que estado aparecem? E mais importante, o que se faz à roupa que não “vai viver feliz a sua vida”? Estas são as questões que pretendo desenvolver a partir da minha experiência no Swap Market que a Fashion Revolution Portugal realizou no passado mês de Setembro.
Check In, Check Out – Que comece o Swap Market!
Swap Market no Selena Garden
Deixar, Ponderar e Levar são as três tarefas que ocorrem na mesa do Check In e Check Out. Deixar, esta é uma das tarefas dos participantes do mercado. Neste Swap Market a Fashion Revolution convidou os participantes a trazerem no máximo 10 peças de roupa, mas é nesta pequena tarefa que a situação se começa a complicar.
Alguns participantes demonstraram serem incapazes de trazer apenas 10 peças. Recordo-me de estar na mesa com a minha colega e de ver tanto uma senhora idosa mais a sua neta a chegarem com dois sacos cheios de roupa, como duas participantes a quererem deixar à força o seu número excessivo de peças.
Estas situações são exatamente aquelas que pretendemos evitar e as que mais nos assustam. Se os participantes trazem sacos cheios de roupa isso significa que quando estavam a selecioná-las não refletiram sobre cada uma delas. Não olharam para a história da peça, nem para a sua história em conjunto com a peça, simplesmente pegaram naquilo que já não queriam, que estava a encher o armário e levaram para o mercado, para que deste modo outras pessoas, neste caso a Fashion Revolution Portugal, resolvessem o problema.
Mas o propósito dos Swap Markets não é lidar com o volume imenso de roupas que as pessoas já não querem. O propósito é fazer com que as tuas roupas que estão em bom estado, e que já te fizeram feliz possam vir a ser reutilizadas e não desperdiçadas, e ainda fazerem outras pessoas felizes. Portanto, quando fores a um Swap Market leva apenas peças com qualidade igual àquela que gostarias de lá encontrar.
E isto leva-nos para a Ponderação, tarefa realizada pelos membros do Fashion Revolution Portugal. Neste mercado os participantes levaram uma enorme variedade de peças desde calças, vestidos, saias, camisolas, casacos e até calçado e acessórios. Além disso, não houveram só roupas para o género feminino, desta vez fomos também brindadas com várias peças masculinas, mas claro que as “jóias da coroa” foram as relíquias vintage que uma avó trouxe (vestidos lindos, feitos à mão) e as peças da última estação de marcas de fast fashion. Portanto, como podes ver foi um mercado repleto de artigos interessantíssimos.
Voltando à Ponderação, quando as peças chegam à mesa do Check In cada uma delas é avaliada de modo a que só se possa encontrar nos charriots peças com qualidade. Parece uma tarefa fácil, certo? Mas não o é.
A minha colega analisou minuciosamente as peças para ver o nível de borboto, se tinha nódoas, se a cor estava desbotada, se os fechos funcionavam e tantos outros pormenores. Muitas vezes tinha de pesar o valor da peça pelo defeito que esta trazia. Recordo-me de uma participante dizer constantemente que uma t-shirt apesar de estar desbotada tinha que ser aceite por que tinha sido muito cara, ou de outra afirmar que uma nódoa saia facilmente com um produto específico. E claro, o trabalho da minha colega era redobrado quando ela tinha de ajudar quem levou mais do que 10 peças a escolher aquelas que estavam em melhor estado.
São inúmeras as histórias que os participantes contaram acerca das suas roupas durante esta tarefa, mas mais importante do que partilhar estas histórias é referir que é também durante esta tarefa que alguns participantes se tornam rudes, quando veem que alguma das suas peças é rejeitada. Muitos fazem má cara e referem que nós (Fashion Revolution) podemos ficar com a roupa e mandá-la fora porque eles já não a querem. Novamente, o propósito do Swap Market não é mandar roupa para o lixo, é fazer precisamente o oposto, é fazer com que as roupas durem o maior tempo possível. Se a tua peça já não está em condições, não a leves para o Swap Market, procura pelas soluções mais adequadas para o seu final de vida.
Após a ponderação as peças são aceites e são colocadas noutra mesa, para depois serem dispostas nos charriots, mas esta tarefa também não é fácil. Lembro-me de ver vários participantes a perscrutar as peças que estavam nessa mesa e de pedirem aos membros do Fashion Revolution, que estavam encarregues dessa tarefa, se lhes podiam dar algumas dessas peças. Às vezes era como se o Swap Market se torna-se numa competição na qual o vencedor era aquele que ficasse com o melhor “modelito”.
Passando ao Levar, esta é a tarefa em que as roupas vão “viver as suas vidas felizes”, como me disse a minha colega. Durante esta tarefa pude observar um caso muito interessante, diria até que foi de entreajuda, uma vez que duas participantes, ao verem que uma terceira tinha excedido o número de peças que poderia levar, juntaram-se e entre si levaram as peças que a terceira queria para que deste modo esta as pudesse levar para casa. Porém, foi também aqui que percebi que raros são os participantes que levam para casa o mesmo número de peças que trouxeram, o que acaba por gerar um problema para quem organiza este tipo de eventos, na medida em que têm de lidar com o volume de roupa não adquirida.
Foi rara a vez em que a minha colega teve de responder a esta pergunta, apenas duas pessoas quiseram saber o que aconteceria às peças não levadas.
Não sei qual é a conduta nos outros mercados, mas nos da Fashion Revolution Portugal algumas peças vão para instituições carenciadas selecionadas pela equipa, outras são guardadas para serem expostas noutros mercados de troca. As roupas que não foram levadas neste último mercado viajaram até ao Swap Market que organizámos no Parlamento Europeu.
Da próxima vez que fores a um Swap Market lembra-te:
This is a guest blog post by Point Off View, an agency focused on digital communication and sustainable transformation.
Creative director and artivist Marina Testino has launched the #OneDressToImpress challenge to showcase what sustainability means for climate justice and gender equality. All by wearing the same sustainably sourced purple suit for the month of September, fashion month.
The challenge is not much different from her 2018 #OneDressToImpress – yet, the message a bit more complex: Testino aims to raise awareness around conscious consumerism as well as women empowerment. In other words, she is on a mission to cultivate and inspire audiences on how to be conscious with our closets in order to support climate justice and also denounce the existing gender gap within the fashion industry.
Using a forceful visual narrative, she targets what is beneath the surface: the immense 80% of young women working in the fashion world as well as those in the corporate and consumer side that don’t have a voice and are kept in the dark. Purple was chosen for the suit as it is historically associated with the fight for gender equality, representing justice and dignity.
The campaign shows that equality and sustainability are strongly intertwined and that they can only be achieved through a communion of purposes and spirits. It is imperative, now more than ever, that all those involved in the fashion industry, understand the vital importance of their roles and push for a change.
Cheap prices and overproduction of clothing are some of the reasons why the fashion industry is one of the biggest producers of waste in the world. Over 20% of what’s made ends up unconsumed and, therefore, thrown away. As we know, these tons of unused material will not simply disappear from the Earth’s surface but rather, will remain and grow if consumers don’t ask for a change. Because of old patterns and linear practices, fashion still produces higher than its demand, and we cannot afford this way of irresponsible waste anymore.
This Purple Edition tells us that there is no need to treat consumers as simply the destination of a product but rather the essential medium for a real change. Marina reminds us that the time has come for everyone to really start being conscious about what is going on around them, starting from a small milestone such as what we wear every day.
Wearing only this outfit for a whole month, she wants to provoke the fashion industry, raise awareness around its constant consumerist marketing and demonstrate how one suit can have endless uses. This campaign is sending the message that all of us can have our own #OneDressToImpress and that we should all take on this challenge and try to overcome preconceptions, awaken our creativity and remember that #LovedClothesLast.
This is a guest blog post by The OR Foundation, a movement for a justice-led circular economy. During Second Hand September, we shared a range of ‘Myth vs. Fact’ content unpicking some common misconceptions about the secondhand clothing trade. We also hosted a panel event, Solidarity in the Secondhand Supply Chain, featuring key stakeholders from across the industry to build constructive debate on the future of resale and recycling.
The global secondhand clothing trade is a supply chain. It is an expansive for-profit business network that represents the primary source of clothing for over half of the global population.
The secondhand clothing trade has long been marketed as charity, but it has always been a for-profit outlet for the Global North’s excess. Clothing is not given out for free to those in need. You might donate your clothing for free, but it still costs money to collect, sort, grade, stock, resell and transport secondhand clothing and the people investing money in those activities expect to make a profit in return.
Secondhand retailers in the Global North can only sell about 10-20% of what they collect in the country of consumption. Most of the clothing donated in the Global North will pass through multiple hands in multiple countries before ultimately being exported to the Global South where retailers purchase individual bales. Retailers in Kantamanto spend between $75-500 per bale, many taking out loans to purchase the clothing.
While you may look at the Made In tag on your clothing to define the ‘country of origin’, for many people in the Global South, the country of origin is the country from which the secondhand bale was exported. Just as there is a value chain of farms, mills and factories that participate in manufacturing new clothing, so too is there a chain of brands, consumers, charities, resale platforms, graders and exporters that make up the secondhand supply chain.
Today many brands are rebranding the secondhand clothing trade by using the language of “recycling” or “circularity”. Typically when people think of recycling they think of old garments being turned into new garments, but the majority of what is collected by most brands is simply diverted into the secondhand clothing trade, with the bulk of these items being exported to the Global South. Many garments are resold and upcycled through resale markets like Kantamanto, but nearly just as many become waste. Kantamanto sees 15 million garments a week, and 40% leave as waste. The clothing that is exported to secondhand markets in the Global South is not recycled into new textiles.
Framing the secondhand trade as either charity *or* recycling centres the perspective of the sender (the person giving away an item) and perpetuates an abstract, depoliticized narrative that confuses people and provides an excuse for overproduction and overconsumption. Understanding the secondhand clothing trade as a supply chain pushes us to ask the same questions of the secondhand trade that we ask of the new clothing trade, including questions about the labour involved. Questions like:
Understanding the labour involved in today’s system of recirculation is the first step in ensuring safe and dignified employment opportunities in the circular economy of the future.
The global secondhand clothing trade is a legacy of Colonialism and exists within the over-supplied chain of new fashion as an outlet for people to buy more new clothes.
Under colonial rule, Ghanaians were expected to conform to professional dress codes as defined by the British. In order to enter certain rooms, to get certain jobs, attend certain schools or to be considered a ‘modern global citizen’, Ghanaians had to forgo their local dress in favour of Western clothing, swapping out sustainably made kente for a shirt and tie. Colonialism created the conditions for conformity. Navigating oppressive colonial rules is a survival mechanism, not an expression of demand. Colonisers profited from those rules by selling hand-me-downs and importing used clothing. This evolved into the secondhand trade we know today.
The global secondhand clothing trade is supply-driven, not demand-driven. The type of garments and quality of clothing available to traders in the Global South is entirely dependent on the quality and care of clothing being produced, purchased, returned, worn and donated in the Global North. The supply-driven nature of the secondhand economy impacts everyone along the value chain, including resale platforms, consignment stores, charities, clothing collectors, graders and exporters in the Global North, but ultimately all of these actors can choose to pass less desirable clothing down the chain to importers and retailers in the Global South.
Generally, importers cannot order a container full of the exact bales that they want and they do not see the specific items they are purchasing. Importers have little negotiating power over what is shipped and they assume that up to ⅓ of the clothing on each container will be difficult to sell (eg. bedsheets, single-use tees and winter clothing) and will likely become waste.
No segment of the fashion industry accurately predicts demand, hence the existence of deadstock and unsold goods. Given the unpredictable nature of clothing donations, the resale economy cannot accurately predict stock levels. But Kantamanto has no outlet for its excess – it is the last link in the oversupplied chain.
Secondhand fashion and textiles have the potential to transform the industry for good, but at present, we are turning blind eye to the hidden actors in the supply chain. The people who sort, recycle and resell our unwanted clothes, and the often unjust systems that underpin their work. The garments that end up as waste in landfill, and the consequences of these rotting fashion mountains on the natural world.
It’s time for a more mindful approach to how we buy, sell, resell and recycle clothing
The oversupply of cheap secondhand clothing teaches people that clothing is disposable and primes people to become consumers of new fast fashion. The secondhand clothing trade is seen as an outlet for fashion excess and therefore must operate at the scale and pace of the new clothing industry. Secondhand clothing markets are overwhelmed with cheap fast fashion items. The never-ending supply of non-durable items drives down the perceived value of clothing.
Secondhand retailers struggle to invest in rehabilitating lower quality items, and must keep buying more low-quality clothing to pay off the losses from previous bales. Waste accumulates in the market and in the environment. It is a vicious cycle, one that teaches citizens that clothing is a disposable commodity.
The more the Global North floods the Global South with disposable clothing, the more prolific the attitude that clothing is meant to be cheap and disposable.
Low-quality garments become desirable when brands convince people that investing in convenience is more important than investing in quality. This is bad news for local independent designers and good news for foreign fast fashion companies looking to expand to new markets.
As more people enter the middle class in Ghana, they are ordering clothing from major global retailers, not shopping from local designers.
There is no evidence that the abundant supply of secondhand clothing in the Global North has slowed down the consumption and production of new garments, and there is no evidence that the exportation of secondhand clothing to the Global South has eliminated any desire for new clothing. Instead it has primed new markets to become consumers of fast fashion.
Fashion’s waste crisis is caused by the exploitation of workers and of resources. Disposable fashion is only profitable because the people who make our clothes are not paid a living wage and environmental damage isn’t factored into the price tag.
Fiber-to-fibre recycling is absolutely necessary, but any brand that attempts to blame fashion’s waste crisis on a lack of recycling infrastructure is greenwashing. Brands are not adequately investing in the textile recycling technologies that already exist, and it could also take years before these technologies are able to absorb a meaningful amount of fashion’s excess.
Recycling is not a silver bullet solution that offsets the overproduction of garments and the exploitation of everyone from garment workers to secondhand retailers. We can’t tackle fashion’s waste crisis if the majority of people working in fashion from factories to secondhand markets are indebted to the very system that is exploiting them.
Circular solutions could be the key to a more sustainable fashion industry. But any brand that prioritizes recycling over ensuring that the people growing, sewing, repairing, reselling and upcycling our clothes are earning a living wage is not interested in solving the problem. When brands continue to overproduce while paying lip service to circularity, they are not interested in solving the problem, they are interested in extracting profit from the problem.
The fashion system is built on waste and exploitation, but that waste is not factored into the price tag we see in shops and online stores. We stand for a fair and equitable fashion economy for the people paying the true cost.
Today, new clothing can be acquired for as little as used clothing, and the resale market is saturated with both new and “like-new” garments. This means that any small defect or sign of wear makes a garment less desirable and less profitable amid a sea of other options.
There are fewer high quality, made-to-last items in circulation, and with the rise of resale in the Global North, more of these items are being extracted from the flow of secondhand goods. This leaves secondhand graders and exporters in the Global South with more low grade items. Roughly 25% of the clothing that enters Kantamanto every week is single-use t-shirts from marathons, hen-dos, conferences and family reunions, many of them faded and stretched.
When retailers in Kantamanto open a bale, they assess the goods, sorting the clothing into four piles called selections. While retailers can sometimes end up with a bale that is completely spoiled due to mould or odour, most bales contain less than 6% trash. This means that 94% of every bale is deemed wearable by Kantamanto retailers. And yet 40% leaves as waste.
Why does so much secondhand clothing end up as waste? In Kantamanto there are two main reasons ↓
1. Kantamanto shoppers know that there is a never ending supply of goods coming through the market. With this in mind, many people buy only the first selection, which is “like new” and makes up only 18% of the average bale. If a retailer is out of first selection, the customer would rather come back the next day when there is a new bale than buy the remaining lower quality garments. Basically, one man’s trash is not another man’s treasure, it’s just trash, regardless of whether it is wearable or not.
2. Because of the decreasing quantity of first selection goods per bale, many retailers have less money to invest in rehabilitating lower quality garments (like a stained and stretched marathon t-shirt) through cleaning, ironing, dyeing, tailoring or upcycling. Instead, retailers have only one option to maintain cash flow — buy another bale. To make room for more stuff they have to get rid of old merchandise. People in need will pick over the waste piles at the end of the day, but there are still far more garments than can even be given away for free. Thus, wearable clothing goes to waste.
There is no market capable of absorbing the excess produced by the fashion industry. The secondhand clothing trade adds an important link to fashion’s supply chain, extending the life of billions of garments every year, but it does not close the loop. The only way to ensure that all garments reach their potential is to slow down production of new clothing and invest in the sharing economy to enable enhanced cleaning, mending, altering and upcycling of what already exists.