Sustainability and conscious fashion doesn't mean you can only wear one piece of clothing per year, preferably made out of recycled plastic, boring as the storyline of the 85th season of The Bold & The Beautiful and be afraid that it's not instagramable. Don't take it to the extreme, okay? Extremes are no good. Being a conscious, smart consumer means choosing a pair of pants based on more than just a price tag and the color of the season.
No time for bullshit or a sugarcoated message in a bedazzled bottle. We are fucking up. Humans are fucking up.
We want a lot, we want it cheap and we want it yesterday. That's a problem. A huge problem. Everything has a cost and if you're not willing to pay your share, someone else will have to do that in your place. It's simple really. If you see a cheap, silk blouse, for let's say 2,99$, it doesn't mean that its true cost is 2,99$. What it does mean is that somewhere in the beginning of the production process someone had to sacrifice a big share of their income, their health, their working environment, their safety, their morals to please you with a convenient price!
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other social media channels are not only a source of style inspiration, funny memes and #couplegoals photos of Jay Alvarrez & Alexis Ren. Unfortunately we also get to see the ugly truth. The horrible, devastating and sickening images that are being shared to create awareness. Whether it's a hidden camera footage straight outta sweatshop or a documentary on how sheep are being abused for their wool. Or how not only cows, but also dogs, are being skinned for a the next It Bag. How they live in the tiniest cages waiting to fulfill their destiny as a cool leather jacket you will only wear once, because you simply can't be seen twice in the same outfit #DivaDisasters.
"Oh, just don't look!"
Sure you can look away, unfollow a bunch of people who share their concern with their friends and think that some time soon someone will find a solution. Or you might just believe that the items you buy are special, that they are made out of an animal that was already very sick or dying and it would have been a waste otherwise. So basically you deserve a "Philanthropist of the year"-award.
I did look away a couple of times, switched the channel. But then I decided to not look away. And I looked. I cried. Felt really bad. And then decided to make changes.
And you know what? It feels so damn good!
I believe that the problem is not with the supplier, but that it is with the consumer, us. Consumers have more power than they know. If a consumer wants a shoe bargain galore, consumer will most definitely get one! You want real leather? 100% wool? Fine, soft cashmere, to keep you warm? For a price of a donut? Here you go! Don't worry, someone will manage to find a factory with three walls, half of a roof and a bunch of people who will do the work for a penny, or less, so your budget limitations won't keep you from compromising on quantity or quality!
I'm no expert, and I certainly don't have spies all around the globe who report back to me with the scoops on what is going on behind-the-scenes of all the fashion brands, high street or designer. But the problem is clear: the consumption is out of proportion and out of balance. And most of all, it's done randomly. How many people think twice about the sustainability of the supply chain of a fashion house or a brand? And how many ask themselves the right questions and look for information themselves, instead of waiting until it's all over BBC and Al Jazeera? We need to realise that in order to NOT destroy our home, we must open our eyes, educate ourselves and make better, smarter choices. Yes, compromises will have to be made. But are those compromises worse than the ones people in the sweatshops of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and other countries make? Is buying fewer, fairly priced items a bigger nightmare than seeing animals being mistreated as if they have no feelings, no understanding, no right to live a free life? Think about, let it sink in, mellow a little and then make a choice: continue as you were or inspire yourself & others to make conscious, sustainable choices!
It will not happen overnight. And we shouldn't expect perfection from one another. Informing each other on new and innovative ways of producing and consuming is a better way of creating awareness and positive change!
Make sure to watch this video by BoF featuring Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood. It has inspired me greatly and I hope it will inspire you too!