The Fashion Change Maker- is that you?

It’s easy to throw a lot of flak and criticism at an industry that we all love to hate and yet love. The world surely would not be a very interesting place to be in if not for ‘fashion’ and the stalwarts of this multi-billions dollar industry.
Often tagged as ‘excess’, ‘hedonistic’, ‘overtly sexual’ and at times ‘inhumane’ and the media that follow clothing/fashion brands/founders all across the globe, who are constantly mired in lawsuits of various kind; the fashion industry is a full blown theatrical, dramatic and evoking masterpiece.

Conscious collections and Corporate social responsibilities have now become the main leads in this play of negative publicities that seem to follow ‘fashion’ far greater than its twitter fans.
But what does this all mean to the ‘Conscious consumer’ living in a world of image-driven fashion culture? What must you know if you want to be a fashion ‘change maker’ rather than just one of the million or so followers and worshipers of this industry? What must you avoid, what must you be aware of?
1-  The ‘out of trend’ Fast Fashion- The fashion industry is now moving so fast, versus the classic fashion seasons that used to be evident and clear a decade ago. This means that what you are wearing to work on Monday morning or on a Friday night is already on it’s way out of fashion.  It’s hard to keep up! This is what the big boys of high street fashion across the world want you to believe. Topshop, for instance, introduces 400 styles each week online. Welcome to the world of Fast Fashion where they keep on churning out style after style to keep us buying and buying!   (A recommend good read on this- ‘Overdressed:The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion’ by Elizabeth Cline.)
However, being a ‘Conscious consumer’ does not mean I must not buy that purple-tribal-printed-harem-pants-currently in fashion-which-can-be-teamed-up-with-anything-at-all-and can-be-part-of-my-wardrobe-for-years-to-come.  Experimentation is a fundamental (and fun) part of fashion and expressing oneself, but it’s just good be aware of how the fashion industry’s set up, and yet enjoy all that it has to offer.
2-  Quality first- Can you list 5 fashion items that have made an impact on you and have stood the test of time in your wardrobe? I bet most of you can’t.  Why?  Because sadly these days often quantity is preferred over quality in this world of Fast Fashion. Forgive me for repeating a phrase you must have heard at least once from the older generations, whilst growing up: ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’.  Buying clothes and accessories of a certain quality will always last for years and will always have their own distinctive style that no China-made rip offs can match up to. Parisian women have got it down to a fine art.  They are minimalist in their style, famously known for owning very few clothes and accessories but experts at mixing and matching. Typically, these few clothes are designer and often classics that will never really go out of fashion.  (Another good read- Isabelle Thomas & Frederique Veysset, authors of “Paris Street Style, A Guide to Effortless Chic).
Here’s to Timeless Fashion rather than Fast Fashion.
3- Buy Sustainable/Eco friendly- Buying sustainable and eco-friendly fashion from brands and boutiques rather than mass market is a much more interesting choice.  Nothing worse than buying that new dress on the high street only to find everyone else wearing exactly the same thing!  You will always find there is more character and even a story that goes into the making of each garment. A personal favourite of mine are vintage brands especially when I travel to places like London or NYC. Local artisans from various countries always inspire me greatly, and I love to pick up clothes and accessories which I know are locally sourced and indigenously manufactured through the fashion chain.

Red Sister Blue Handloom
4-  Discounts or Low Quality- If you think you’re getting a great deal when big high street fashion brands are selling you those hugely discounted clothes or you’re buying a label for a fraction of the price from a ‘factory outlet’…then think again. The reality is that these outlets shake hands with designer brands to put their labels on to cheaply manufactured clothing for a percentage of revenue. And the great discounted top you picked up is so low in quality that it is sure to fall apart.
5- Styles made to come undone- These Fast Fashion giants (you know them!), are primarily concerned with their ROI’s and not the quality or the loyalty. Their revenue models are built on the fact that the consumer will pick a new trend next week, so the clothes that you have bought this week are sure to come undone after a few washes or a couple of wears. Haven’t you noticed already? Small markups, and selling tons of quantity is the name of the game here.  Mass market.
6-   Inhumane labour- We all know about the tragic Bangladesh episode that has yet failed to move any of these million dollar fashion brand owners into conscious actions. Millions from some of the poorest parts of the planet live a hand-to-mouth existence under tyrannical laws and they are the ones who have sewn, beaded, and sequined that garment that you just bought from your favourite brand without so much as a thought. These millions are also mostly under-age impoverished children with their wages not even a fraction of your weekly coffee money.

Red Sister Blue Back Beauty
That’s all folks!
As a sign off, I would like to add – do not put undue pressure on ‘you’ to fit or live up to a certain ideal of what it means to be fashionable or stylish.  Nor what it is to be ethical and conscious when it comes to fashion.

This blog post was simply designed to get us all to stop – just stop – for a second and see the bigger picture and not get sucked in or lose ourselves in this industry.  This is the era of change.  Step out from the herd and be a change-maker all you sisters out there~!