A Word on Fast Fashion

Early today I read a very interesting article on Slate.com (an excerpt from the now-on-my-reading-list book: Over-Dressed - the Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion) about what happens to our clothes once we are done with them.

For me, reading this was rather embarrassing.  Each time I clucked my tongue at the shame of all that waste, I was slapped in the face with memories of mountains - piles taller than myself - of clothes that I have discarded while still maintaining a full closet.  College sticks out as a notably shameful time.  

I admit that at one not-so-long-ago point in my life I saw my massive collection of clothes as a source of pride.  I appeased my guilt by donating most of my cast-offs to the thrift store rather than simply throwing them away.  I rationalized that if I didn't replenish my wardrobe with fresh items I would end up looking dated and that other people would both notice and care.  

Its hard to shake the fact that a massive wardrobe isn't only culturally acceptable ("can a woman ever have too many shoes?"), its also culturally possible with mark-down sales, outlet malls, and cute-n-cheap retailers (Forever 21, Target, etc).  These fashion retailers are designed to move consumers as quickly as possible to the next thing.  So, am I "expressing myself through what I wear" or simply "wearing what is currently in style"?

But I digress, the reason this article was lodged into my subconscious all morning was the point it made about where old clothes are the most useful.  To my surprise/disbelief/chagrin, its not in the thrift store.  Actually, my Tshirts would be better off in my crafting pile.  My clothes would stand a better chance of not simply becoming waste if I transformed them into something I found useful.

Buying clothes second-hand is a no brainier for me.  Keeping a minimal, functional closet is an on-going project of mine.  But, really evaluating what I'm letting go of is clearly "the next step".  Before I send a bag of couture to Goodwill, I need to ask myself 'can I do something with this?'  'Do I have a need that can be met somehow with this item?'  Disposal is unfortunately one of the responsibilities that comes along with ownership and - when it becomes a pain in the butt (like this) - can serve as a great motivation to acquire less.

1 comment:

  1. My Mom started volunteering at a shelter for abused women and their children, ever since I've donated my gently used clothes (that I won't repurpose) to them. At least those clothes will go to someone in need and won't end up shredded somewhere... are there any shelters in town that need donations? That might be another good way to give those clothes a 2nd life! Great Post!