“Feasting on Fashion” was on my mind last year as I thought about my excessive shopping patterns and how unconscious I’ve been although I am aware of the exploitation of factory workers and the earth. I was feasting gluttonously on fashion at the expense of people. I preferred to blindly purchase things that I wanted so badly and justified that I needed it and did not take the time to research and learn about the clothes, the people and the brand. Was it really an enjoyable feast? The more I truly reflected I felt a lot of shame, guilt, hypocrisy and hopelessness.
More recently, I’ve had questions about what it means to be a conscious consumer. What IS sustainable fashion? Is it even possible? Will my choices and purchases even make a difference? How can I be a part of the change in fashion as more cries are made for justice in the fashion industry? How can the mass consumers be a part of that fashion change?
The reality is I can’t make BIG industry-shifting changes. I’m not a designer who can create clothes that are compassionate, mindful and kind. I’m not a policy maker who can implement policies for fashion companies, contractors and garment factory owners to create just working environments, partnerships and guidelines. I’m not an engineer who can build innovative technology that can save us water and energy from the mass production of clothes. I am merely one single voice of the masses. But, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed I stopped and read a beautiful quote from Shawah Yeh, an editorial director of Modern Weekly Group in China.
I don’t believe that mass has to be mindless or mainstream.
Although I can’t make huge changes I am a voice in the masses and I don’t have to be mindless or mainstream. To a certain degree the designers, companies and other top-name people influence the fashion industry tremendously. But, also how the masses move (purchasing behavior, trends, styles, etc.) influences the direction of the industry. If there is no demand for non-ethical, non-sustainable and non-conscious consumerism by the majority then there will be no need for a supply of it either. Right? And I know this is a VERY fluffy idea that would take a lot of time, effort, energy and people.
But it just got me thinking and thinking. And I’ve dreamed too long to do this and now want to take action! So I’m embarking on this adventure to discover sustainable fashion, to talk about shopping choices, to celebrate new ideas, creators and brands that are on the same mission as I am and to learn more. It will be uncomfortable, painful at times, sad and frustrating, but it will also be creative, fun, adventurous and encouraging to pursue good. I can’t guarantee that I will change the masses (though I dream of doing it) but if I am changed then that is more than enough for me.