“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.” – The True Cost
Holy crap, at that rate are we literally snacking on our clothes these days?
This intense quote along with my love for fashion and money (making, saving and investing it!) pretty much sums up why I went through the trouble of turning my closet upside down and putting it all down on an excel sheet; after all my clothes are an investment worth analyzing and tracking. Also, I figured my personal closet is the best place to begin investigating fashion industry’s social and environmental impact as I am no saint when it comes to adding to the current problem because even after learning much about fashion’s negative impact, it is difficult to give so many F’s as a consumer, when you are already limited on time and money.
Not at all to my surprise, turns out my current closet is chockablock full of man-made fabrics like polyester, viscose and elastane with minimal traces of great natural fabrics like silk, cotton, wool and cashmere. As a matter of fact, over 80% of my current closet (excluding accessories) consists of man-made fabrics and more often, these are items I purchased for an event or a night out. These are also the items with the highest cost-per-wear (CPW = Total cost/ Number of times wear it), while items made from natural fabrics have the lowest CPW in my closet. I am not at all saying that natural fabric is better than man-made because truth is as noted by Deborah Drew and Genevieve Yehounme in “The Apparel Industry’s Environmental Impact in 6 Graphics” all garment production is resource intensive and has an environmental impact. What I am saying is, in tracking my closet, I realized that the items consisting of natural fabrics fared better in terms of wearability after washes/dry cleans and style (probably because I bought them with a long-term outlook).
Fashion has and always will sell desire; it is doing a damn good job of selling desire at an even faster pace thanks to Social media, but other than adding a rhinestone here, or bringing back off the shoulder back in again, does fashion truly innovate? Unfortunately, right now I lack the right resources and experience to elaborate on this. However my opinion is and according to Stella McCartney:
I am not certain if innovation is the solution, though it may be sooner than later. I am certain however that it is not the only solution. Because right now a problem exists and with so many clothing labels, thanks to e-commerce’s cheap and easy barriers to entry there are very few players (Everlane, MUD Jeans, AmourVert etc. to name a few) attempting to change the game. I don’t want fashion to stop selling me desire, I would just like for it to start adopting new ways of producing garments that are more transparent and less costly for the environment.
My personal solution to the problem is my tagline for this blog. I plan on curating style through the things I own, some vintage buys and things I will borrow/rent because there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do fashion ethically. In my opinion it is a huge ongoing issue that begs innovation in the future, but nothing will change unless we are a little more introspective and change the way we buy and consume fashion. So for now, What’s in your closet?