I recently stumbled across this article by Brooklyn based writer, Elizabeth Cline. She discusses the rise in cheap, mass produced clothing and the way this has altered our collective attitude towards fashion.
While in the past, clothing was so expensive that for most women it was more affordable to buy the fabric, buy a pattern and sew their own clothes. But now, take a walk down your local shopping mall and you’ll see shop after shop bursting with cheap, mass produced clothes all designed with the latest trends in mind. Fashion has never been more affordable. In some ways this is a good thing. Fashion is now accessible to pretty much everyone, not just the wealthy. But unfortunately, fashion has also never before been so disposable.
I think that many of us have developed an attitude of desiring copious quantities of clothing, regardless of the quality. The cheaper the clothes are the better, because the cheaper they are the more we can buy. Many people simply don’t care if their trendy new purchase only lasts for a few wears. It doesn’t matter because it was cheap and can just be replaced with something new. According to this article we own more clothes than ever before. (The statistics in the article refer to American women. I would be interested in finding some stats about us ladies in Australia, although I imagine our attitudes are similar to that of our American counterparts).
The cheaper the clothes, the more we can have. Quality and versatility are rarely considerations anymore. I’m just as guilty of this as the next budget conscious lover of fashion, but I’m starting to really question my attitude.
I feel like I’ve been really challenged in this area lately and will be sharing my thoughts and discoveries with you more in the coming months, so I’ll only touch on this briefly now. My issues with disposable fashion centre mainly around two points: the environmental impact and the social impact. Disposable fashion isn’t made to last so it gets thrown out and ends up in landfill. This is not cool. As for the social impact, the perceived value of clothing is not what I believe it should be. When we see a rack full of bargain dresses it’s too easy to not even consider the people who sat at a sewing machine to make it, and may be getting very little money for their work. It’s a tricky issue because it’s hard to know which brands and retailers are treating their workers ethically. Perhaps I should be making more informed purchases and be striving for quality over quantity and buying less, but buying better?
Anyway, at this point I’m trying to re-evaluate the way I approach fashion and found Cline’s article to be very interesting and thought provoking. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the link again.
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