Fashion and identity are closely linked.
Your personality is often reflected through your fashion and style choices and the choices you make when purchasing a new outfit, often have a wider impact on the world we live in now and in the future.
Coronavirus hit like a meteorite at the beginning of 2020 and ‘plunged the world into a crisis like no other’. Globally, thousands of people died, healthcare systems were on the brink of collapse, people were left unemployed, and as the number of Coronavirus cases increased, the stock market saw huge falls.
But what’s fashion got to do with it?
The emerging pandemic threw the fashion industry into a crisis. During lockdown, consumers did not have a purpose to purchase new clothing and furthermore, were unable to visit shops where 80% of people buy their clothes from (as opposed to buying online). This resulted in global giants in the fashion industry cancelling colossal orders from their manufacturers, (often based in 3rd world countries), to avoid paying for stock that they were unable to sell; impacting thousands of employees in the fashion and retail industry.
So what can you do to help? Here’s our 5 top tips.
ONE: If your dress costs less than your morning coffee and breakfast pot from your local café, ask yourself why! Many garment workers globally are underpaid, often forced to work in poor conditions and for long hours. Not long ago it was reported that some clothing companies were paying their staff £3.50 an hour in the UK, where minimum wage is £8.72! It’s appreciated large companies benefit from bulk buying and economies of scale, but that’s not an excuse to underpay employees at the cost of producing cheap garments.
TWO: Do your research. Does the brand you’re buying from tell you where their garments are made? What conditions their employees are working in? If they don’t, ask yourself why, or even better, ask the company as a customer to explain!
THREE: If you need new garments, invest well. Quality should always be higher on your priority list than quantity. Invest in capsule collections and high quality, handmade garments which often last longer. Timeless designs ensure the garments you’re wearing are always stylish and fashionable.
FOUR: Try to avoid buying more than you need. You might think you’re doing a good deed by returning your unused items, but often companies have limits on which products they return into stock. Items under a certain value, are often sent to landfill (despite being unused) because the cost of processing the item back into stock, is greater than the price the garment was originally sold at – ludicrous!!
FIVE: Support small, local businesses. The boutiques, the bespoke designers, the local manufacturers, the charity shops. Source things closer to home, you’re not only supporting a small, local business, you’re supporting your local economy and helping to reduce carbon emissions by avoiding importing items from overseas.
Money is power.
The fashion industry is shaped by the way you spend your hard-earned cash. If consumers continue to shop from fashion brands who produce cheap, throwaway garments, they will keep making them, exploiting their workers and harming our environment.
Change isn’t going to happen overnight, however if consumers start to think about fashion choices and invest in the companies who are actively trying to make changes to the industry for the better of the planet, then we might, together, be able to make a change.
Love, YANA x
Written by Charlotte & Sophie Wilson