Pictures: “Not made in China” campaign in South Africa to support locally made clothes instead of cheap fast fashion and to raise awareness on the impact of cheap imports on the local industry.

The clothes we wear are our second skin. They are part of our chosen identity. They fundamentally define part of who we are and who we wish to portray to the world. Every day we make decisions about what we want to wear and what we want to buy. But do we stop to question the story behind the clothes we wear?

Layered on our skin are stories and journeys: designers that made decisions, resources that were harvested for our clothes, hands that transformed fabric into clothes, chemicals that were used to shape and colour the clothes, packaging of these items and transportation to the stores were they are bought.

The fashion industry is a 2.5 trillion- dollar industry. 40 million people in the world work at garment factories and 85% of people working in the fashion industry are women. It is an industry with some of the lowest paid workers in the world. It is an industry that has moved from a yearly four seasons fashion focus to a 56 week turn-over of clothes and style. It has given rise to the concept of fast fashion. Clothes are produced quicker and cheaper than ever before. Yet, there are costs which are not taken into consideration by many. There is a cost that does not reflect on the price-tags of clothes. The cost to human lives and cost to the environment.

The fashion industry is the 2nd biggest water polluting industry in the world, right after the agricultural industry. It is also the 2nd biggest air polluter and responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The production of fibre is responsible for 18% of pesticides and 25% of insecticides used worldwide. In the world 80 billion pieces of new clothing are consumed every year. However, 85% of textiles are send to back to landfill each year. Yet, 95% of clothing that is thrown away could have been re-used, upcycled and recycled. Needless to say – the fashion industry has given rise to a new dimension of consumerism.

It has become clear that we need a FASHION REVOLUTION.

We need to realise that there is a human being behind every piece of clothing that we wear. We need to acknowledge that there is an environmental cost on clothes and fashion that is destroying our planet.

The fact that workers are dying for fast fashion is criminal. The fact that so many have to suffer for the profit of a few is criminal. The fact that our planet and future are being destroyed is criminal. Inaction is criminal.

We are the ambassadors of the clothes we wear. They are our second skin. The story and impact they have is our story too.

So, I challenge you – find out more, be curious and be critical. Watch the documentary “The True Cost”. Speak to people about it. Use your voice.

Become an agent of change.

(Stats and information by: https://truecostmovie.com/ )

ACTION PLAN – What can you do?

  • Find out the story behind the clothes you wear:
    • Know what brands you are supporting.
    • Know what brands you are an ambassador of.
    • Know the true cost of your clothing.
  • Reduce your consumption:
    • Ask yourself “do I really need this?”
    • “How many times will I wear it?”
    • “Do I need to buy it new?”
  • Buy second-hand clothes and support thrift stores & vintage clothing sales:
    • So much clothing already exists in the world. There are so many items that are barely worn or end up unused in landfill.
    • Thrift stores, online apps and clothing swaps are a great way to create a more circular economy.
  • Support a circular economy model:
    • T-shirts and jerseys made from plastic bottles instead of polyester.
    • Seek out initiatives where you can rent out clothes for whatever function you need it without buying something new that you will only wear once.
  • Organic cotton and fair-trade fashion:
    • If you really cannot find what you are looking for make sure you buy responsibly.
    • Beware of cheap produce and question how much money went to the workers.
  • Support your local initiatives:
    • Fast fashion has resulted in cheap produce from Asian countries which is having a massive effect on local markets.
    • The commissioning of factories to developing Asian countries has had a massive impact on worker and the environment there.
  • Recycle old clothes and fabric into something new:
    • What about making a scrunchie or hair-tie from a torn t-shirt?
    • Refunction old fabric or socks as cleaning towels.
    • Making sure you donate or give clothes you don’t need for a re-purpose or to a thrift store or charity shop.
Picture: me in a 5Pound dress from charity shop – repurposed into a cocktail dress for a Christmas function

This just goes to show that you do not need to buy new clothes, even if you are going to more formal events. Remember caring is cool and there are some pretty amazing clothes in this world that already exist just waiting to be found and repurposed by you!

Resources and links: https://truecostmovie.com/

My podcast about fashion and Fashion Revolution Week: https://anchor.fm/la-weimann/episodes/Fashion-Revolution-Week-2019-how-can-we-revolutionise-the-fashion-industry-and-why-do-we-need-to-e3qo1f