As I share part of my life on Instagram, thinking about outfits has become part of the game. I take inspiration from my travels, friends, magazines and the online community, of course. What I have realised is that most of the fashion bloggers rarely wear items or entire outfits twice. It seems that they have an endless closet. What most people fail to see is that they receive most of the items for the shooting and then return them. Of course, the more outfits and brands they share, the better for their own pocket.
Recently, I caught myself thinking about a dress I love to wear. I posted a picture of my trip to Chiangmai where I wore it. When I was packing for another weekend trip, I thought: “I actually have worn it recently in Chiangmai. What will it look like on my Instagram feed and what will followers think if I wear the outfit that often?” I immediately realised how absurd that thought was. Why would we not wear outfits multiple times? This morning, I passed by a a billboard in Vienna with a pile of clothes and the answer to my silly thought: “6 Months in Trend, 100 Years as Garbage”. This is our problem.
Fashion has become an extremely fast-moving industry. Fall-Winter, Spring-Summer and Cruise Collections keep fans busy throughout the year. It seems that there is not one “it”-item, there are hundreds. And bloggers and influencers keep showing us their new favourites.
It does not matter if it is the Louis Vuittons and Guccis or discount fashion – we are told to keep following fast. Once a trend is over (usually after six months), the items are doomed to rot in our closets, given to charities in the best case or thrown away in the worst – and probably most likely – case.
I also observed that many fashionistas seem to go for extremely cheap clothing items – usually less than 50 Euros – and then queue up for hours to spend their savings on a Louis Vuitton or Chanel bag. I always wondered if they do not realise that they will still look cheap – even the expensive bag will not change the look. A friend of mine who works in the fashion business had the answer: “Think about it, young girls, for example, dress up for a night at a club. It’s dark there, so you won’t see if the fabric is cheap or the cut is bad. But you can see a logo on a bag.” Once that cheap item has surpassed its two or three visits to a club, it will be thrown away. It has served its purpose and is not trendy anymore. Stylish new outfits are so cheap, it does not really matter.
But what happens to all these piles of clothing? Polyester takes decades, if not centuries to degrade. There are alternatives – fibre made from wood – which would be completely biodegradable. But it cannot compete with polyester and the likes price-wise. And because of the chase after every single trend, people are reluctant to pay more. We started to ban plastic bags and straws, but we still go for fast fashion. Furthermore, if you wash polyester and similar fibres, small plastic particles go into the water and it is almost impossible to clean the water from them. Is following fashion trends really worth sacrificing our environment?
I long decided against it. I was sick of the cheap fabrics and trendy cuts and decided to invest in longer lasting items. Furthermore, you will keep seeing me in the same outfits. Firstly, because I like them. There was a reason why I bought them and I like to buy pieces which will last for a long time. Secondly, I see this as my contribution to reduce waste. Even thought it may be tempting to buy that cute top which is really trendy, I think twice if I will really wear it next year, in two years or even in five.
Maybe we all manage to change the mindset of the fashion industry. My first step was to unfollow all the bloggers who have been telling their follower base to buy hundreds of bags “they cannot live without”. My second step was a wardrobe assessment and donated items I have not worn in over a year. And maybe a small gesture of seeing the same items on our Instagram feeds can make a difference and inspire others to do the same.
Do you follow trends? Or are you more into classic styles? Or do you mix? Have you repeated outfits on your Instagram feed? I am curious to read your sustainable fashion hacks!