On January 6, with the gift wrappers of the Kings Day body still present, the sales from Zara, the flagship of Inditex. Many savvy customers who had prepared their virtual shopping cart in advance to just click the buy button, they were disappointed. Some of the selected products were no longer available minutes after the start of the discount season. At the same speed, social media was filled with complaints and desperate messages from shoppers who ran out of their bargain-priced objects of desire. The traditional image of the ladies storming into The English Court To wipe out everything they caught with 20% less than their original price is now replaced by gifs, memes and angry tweets related to the bargain opportunity.
The damage that the unbridled rate of purchase of clothing causes to the environment and those who make it is the main theme of ‘Fair fashion. An invitation to dress ethically ‘, the essay that the veteran fashion and trend journalist Marta D. Riezu recently published in the collection New notebooks from Anagram. A job that wants to avoid the scolding of ‘fast fashion’ clients, because what it aims to do is provide information based on figures and evidence to call for reflection on how and what we buy and the consequences of our decisions. An eight-euro T-shirt carries labor in conditions of slavery, animal abuse and ecological damage of scandalous dimensions. A disaster that is further aggravated by its uselessness: We only use 20% of the clothes we buyexplains the author.
“The ‘fast fashion’ disaster is compounded by its uselessness: we only use 20% of the clothes we buy, according to the author”
But these data are not new. Who else and who less is aware of the ills of the fashion industry, no matter how much large corporations try to clean up their image with green marketing tricks also known as’greenwashing’. So what is the point of a new essay on the subject? A book that will not be put on sale at the entrance of shopping centers or next to the ‘best sellers’ of the hypermarket precisely, but on the thematic shelves of the bookstores to which those who already know what they are looking for go. .
“I asked myself that when I received the order from Anagrama. Responsible fashion is a debate that has been on the table at least since 2009, when the Copenhagen conference, and ‘sustainability’ has been a household word since the sixties. Those who work in the sector do not need this notebook. Those who ‘go’ out of fashion, either “, says Riezu to ‘The newspaper of Spain‘. “But look; the first edition of 5,000 copies sold out in a few weeks and I thought, tate, maybe this fashion thing matters to more people than I think. Especially because you talk about clothes, not trends. What fills their cabinets has not arrived there alone, there was a process of conscious choice ”.
“The only garment that does not pollute is the one that is not bought”, you can read in the book. The author advocates acquiring those that last for years, to compose cabinets with only what is necessary, to find out where, how, who and with what these clothes have been made. But those guidelines are not easy to follow. The labels that are sewn to the pants are not exactly a source of knowledge and the ‘made in’ it only responds to the place where the manufacturing process has been completed. The last stitches.
“The only garment that does not pollute is the one that is not bought,” the book reads
“Striving is heavy, just like saving and prioritizing and giving things up. It’s the first thing my parents taught me: Everything can not have. For good sense and for mental hygiene. If you allow yourself all the whims (expensive or cheap, those that are third) you end up not valuing anything, “he says. “It is fortunate to have been raised in a family that pays attention to quality, to choose, to invest your money well, to take care of and appreciate what you already have. Which is not my case, by the way. My parents were very down to earth but zero gourmets and little financial literacy. But with good sense you already have a long way to go ”.
Although it may be the easiest to overcome, laziness is not the only obstacle to the plan. Dressing in cheap clothes not only has to do with following trends, but with the possibility of choosing. Even with the basic necessities covered in a relatively loose way, it is not so easy to save for a coat made to measure with all the guarantees of work dignity or care for the environment. Purchasing power is key and so is time –Which in the end also translates into money– that can be invested in making a conscious purchase. If social class is a cross-cutting factor that determines all aspects of a person’s life, it will also do so in purchasing decisions.
“To a large extent, yes. There are people with money who buy really badly (the cliché of the new rich with bad taste), but money gives you options, and having options is like having open doors to leave if you feel like it. But I think — come on, I know it in the first person — that with a limited budget you can dress and feed wonderfully. I mention both industries (fashion and food) because they have both sent the same misleading message: cheap is okay. No, cheap is not always good. Cheap at whose expense: to strangle suppliers, workers? I don’t want to be part of that, “he says in the interview.
The sentimental education of discount
Rituals have a great weight in social behavior, although some go unnoticed or seem frivolous like ‘going to the sales’. For a reason, the image of the pushing at the door of the store from decades ago, the advertising posters at the bus stops and the radio spots continues to be repeated viciously. Are purchasing ceremonies a difficult obstacle to overcome?
The author maintains that “the generation of ladies-of-the-Cortinglés (whom I adore) is in extinction, for purely biological reasons. Do you see my niece going into sales there? Is that he does not even know what it is Bershka in physical mode, almost. She buys everything online because she studies and trains and she doesn’t have time ”. And predicts: “the street shop will continue to exist, but it will not be a temple of fun and social gathering as it was for our parents and grandparents. There will be a natural selection of businesses, and those that create an interesting and exciting dialogue with the customer will survive ”.
But at the same time that the problem of the consumption of fast clothes is situated in an age range “between 16 and 46 years old who buy very cheaply, throw unceremoniously and renew the wardrobe like a weather vane every quarter”, in the generations young people are also hope. “They incorporate into their lives all social debates and doubts with great naturalness and sagacity. It is enough that the conversation comes out in their environment to arouse their curiosity. Many teenagers have written to me on Instagram who have read the booklet and have been amazed at everything that is hidden from us. It would be brutal if a consumer education subject was incorporated from school, just as it is necessary to teach food, sexuality, emotion management, DIY, financial skills or digital protocol ”.
“It would be brutal if a consumer education subject was incorporated from school”
On the other hand, if all the coins have two sides, the sales could also be an opportunity to practice an investment exercise in durable and quality garments. A hypothesis to which the journalist responds: “it may be a good time to buy that hackneyed basics, the wardrobe, which is an older concept than the seashore but it works. The navy blue wool coat, the white shirt, some plain black ankle boots, etc. Something that may cost you expensive but that you can use for a long time, the garment for which you do the typical price calculation divided by years of use and you see that it is not so far-fetched. But the most important message of Fashion fair is that you have to stop buying. Urgently. That with what we have in the wardrobe (and what we can exchange with friends) we have plenty for years ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.