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  • Writer's pictureLee-Anne Carter

Shop your wardrobe: a sustainable fashion initiative

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

During the first lockdown of Covid19 I challenged myself to what I termed the #wardrobeslam – creating an Instagram page to track my progress. The name of the game was to utilize my wardrobe and re-create catwalk outfits using only items from my existing wardrobe. As isolation dragged on and on, I changed the challenge to just creating a new outfit every day from what I already had.

It turned out I had quite a lot.

The hope was maybe it would catch on as a community, where people would exchange images, thoughts and tips, empowering others to utilize what they already had, rather than the need - or should one say desire - to shop. Actually, the real hope was that maybe it would catch on as a mindset.

It didn’t.

Possibly as I - unfortunately - do not know how to utilize the incredible power of Instagram communities effectively enough (I struggle with this world of like for like and the many issues arising from social anxiety media surrounding it, and have read too much about click farms, and buying influence) and possibly because not that many people truly cared.

However, the statistics and numbers from my research as a forecaster that regularly tout sustainability as the imperative for the new generation would suggest otherwise. So, I thought perhaps the concept was in with a chance.

It wasn’t .

Here was the absolute perfect storm to get us thinking about what we actually needed, what was truly necessary. To get us to ponder what we were doing to the environment, the manifold travesties of fast-fashion, and the Frankenstein systems it had birthed, not to mention the negative aspects of greed and capitalism it had unearthed – and yet all it had seemed to do was compel many of us to buy more - online.

The sharp and relentless increases in the rise in on-line shopping during Covid19 had not only alarmed me. It had absolutely floored me. Italy, for example, saw a growth of 101% in online deliveries in March 2020, although I am sure a lot of these were possibly groceries and necessities as the country was in incredibly strict isolation – however the numbers rose across the globe.

I remember – as will so many others – the triumphant calls during the very early stages of lockdowns, the cries of we are all in this together, this is the big pause, the big reset. Now we will be forced to think about what we are doing to the earth, the environment – humanity itself. And within the month I also remember reading an article from the UK, about the rise in online shopping, and incredibly a story re a top-seller for a fast fashion chain being, wait for it… sequin bustiers.

The big question in the article was naturally: Who the hell needs a sequin bustier during a pandemic in strictly enforced isolation? This alarmed me – but not for the reasons you may think. I am all for individualisation, I sincerely applaud and think there should be so much more of it. If you want to wear undies on your head during lockdown - or at any time - then go for it, I say. What I did take umbrage to was that sequins are plastic and incredibly harmful to the environment, as well as the fact that our relentless desire to purchase remained undimmed. Even in the most difficult and challenging of times – unprecedented times in actual fact, when no-one knew where the world would actually end up – on a global scale shopping was on the rise. And for items that were definitely not necessities, or so it appeared.

It has been estimated according to a study from ClosetMaid in the US, that 12 % of our wardrobes are made up of new and unworn clothing, a staggering 57% is either too tight or too loose, and 21% unwearable for myriad reasons – trends, appeal etc - leaving only an estimated 10 % available to be worn.

Are we serious?

It appears so.

And so, as I continuously read about how 79% of Millennials are loyal to companies that care about sustainability, 54% of Gen Z are willing to pay more for sustainable products, or that nine in ten Millennials and Gen Z are overwhelmingly concerned about the human causes of climate change, with pollution (65 %), deforestation (53 %) and greenhouse gas emissions (46 %) I sincerely wonder how these figures all add up in relation to the ongoing and seemingly unrelenting increase in purchasing.

And there you have it: What we currently say and what we do, simply don’t add up.

In light of hoping to inspire people to perhaps truly put their money where their mouth is, I started the #wardrobeslam challenge. Which, as you will already know from the beginning of this piece was not a raging success. Yes, my 25 followers (no, I am not joking) and I had a lot of fun. But I don’t think 25 people is really going to change the world now is it?

Eighty-three #wardrobeslam images later lockdown ended. And so did my #shopmywardrobe initiative.

But what I learnt will remain forever.

With every well-meant intention in the world, action is the only defining factor.

That, and I have far too many clothes.

If you are interested – check out @stylinsoul21 or the hashtag - #wardrobeslam - and maybe, just maybe we can start to get a community together that inspires each other to shop your wardrobe (at least a little more than we currently do!)

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