Everyone can do simple things to make a difference, and every little bit really does count.” – Stella McCartney
*on my soapbox, consider yourself warned
April 24th is the 2nd anniversary of the Rana Factory Collapse, an eye opening tragedy which cast light upon the human cost that results from the frenetic pace of the fashion industry. I am noticing a trend of myself getting a little misty eyed and idealistic each time this circles around (look out world), but also generally kicking myself for getting distracted from raising a stink the other 11 months of the year. I try.
I don’t suppose I will see any mention of this anniversary in any traditional news sources. (BOF –I love you, don’t change, but you don’t count) However, do we really ever see mentions to the masses of humanitarian causes once the afterglow fades from the drama of the corresponding tragedy? Our collective ADHD is not helping here.
The timing could not be more perfect for the minimalist trend to really take off, but it still seems to mostly be celebrated by a devoted niche group. The challenging part of fashion in general these days is the decentralization of media, and the over-saturation of style influences. Depending on where you absorb your style suggestions from (local friends, fashion print media, online blogs etc) the clothing you covet & consume will vary. There are definite thumbs-up sides to this, such as being able to find inspiration & common ground online with people who share your style. Thank you Pinterest. It comes with a dark side, our fickle nature is creating an accelerating predisposition towards all things disposable. Hello, fast fashion. (Looking at you H&M, Forever21, Zara et al.)
Most conscientious garment choices are still primarily represented by basics (Stella McCartney’s ready to wear label being a prime example of the exception to this standard). Real talk, it makes sense, as wild and crazy garments that only stay in fashion for a single season are characteristically NOT eco. American Apparel used to hold the torch for ethically (American) made basics, but it is notoriously hard to shop their stores. Too many turbo-hipsters in scrunchies & mannequins with bush to focus on the fashion I guess. Next time you wear out your favorite black T, consider Everlane. Their tagline “Modern Basics, Radical Transparency” says it all. Expect well made pieces with a meaningful story. (real talk, they even tell you the true cost of the item you are looking at. on point.)
I truly believe much of what is missing with our current consumption patterns is the story of how these items got to us. We are all guilty of loving that much more when we get to tell someone that fabulous [insert produce here] was picked up at the local farmers market (#instabragging).
I know you do it, at least internally.
The job of marketers is to tell the story of the brand or item we are consuming, what if we told not only the items story, but it’s history. Would we be so quick to wear an item if we knew it was made by humans in substandard life conditions, or to eat a fast food item if we had to face the less than appetizing story of how it came into our hands? Would we choose the item with the story if we were presented with two otherwise identical choices? One of the most poignant aspects of the digital age we live in, is how easy it is to share ideas. Imagine we spent half the time we currently burn consuming celebrity culture instead on actively talking or learning about issues we care about (I don’t expect your soapbox passion to be the same as mine) what would the world look like?
Are we too distracted to care? I literally, can’t even imagine. See what I did there? I will continue this conversation tomorrow in my own way, when I will be wearing a dress that I know very well who it was made by. Me.