Today we touch on the last part of this series, the one you’ve been waiting for, consumption. What does it mean to be an Eco Fashion consumer? How does the table turn when you’re shopping for clothing with a conscience? Today we’ll explore these questions to develop a forum for understanding how an Eco Fashionista gets his or her green on!
Part Three Consumption
I’m not sure when the exact moment hit that I decided to become an Eco Fashionista. It was certainly back in the days when thick, neutral toned hemp and organic cotton were the only things you could find on the handmade racks of the local hippie clothing store. I had always been into vintage, getting my most prized outfits from local rummage and estate sales and thrift stores. But I do remember the instant that I saw the first ever Eco Fashion garment that was beautiful. It was at an art gallery, that was hosting a collection of local designers, and the piece was in the window. I walked by the exhibit, interested to see green and clothing together in one sentence in the description of the show, and then was transfixed by the garment. It was a long ethereal white dress, with an accentuated empire waist and simple lace detailing on the straps. The way the curator staged it, among a backdrop of a cotton field, it looked as though it had been plucked from a cast member of A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. It sang!
Walking into that gallery, was like entering a new world of potential for the fusion of my passion for fashion and the environment. Finally, someone had created a line of clothing that was not only structurally and visually beautiful, but was constructed out of materials that were ethically minded. This was the beginning of a transformation in my understanding of the practice of consumption, as it provided a way for me to support a local, ethical artist and be clothed in a garment that reflected my style as much as my beliefs.
This transformation, of what could now be labeled as cause-sumerism is a concept that has grown across the United States and enabled Eco Fashionistas to have a wide world of fashion and style open to them. However, with this evolution of fashion, we see a rise in the concept found in much of corporate environmentalism, Greenwashing. This is the idea that a large company, let’s pick on Wal-Mart for example, can promote large-scale environmentally friendly practices for marketing purposes. However, when examined there is a question to the validity of the holistic environmental benefits of said practices. This applies to Eco Fashion in as much of a complicated way as it would to any method of sustainable adaptation of a product that currently exists in a less environmentally friendly iteration in the marketplace today.
High Fashion is an art form, however there are many branches of the fashion tree. Quick fashion, H&M, Target, Forever 21 being some stores you can find it, is one example of one branch of fashion, that is partially aware of the potential of Eco Fashion. H&M has made great strides in bringing ethical fashion to their customers, and I expect that the other makers of quick fashion will not fall far behind. However, the movement of slow fashion, which is centered around incorporating thrift and used clothing and accessories into your Eco Fashion consumption diet, is a nice alternative to the Eco Fashionista who wants new looks at a quick pace, but is looking to reuse and recycle, rather than be boxed out of their closet by too many new items. In Kyle Hepp’s article on slow fashion, he talks about the how ” It’s easy to walk into a fast fashion store and focus on how much you can get for so few dollars. But don’t ignore the fact that somewhere across the sea, someone else’s children are sewing the clothes that your children might be wearing.” This is a great example of the re-direction of dollars that the practice of Eco Fashion consumption can supply.
Another dimension of Eco Fashion in this same slow fashion mode is the concept of clothing swaps. Sites like Clothing Swap enable people to come together and trade clothes in a social setting. On their site they describe that ” Clothing Swap® has spearheaded ‘green glamour’ by gathering fashionable swappers together in a fun environment where they relax, mingle, get pampered and then SWAP (exchange) clothing, shoes and accessories and thus, happily augment their wardrobes in a “Girl’s Night Out” atmosphere.” This is an entirely new practice of consumption, that is just another attribute of the potential for Eco Fashion.
In this series, the goal was to explore the materials, trends and consumption practices of the world of Eco Fashion. The hope was to get a basic level of understanding of the merits and potential for this way of shopping can bring to all of you Eco Fashionistas out there.
I look forward to hearing your reactions on how you feel now that you have learned a bit more about Eco Fashion, and do hope that you feel even more inspired to go out there and be an even BIGGER Eco Diva!