Why Is Sustainable Fashion Trending?

May 6
I don’t love the idea of trends… Of course they exist and reflect collective ideas, sentiments, and actions, but I think trends are antithetical to individuality and personal style; additionally, trends reinforce the idea of “perceived obsolescence” (also known as aesthetic obsolescence).

Perceived obsolescence is “when people think a product is no longer useful or no longer holds value.” In terms of fashion, this means that the functional and material value of a garment is still there, but people simply think/believe/feel that a garment no longer holds value.

So while trends and perceived obsolescence in fashion is something I don’t personally engage with, the trend of sustainability in fashion is something I can definitely get on board with.

Sustainability in fashion is trending because there is a genuine, collective interest in clothing that has less of an impact on the planet (which is tied to impacts on people and animals as well). Due to an increased awareness of the problems with fashion amongst the general public, the concept of “sustainable fashion” has really taken off in recent years. Here are some of the factors contributing to its increased visibility:

-Climate change
-Social responsibility
-Education and media
-Legislation and policies
-Technological innovations

However, I think it’s time we move on from

1: general awareness of the many problems of the fashion industry, as it can feel hopeless and overwhelming
2: the idea that we are going to buy our way out of the problem

It’s true that it’s still incredibly important to raise awareness of the issues, but it’s really time for solutions that make people feel hopeful! And that solution is not to buy something that is relatively or incrementally “better,” because there’s nothing new that you can buy that’s genuinely good for the planet; rather, we have to look for solutions that will address the core issues of overconsumption and overproduction.

So while I appreciate “sustainable fashion” trending, and what it represents, I know that this genuine interest in real solutions is being co-opted by brands to sell even more stuff and exacerbate the problem.

But what I hope happens is that people will change how they think about and engage with fashion… Behavioral change is under-rated, but it can change the very fabric of not only your wardrobe but also the entire industry.
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