Your Wardrobe Story, A Story of Choices
Illustration by Samruddhi Godbole
All of us have been in a somewhat similar situation where you find yourselves wearing an outfit exactly similar to the person in front of you. May it be someone known to you or some third person. And then they glance at each other when they recognize that they are wearing a similar outfit. It seems that the world has become one globalized drive where everyone wants to adore the same language, everyone wants to go and visit the famous food joint in the town, everyone wants to wear an outfit that suits the current trends. This makes me realize the fact that individualism is going to become the next big luxury and it is going to be celebrated by each one of us. We are part of today’s millennial generation. All of us have this big platform called social media where we can express what we feel and experience. Every time I scroll on Instagram or see any shared stories, I feel that most of us are trying to find out their own identity or gain a sense of individualism out there. We want to explore the part of ourselves which makes us different from others and we want it to be seen and respected by others. It has now become a new trend to get things done in a customized way.
The ‘Consuming’ Behavior Pattern
As we weave more and more into this, we get to see the other shades to this behavioral pattern of consuming things. It would be erroneous to not consider one pattern that many of us have been following knowingly or unknowingly. For ages we have been producing more, consuming less and disposing off more than the earth can regenerate. Interesting and necessary to know, the fashion industry contributes to many environmental concerns and unethical practices by being the second largest polluter of the earth. As we dig deeper into this, one can prominently realize that we live in consumerization as much as civilization.
Studying the fashion system can help us understand different cultures, society and different patterns in consumer behavior. Previously, a consumer used to prefer to purchase clothing or any lifestyle product from a brand whose name and quality is guaranteed. However, today’s consumers are desiring the same qualitative product but are not willing to pay the right price as they do not consider quality in the same high regard. Instead, the consumers are willing to purchase replicas of the same product but with low-quality standards. People are prioritizing quantity over quality. To match this demand of the consumers, the concept of ‘fast fashion’ has evolved. Fast fashion is the reason for the quick turnover of designs that move from the runway in fashion shows to the current fashion trends. So, the distributors and the resellers sought their interests by focusing on the key elements of the supply chains. They aim at manufacturing more but at a low price in order to facilitate the new demands of consumers. With this ongoing trend of fast fashion, clothing collections are built around the latest fashion trends presented at the fashion shows in New York, Paris and Milan, providing consumers’ high-end style at an affordable price. Although fast fashion turns out to be the largest disrupter in the retail industry today, it still benefits the consumer by coping up with them in terms of accessibility and affordability. With around 1,600 stores in 58 countries, fast fashion brands like Zara have now become the giant retailers by selling their own labeled clothing and accessories with the latest designs, frequently refreshing their collections and by minimizing the time period between design and production. In 2015, Zara recorded total global sales of $19.7 billion beating the likes of Gap, Primark and Abercrombie & Fitch as well as surpassing their 2014 sales by 8%.
Why are we being so FAST?
Is it REAL or is it just FAST?
These brands have an unimaginable strong network of supply chains that help them refresh their collections almost twice a week, sometimes thrice. Unlike the ready-to-wear designer-made, custom-made clothes, brands like Gap and Zara gave an opportunity to customers to buy-now runaway model clothes keeping affordability in mind. These strong networks also minimize the time gap between ideation, production and delivery. As the production is most of the times in small quantities, there’s hardly a situation of dead stock. In a supply chain, there are four main phases; sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, and retail. Most of the brands operate 2 or more stages at the same time, which allow them to change their collections frequently and make up for the rapid upcoming demands while covering a vast customer base.
Keeping up with the New Trends
The millennial and GenZ shoppers are in demand for quick on-trend fashion. Instead of spending money on research and development in an aim to be the next trendsetter or innovator, some brands focus on the latest fashion trends providing a responsible and strong supply chain.
These factors explain the reason why individualism is becoming one of the next big luxuries. But also, the fast fashion industry is making us throw things away that are in usable conditions and shop more than we need. Each one of us needs to know about how our choices are leading to a massive environmental crisis. Today, considering the enormous rate at which fashion is produced and consumed, we are affecting the environment and the natural resources which are our biggest survivors. We are also leading to exploitation of labour due to our unnecessary consumption. Day by day, the world is now getting divided into voices and exhibitionists in context to consumer behavior. Therefore, it is our responsibility as a conscious consumer to actively engage ourselves in increasing protests against unethical practices in the fashion industry. We need to educate people about ethical fashion and also about fast fashion and its negative impact on the environment.
Being Socially and Sustainably Responsible, a Choice that Matters
Haiku by Samruddhi Godbole
The environmental concerns comprise the hazardous impact of the fashion industry on the world. We consume in large volumes which at some point leads to higher disposal rates leading to the accumulation of lots of waste which in turn leads to scarcity of natural resources.
Processes like dyeing and finishing processes of our garments consume a lot of water. It can take up to 2720 litres of water to make a simple T-shirt. It is common for most of us to prefer cotton amongst the other fabrics for our daily use. However, cotton needs vast quantities of water to grow it. It takes almost 22,000 liters of water to grow 1 kg of cotton. It leads to problems like lack of drinking water. Hence, it is important to reconsider our demand for such fabric.
Many countries that produce garments witness high levels of untreated toxic waste. This waste water contains toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic which are extremely harmful for marine life. This may pollute the water bodies in and around the surroundings. Here to overcome this issue, we have the option to switch to clothes that are made locally, and out of organic and natural fibres.
As a result of these environmental crises, a large number of fashion brands are moving towards sustainable fashion or eco-fashion. ‘Eco-conscious’ attitude is an often-used strategy for communication by the brands. Shifting to sustainable clothing makes us realize our wasteful behavior. It generates less amount of waste as it is long-lasting. It serves as an alternative option to fast fashion as well. The organic fabrics can be easily decomposed and the natural dyes save our skin from harmful chemicals.
The choice for fast fashion has given us this privilege of buying more and getting rid of our older possessions very easily. It has now become the new normal to discard easily rather than repair.
It is a very contradictory, yet a true fact, that many of us are out there on social media trying to explore our identity and gain a sense of individualism. Yet here we are still trapped mentally in this chain of fast fashion. We are not able to understand and reciprocate to the fact that fast fashion is not a healthy manner and it cannot lead us to gain individualism.
Haiku by Samruddhi Godbole
We often find our happiness in consuming things from the outside world, from where we can get more and possess more. But we hardly think rationally about how we can seek happiness from what we already have.
5 Easy Steps to create your own Wardrobe Story
Prioritize QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
Be SPECIFIC IN YOUR CHOICES so that you learn to value your wardrobe.
USE MORE, ACT WISELY
CONNECT STORIES AND MEMORIES with each of the items that you possess from your wardrobe collection.
Live a simple yet MEANINGFUL LIFE.
This way, the items that you possess are consumed for a longer period than usual due to which items of clothing do not just remain items but they become augmentations of your personality. And also, you learn to use more and act wisely as a step against the unethical fashion industry.
Haiku by Samruddhi Godbole
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