In line with Fashion Revolution Week, we ask Kate Hall, Sustainability Inspirer, Educator & Author to share her thoughts on modern day consumer consumption. Kate writes on her concerns & hopes she has on the current state of the fashion industry, and the way in which we all contribute & have the power to influence positive change.
'I wish I could tell you that the fashion industry has cleaned up its act since the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. I wish I could say that the death of 1,134 people who were working in an unsafe factory to make clothes for people who already had full wardrobes was a catalyst for the whole world to ditch fast fashion. I wish I could say there was a Fashion Revolution. I want to say things are better. But if I did, I would be lying.'
The fashion industry has not changed fast enough and the changes that have been made are not the right ones. Companies are switching out cotton for organic cotton, polyesters with wools, and while these are great adjustments (depending on the type of sustainable materials that are being used as not all organic cotton is made sustainably), it’s not the direction we should be moving in.
In 2019, I had the privilege of popping ‘TEDx speaker’ in my Instagram bio. During my talk I threw 23kgs of clothing across the room, representing the amount of waste the average person consumes each year. I also royally mucked up a statistic by leaving off a zero and telling people 8 billion clothes were consumed annually across the globe when it was actually a sickening 80 billion. It’s 2023: that statistic is now 100 billion. It’s okay if a little bit of vomit just climbed up into your throat.
We. Consume. Too. Much.
Honestly? It’s that simple. I don’t care if your skirt is made from the most magic organic fed, vegan, unicorn dust material... you have 10 other skirts in your wardrobe. I’ll be the first to admit I am not a minimalist. I adore fashion and I will never live out of a capsule wardrobe. But I shook up my purchasing habits with a wardrobe freeze (nothing new, no undies, not even second hand stuff came into my wardrobe for a year) and it made me see just how toxic the fashion industry really is. Of course the global statistic of clothing consumption is going to increase! Sustainable fashion companies are changing the wages their workers are paid and the materials their clothing is made with, but they’re not willing to change the frequency of their marketing or the tactics they use to convince consumers their life will be so much better when they’re donned in their new floral range.
I know it’s not as simple as ‘just slow down consumption and the fashion industry will be alright’, but a focus on how businesses sell clothes instead of what clothes they sell would do wonders. And it’s totally possible. A brand will need to put on their big-girl-pants, reduce the frequency of their promotional newsletters, slow down production, produce in limited quantities, and start offering repair programmes in lieu of frequent season launches, but it’s already happening.
In another 10 years time, I hope to tell you that the fashion industry has cleaned up its act since the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. I hope I can say that the death of 1,134 people who were working in an unsafe factory to make clothes for people who already had full wardrobes was a catalyst for the whole world to ditch fast fashion. I hope to say things are better, without lying.
In 10 years time, I hope fashion companies have been brave enough to do better. But I also hope you’ve been brave enough to do better too. In 10 years time, I hope to stand in front of your wardrobe and spot the same clothes you’re wearing today.
That’s brave. That’s change. That’s a Fashion Revolution.
Written by Kate Hall