By Natalie Camrud '17 and Diva Gattani '17
Do you have a closet jammed full of clothes, but you feel like you have nothing to wear? Do you impulsively buy clothes only to feel unsatisfied afterwards? Do your clothes fall apart within a few months? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please read further. I used to be the same way-- I would shop aimlessly to kill time and I’d buy a shirt because I kinda liked it and because it was cheap. I had a closet full of cheaply made clothes that I didn’t love. I didn’t know who made my clothes, where my clothes came from, or the impact my buying habits were having on the environment.
This summer, my outlook on fashion was changed forever. My friend made me watch a documentary on Netflix called “The True Cost.” It shows the immense impacts, both social and environmental, of the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion is a term used to describe huge retailers (like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M) who churn out new items and new trends at extremely fast rates. Clothing costs have depreciated over time, and companies do this by making lower quality clothes and cutting corners when it comes to workers’ rights and safety. Fast fashion is also the second most polluting industry in the world. When I realized I was contributing to this industry, the way I look at clothes was completely altered.
I believe that fashion is a wonderful form of expression, but not at the expense of millions of workers and our environment. This doesn’t mean you have to throw everything out of your closet and start over. Just start making changes now and your closet will evolve slowly over time; it’s a journey. We as consumers have more of a voice than we think. Help change the pattern of extreme consumption and disregard for millions of garment workers and our environment and join the Slow Fashion movement. Don’t feel pressured by rapidly changing trends. Change your relationship with your closet and buy clothes that you truly love, clothes that are timeless and built to last.
My new collaborator, Diva Gattani, was the friend who showed me the documentary. She spent her summer working for an eCommerce company called Zady. Zady is committed to the “New Standard” of fashion and only carries sustainable brands.
Natalie Camrud: What inspired you to work for Zady this summer?
Diva Gattani: I always wanted to work in fashion and what I really liked about Zady is that it’s a company that emphasizes sustainability and transparency across all modes of production, and I think that when people look at retail they think about how glamorous clothes look and designers and runways and models. But the truth is that a lot of people don’t truly know what they’re wearing or where their clothes come from, and don’t know anything about the supply chain. The fact that I could work for a company that knew everything about their supply chain for their items was unique.
NC: How did your view on fashion change and how did the way you buy clothes change after working there?
DG: It made me a much more conscious consumer. I’ve definitely bought less clothing after working at Zady and hearing about all the different brands that do not have transparent supply chains and have a lot of issues within those supply chains.
NC: What advice would you give to people who want to buy better but don’t have a huge budget?
DG: I would say one of the easiest ways to go about that would be buying secondhand or thrift stores, and there [are] some great ones in the village, actually, like Deelux and the Grove. Also swapping clothes — friends swap clothes all the time, so hosting a clothing swap could be a fun idea. Just buying less clothing in general is a good idea. A lot of consumers buy at big brand stores because they can get clothing for really cheap prices, but in reality, in regards to cost per wear, it’s not efficient because a lot of their clothing is low quality. Let’s say you spend $10 on jeans, those jeans end up falling apart after a few weeks and being thrown in the trash. If you add up all the money you’ve spent on $10 jeans in your life, it comes out to a lot. Spend your money more wisely, on a few quality items that you love and that will last a very long time.