There are many feelings in this world that are almost impossible to describe. In this incidence, the words that I am searching for denote the sense of awe one feels when they regain vision after being blind for some time. “Has the sky always been so blue, have the clouds always weaved in and out of it like handcrafted stitches?”
That is how I felt when I finally saw the lack of ethics within the fashion industry.
When you grow up in a westernised society, rightly or wrongly so, you adopt this saviour complex. The distinction between “us, with our ideal standard of living” and “them, who need our charitable donations” is clear. But then you grow older, and you realise that things are more nuanced than this, that we actually create many of the problems we claim we are trying to fix.Things like sweat shops, child labour and broken bodies under collapsed buildings. All of this so I can wear the newest new trendy sweater.
Within our “advanced” society we have somehow been sold the idea that we are only as relevant as our clothes, and unfortunately for us, these items have an expiration date. We can no longer wear the jumper with the stripes as it’s out of season. It gets banished to the back of the wardrobe while we make the monthly pilgrimage to the high street in search of its replacement. And just like the clothes, all of this comes with a price.
I now know all of this, yet I still remain a hypocrite. Just a few days ago I ordered some clothes from a certain large online clothes retailer all because I felt my wardrobe needed updating. And this is a point I wish to emphasise, I am not writing this from the perspective of this 100% ethical human being (not that such a thing is even possible), but from the perspective of a flawed person who has realised the impact of her seemingly inconsequential decisions.
As a 22 year old university student, some may label this feeling as juvenile idealism, after all the youth are always trying to save the world. However this is a topic I feel passionate about and have thought about a lot since the tragedy of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.
Consider this to be part 1 in a series of me finding my way towards ethical fashion.