There have been multiple people who have said to me recently "Okay, I get the facts about social and environmental injustice in the fashion industry, but now what do I do about it?" First of all, keep checking back here! I'm trying each week to gather information and compile it into a comprehensive form, so that you don't have to sift through all the resources yourself. Second of all, start simply by changing your mind about consumption– I've also recently had a friend say that it would be important for me to look into how to be a responsible customer on a budget, because this sustainable movement is "chic and trendy" but not attainable for everyone. That deeply saddened me because they were largely missing the point. This isn't a fleeting idea that people with money have made up, this is different people reacting in their own way to the very real problems in the fashion industry (and world at large).
I'll start off by saying that it may be misleading to only say "fashion industry" because many assume that means high fashion or brands that are popular with the "trendy" crowd. However, the fashion industry includes all clothing. The True Cost, Fashion Revolution and the entire slow fashion movement are about rethinking consumption in general. It's great to get excited about different brands that are making fair trade clothing and accessories (which I absolutely am!) But what is most important is slowing down consumption, rethinking the idea that just because we can afford it, we should buy it, or that we need a lot of stuff in order to be happy. I understand the argument that it is frustrating to see all of these brands being talked about that are expensive, and that I am in a place of great privilege as a person of means. I also understand that my job isn't to indulge in these brands now but to be a much more thoughtful customer. Even if you have the means to shop at all of these lovely brands it does not mean that you should impulse buy everything they have! I am by no means an expert and am still trying to figure out how to balance my passion for creative personal style and the slow fashion movement. What I do know is that I will start by taking more time when shopping, shopping less, and investing in clothes instead of buying something because I can. When you love your clothing items it doesn't matter if you paid $3 at Goodwill or $200 at Kowtow, you'll take care of them because they mean something to you . Check out the hashtag campaign #30wears (started by Livia Firth of Eco-Age) on Instagram and get inspired by people who continue to love and wear the same clothing items! That is what this movement is all about.
I would like to give credit to Eleanor O'Neill for the term "responsible" customer/fashion. Check out her blog Study 34 for great information and musings about this movement!