Anneli Tostar explains why leaving fast fashion behind is a feminist issue, and how her and Anna Stapleton are trying to make sustainable style the easy option as well as the right one…
You may be thinking that this article is about what women are and aren’t allowed to wear. To be honest, we’re not that fussed about that, because anybody can wear whatever they want, as far as we’re concerned—cashmere bras included (yes Kate, yes). No, this article is about what happens before we put the clothes on our bodies.
Climate change is most likely to affect women, partially as a result of preexisting disempowerment. Climate change is also more likely to affect people living in developing countries. Most garments are made by women in developing countries. Meanwhile, the consumption of fashion is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The irony is not lost on us.
Fashion brands at both ends of the price spectrum are culpable of irresponsible and unsustainable practices. Fashion houses like Burberry have burned their leftover clothing stock to prevent it from being sold or used at a discount price. Not exactly sustainable. Uniqlo has recently been found to be withholding wages from workers in Indonesia. Not exactly ethical. Slavery is rampant across many global companies, and this is especially true in the fashion industry, with 77% of leading retailers in the U.K. believing that slavery in their supply chains was likely.
In short, the mindless consumption of fashion is leading us down a path that harms us all, particularly minority women. While brands push us to consume more and more for cheaper and cheaper, the true cost of this consumption is not reflected in the price of most clothing. If an item of clothing seems too cheap to be true, it probably is.
And yet. And yet fashion is so important—for self-expression, for identity, for transformation, for power. We truly believe that fashion can be an asset without being a liability. But we have a long way to go.
So, what can we do? For starters, we can educate ourselves. That’s why we’ve started Miljö—as we learn more about how to do fashion the right way, we want to share this with the rest of you, so that we can all make better-informed decisions. Our goal is to make sustainable fashion the easy option as well as the right one.
We want our relationship with fashion to become a more holistic one. We want it to be common knowledge that second-hand and rental is more sustainable. We want our peers to be in the habit of checking the fabrics and the labor practices of the clothes they’re about to buy. We want all of us to treat the production and consumption of fashion seriously, while still having fun with style.
We believe in a beautiful, slower world, where our purchases are more intentional. We believe that we can create a world that is better for women, through fashion, rather than in spite of it. Every purchase is a vote for the kind of world we want.
Are you with us?