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Slow Fashion: Minding One’s Carbon Footprint While Dressing Up

Posted on July 20, 2010 in Environment

By Akshita Agrawal:

Years back shopping meant a visit to the market to purchase a few clothes that served the purpose for a whole year. As times changed, even the meaning of shopping did. From what was restricted to a couple of clothes for a whole year, shopping now means a fortnightly affair. Now we need to shop again and again for different occasions – for parties, college, office, get togethers, marriage etc. Different clothes serve different purpose. We need a variety in casuals, semi-formals, formals, Indian wear, western wear and even sports wear.

The priority is to look stylish, gorgeous, handsome, classy and trendy. In college, girls want to flaunt jeans, skirts, dresses and shorts paired with a variety of tee shirts and accessories. In office, men want to wear nothing less than a Koutons, as ladies show off Sabhyata and Westside. More so, as the season of weddings arrives. There is a rush to the magnificent stores where one can indulge in gorgeous sarees and lehengas during this season. Today, fashion is not just for the grown ups but also for new borns. Mothers want their newly borns to be dressed in Liliput or UCB. Fashion has evolved itself for everyone and for every occasion. It is no longer restricted by age or gender.

Fashion has had such a deep impact on people, that often the topic of discussion between ladies is what to wear and where to buy. Gone are the days when one suit served the purpose of attending office and a party. Today office means sophisticated suits and parties mean exotic clothes. If someone does end up repeating her clothes at any occasion, then only God save her from being the topic of discussion.

So we indulge in shopaholism as the importance of brands increase and end up shopping frequently. We are easily swayed by latest designs and recent collections, and lured by the tag of being a stylish person.

But do we understand the carbon footprint of such an attitude? Do we understand the deep dark side of this habit of indulging in shopping? Even if we do, do we do anything to change it? The answer to perhaps all questions is a NO. At a time when environment has become the centre of all discussions – from industrial activity to commonwealth games, we need to realize that it is also at the nucleus of fashion.

The irony is that while on one hand we buy hoards of clothes every year, there is a large proportion of the world population which does not even have clothes to cover their body! According to World Bank census, around 1.4 billion people worldwide do with only a pair or two of clothes in a year.

With the growing concern of environmental damage and emphasis on carbon footprints we need to analyze if we are doing our bit to save the environment. The answer to this comes in the form of a movement of ‘Slow fashion’. Why do we need to buy different clothes for different occasions? Why do we judge a person only by the variety of clothes he wears? Why do we get lured so easily by the recent collections and changing trends? Why can’t we keep the big picture in mind and understand the impact of such an attitude?

Let’s become smart shoppers and understand that the clothes should be used to their full capacity. Let us join the new wave of ‘slow fashion’. Slow fashion, as the name suggests, is a concept which focuses on more optimal use of clothes. It promotes less frequent shopping. It is a revolution of ideas and habits which encourage a shift from indulging in shopping to restricting the purchase of clothes. In fact slow fashion is also endorsed by some of the leading brands. Levi Strauss & Co. and Forum for the Future have collaborated to form Fashion Futures which calls for support of the industry to keep climate change in mind and coming up with more sustainable forms of fashion. Levis hence takes pride in the fact that they believe in making all their garments environmentally stable.

Let us also take pride in the fact that we don’t indulge in fashion just for the sake of it and purchase clothes when in dire need of it. Slow fashion might not be the complete answer to the problem, but it is definitely a beginning. If we do shop less frequently, the consumption of energy for this purpose would also reduce. This energy can then be diverted to more purposeful use like production of food. We need to understand that we are consuming more than the need all in the name of fashion!

As humans we have justification for everything we do, but it is time to take a decision now. Just remember keeping environment in mind never goes out of style.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.