An end to disposable fashion

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Could the end be in sight for disposable fashion? Let’s bloody well hope so…

Late on parade today, due to having to dash to the vet’s with a cat this morning.

Less of a dash than a crawl, truth be told, as it’s a pea-souper today. Turning left was a journey into total whiteness, and very scary, so I tootled along at 50kmph most of the time, both sets of foglights on. 

That said, I wanted to write today about an item I saw on the news, discussing whether British women are ending their love affair with throwaway fashion. 

Well, about time too, say I. 

Being a bit of an eco-warrior, though rather limp-wristed about it sometimes, I have a real bug up my chimney about our so-called throwaway society. Shame on our culture for this, for the way we consume so endlessly, then just dispose of things before they are in any way used up.

The amount of petrochemicals it takes to produce the average garment is frightening. Cotton, for instance, is a major polluter, and a nasty monocrop, requiring the use of vast amounts of pesticide that makes farmers all over the world, but particularly in India, very sick. It takes up land that people could use to produce food. The dyeing process is also filthy, polluting rivers and waterways. And then what? You buy it, you wear it, you chuck it out. 

One high-street retailer, the BBC revealed this morning, expects its clothes to be worn an average of SIX times before being discarded, and the average British women buys 14 clothing items a year that she never gets round to wearing at all. No wonder three quarters of British clothes end up in landfill (1.2 million tonnes per year). And there they stay, gone but not forgotten, polluting the soil, testimony to our ridiculous fashion whims. What the hell will future societies make of us?

However – at long last – it would appear that this trend, fuelled by new fashion collections coming out every three weeks rather than twice a year, may finally be going slightly into reverse, as British women once again begin to look for quality in their clothes in a time of economic crisis.

At least those of us who are over 40 should have no trouble with this concept – it’s how we were all brought up. Choose wisely and well, and some garments can last virtually forever. When I tried to calculate this morning how many times I’ve worn some of my cashmere sweaters, the answer can’t be less than 400 times (20 years x 20 weeks on average per year). That’s pretty good value for money, even if I’d paid full price, which I didn’t – they mostly cost about £25 second-hand, working out at 6 pence per wear over time, and lending me their luxurious softness and warmth on every occasion.  

IMHO, we desperately need to get back to the idea that wearing something different every day is NOT high style. Wearing clothes that fit you and flatter you and suit your life, that are well-made and well-designed and that improve your appearance are what count. A smaller wardrobe, full of good-quality things, that interchange and work together, and upon which you can build incrementally. 

And with that rant over, I’m off to pet my poor cat. 



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