Being surrounded by trendy, shiny things can be intoxicating since it seems in our marrow to crave something new. Cool toys, those must-have shoes or interesting experiences when dangled in front of us, has our pleasure senses on high alert; a behavior we may have learnt as children as our own parents tried to motivate and reward us with new stuff if we did well in school, finish our chores or followed their rules.
In turn, our previously owned goods naturally lose its sparkle. We want novelty, we don’t want what we already have, we want something fresh. The stuff we already own simply isn’t appealing enough to excite us and that includes the stuff other people own too, such as their second hand clothes. Hand me down clothes? No thanks, many of us say.
Fortunately, today’s generation is slowly emerging out of this superficial state of mind and they’re becoming more and more conscious of these thought patterns, especially when it comes to consumerism.
I’ve been reporting on the rise of sustainable fashion in the Philippines for the last year and it’s a movement that is growing. In fact, several days ago, I got my swap-on at the Sustainable Fashion Fest held at Element Boutique Hotel in Makati; one of 50 other community events across the country offered by the Philippines Startup Week.
Philippine Startup Week 2019 is the country’s first large-scale collaborative initiative by the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, QBO Innovation Hub and various private agencies, to shine a light on the innovative individuals and businesses in the Filipino startup community through nationwide events. Eleven cities participated in this year’s five-day event which also featured a three-day main summit, five-day conference and four-night fests showcasing the most promising startups in the country.
The Sustainable Fashion Fest: A Night for Style Swap and Community Meet-up event was held as part of the week to promote sustainability in fashion. Organized by Forth Co. sustainable apparel e-marketplace, Wear Forward a fashion recommerce and social enterprise and Fashion Revolution Philippines, the event welcomes sustainable fashion advocates, fashion consumers, entrepreneurs and people interested in learning about conscious fashion.
The venue was packed with participants who were all on a mission to update their wardrobe. Buying pre-owned clothes is not new to us. In the Philippines, the rise of Ukay Ukay, the Filipino version of a flea market came decades ago, but this particular event was set to redefine the concept of shopping for second-hand clothes through an entirely different approach– the clothes swap party.
For a fashion night offering free welcome drinks, clothes swapping and open-mic performances,one would expect participants to arrive in their most head-turning Coachella-ish outfit but instead, guests sported their corporate garb. It made sense; it was a weeknight and people had just finished up at the office.
For the clothes swap, attendees were required to bring two to five items of clothing to swap and I could see that most had come bearing preloved fashion items.
The evening commenced with a word from the Wear Forward founder and CEO Prince Jimdel Ventura and Forth Co. co-founder and CEO Sheila Fuentes who both spoke of fast fashion and its environmental impacts and provided tales of what really goes on behind the scenes away from the glamorous advertising. They stressed the importance of slow fashion and how brands should practice transparency as well as social and environmental justice.
The night went on with people (mostly females) flocking around the racks and thumbing their way through hangers of pre-loved items. Meanwhile, fashion stylist KC Leyco Mempin aka Miss Kayce, former stylist to actor Ian Veneracion, enlightened us with styling tips and techniques and tips to help attendees maximise their used fashion finds. “You don’t need brand new clothes to look and feel good,” she tells us. “You can just mix and match from any collection of old clothes and still look fashionable.”
Fashion fades, style is eternal.” – Yves Saint Laurent
The aim of the whole evening was to instill in each of us the importance of responsible consumerism. The wardrobe exchange party is one fun way to discuss slow and sustainable fashion, meet new people, helps you offload clothing you no longer want but where you get to haul wardrobe pieces without spending a dime or harming the environment.
And if you don’t find yourself at a clothes swap party, or Ukay Ukay, and really want to buy something new, always always ask who made your clothes. If the clothing you are eyeing off is produced ethically by fairly paid workers and is kinder to the planet (eco-friendly fabrics, intentionally designed, handmade etc) then go for it!
- Eco Travel Diary: Philippines
- How Fast Fashion Invaded the Philippines Retail Market
- Philippines Has a Major Problem with Plastic Pollution. Here’s What They’re Doing About it…
- Even in the Philippines, the Zero Waste Movement is Taking Off
- How You Can Be a Sustainable Diner and Reduce Food Waste in the Philippines
- Rise For Climate: Activists Call for 100% Clean Renewable Energy
- The Rise of Veganism in the Philippines
All images supplied by author.