Fast fashion has dominated the rag trade over the last couple of decades making rampant production and consumerism the norm. Characterised by speed of production, high volumes, low margins, cheap prices and disposable trends, the fast fashion industry exploits the human desire for cheap novelty and status, and threatens the health and wellbeing of our communities and the planet.
More than 100 billion items of clothing are produced each year; with a high percentage left unsold and unworn. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a whopping 87% of fibres used for clothing ends up in landfills or incinerated. With the recycling rate of textile waste being less than one percent, it’s clear that a sustainable approach to production and consumption is needed. While fashion businesses such as Upparel and Thousand Fell are focussing on circular fashion by recycling and upcycling materials at the end of a garment’s useful life, on the demand side of the fashion equation consumers are exploring the idea of recycling outfits or outfit repeating.
Celebrities such as Cate Blanchett, Tiffany Haddish, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, and former first lady Michelle Obama are known for rewearing outfits. As Blanchett tells The Hollywood Reporter, “Particularly in today’s climate, it seems willful and ridiculous that such garments are not cherished and re-worn.”
Want to do your bit to reduce fashion’s impact on the planet? Here are five ways you can help to normalise outfit repeating:
1. Take part in the #30wears Challenge
In 2016, Livia Firth, founder of sustainability and communications consultancy Eco-Age launched the #30Wears challenge to end the culture of buying disposable fashion and encourage shoppers to purchase items they will wear 30 times or more. A quick search of the hashtag #30wears on social media platform Instagram reveals 88,900 results, indicating a growing number of individuals promoting the #30wears concept. There’s no shame in re-wearing a garment or outfit; in fact, in sustainable fashion circles, it’s considered cool to do so.
2. Use #OOOTD in your outfit repeating posts
Most fashion lovers are aware of the social media hashtag #OOTD the acronym for “Outfit of the day”. What most aren’t aware of is the sustainable alternative #OOOTD which encourages people to share their “Old Outfit of the Day” as a way to celebrate and normalise outfit repeating. While not as commonly used as #30wears this is a social media movement based on promoting the same outfit repeating concept and is one sustainable fashion hashtag ‘trend’ to watch and take part in.
3. Shop your own wardrobe
A study of 18,000 households revealed that seven or eight of 10 clothing items in a wardrobe went unworn, with 88% of the Belgian wardrobe going unworn, and 82% of the American wardrobe. So rather than wasting your hard-earned cash in retail stores on clothing that will likely never see the light of day, save that time and money by shopping your own wardrobe. You’ll rediscover items you haven’t worn in months or perhaps years and perhaps fall in love with them all over again.
Shopping your wardrobe will give you an opportunity to create different outfit combinations with your existing items and perfect your personal style. You can even make it doubly fun and interesting by sharing with your social network how you wore the items back then, and how’ve decided to wear them now.
4. Call out publishers and people who shame others for rewearing outfits
Encouraging self-indulgent mindless shopping in the guise of helping shoppers find their identities whilst also promoting out of reach luxury designer brands, the fashion press, tabloids, trash gossip magazines and fashion insiders have a lot to answer for. Silly fashion faux pas such as wearing the same thing twice can also be traced to this group of style elites. How often over the decades has a celebrity been shamed for wearing the same thing on or off the red carpet or off? Years ago the Daily Mail shamed US Vogue editor Anna Wintour for doing this very sustainable thing. Huffington Post went one step further and pitted one female celebrity against the other with its article, “Kelly Osbourne Disses Kate Middleton for Wearing Same Dress Twice.”
Related Post: The Absurd Fashion Faux Pas You Need To Let Go Of
So if you observe a journalist, publisher or random fashionista shaming another for outfit repeating, call it out. The comical approach Tiffany Haddish took to addressing this issue in her Saturday Night Live monologue was also effective:
“Like this dress, I wore it on the Red Carpet for the ‘Girls Trip’ movie debut. And my whole team, they told me, “Tiffany, you cannot wear that dress on ‘SNL’. You already wore it. It’s taboo to wear it twice.” And I said, “I don’t give a dang about no taboo. I spent a lot of money on this dress. This dress cost way more than my mortgage. This is a Alexander McQueen, okay? This is a $4,000 dress. I’m gonna wear this dress multiple times. Okay?”
She continues with her joke: “Real talk? You might see this dress in two sketches tonight. If somebody invites me to a bar or bat mitzvah, guess what I’m going to wear? This Alexander McQueen dress. If somebody invites me to all black party, guess what I’m wearing? This all white dress”
5. Create a signature look
Many of us wore a uniform to school minimising the time and energy spent worrying about what to wear each day and maximising the time spent on what mattered most at the time: our education. If you are feeling decision fatigue, want to free up some time in the mornings or just keen to save cash, why not create a signature look and stick to it? Whether you cultivate a basic style over the week a la Steve Jobs with navy jeans and black turtleneck, or wear a standard work capsule by mixing and matching black pants, skirts and shirts, having a signature look should make getting dressed easier and free up time and money to spend on the things you’re saving up for or debt you’re paying off.
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Cover image of meme featuring scenes from the movie Devil Wears Prada created by the Eco Warrior Princess team.