People have been accustomed to traditional clothing. Sometimes this means attire that respects religious customs and values, other times traditional just means jeans and a t-shirt. The truth is that people want to look good but in essence they get dressed up to be accepted. Complying to these traditional standards of clothing has given them a sense of acceptance, security essentially. However, in many ways the dynamic between people and clothing is going through changes.
Before people dressed up to be accepted, now they want to dress up to be different in the way they look. To stand out, taking risks and being bolder.
Pop culture influences fashion in the biggest way, music as well. Both are dynamic and ever-changing which influences trends more readily. The result has been that fast fashion companies in particular, produce much needed variations for their consumers in a short space of time. With the rise of #ootd expressions, people are having more fun getting dressed up and showing off their unique looks. #Fashion is a favourite on social media and #mensfashion is ever-growing too. For people on a budget but want to update their look quickly fast fashion is cheaply and readily at their fingertips. The problem is they only end up wearing half of the clothes they own.
While fast fashion may be shunned for its contribution to the depletion of natural resources (for one) there’s no doubt it’s catering to a consumer need. To look different on a budget.
So, the question stands, do people value sustainable fashion in South Africa? I believe they do or in the very least they want to. However, they value looking different on a budget more highly. The solution to this doesn’t necessarily lie in changing their values, rather seeing how sustainability can still be achieved in spite of this value.
Techniques in washing clothes, preserving clothes as well as doing clothing exchanges, collections and repurposing clothes can bring peace of mind to those who want to contribute to a greener environment. Sustainability isn’t a linear strategy but rather businesses should be thinking more creatively. Actively getting their consumers involved in and out of their brand space to bring about more environmental change when it comes to fashion.
Sustainability needs to be implemented across the board, no matter what the scope of a business. Therefore, the opportunity in fashion and particularly fast fashion is to identify how sustainable fashion can be implemented amongst SA people without changing the offering?