Empower Your Wardrobe: 12 Steps to Fashion Citizenship
words by Zine Jemmali
October 28, 2020
It starts with us, me and you, here and now on World Sustainability Day. The last Wednesday of every October is a day for schools, companies and organizations to dedicate their activities to caring for the environment, and the steps we must take to do so.
Here, together with Save Your Wardrobe, I am marking this day by inviting you on a fashion journey that will change your relationship with your style, your shopping habits and your wardrobe’s contents, forever.
I’ve been a fashion journalist for 20 years and seen the growing army of conscious shoppers. Like Hasna Kourda, Save Your Wardrobe’s founder, I am a conscious citizen, and applaud the rise of Stella McCartney, Depop and vintage resale sites such as Vestiaire. That the resale market is expected to rise to over $50 billion in three years is brilliant news and suggests fashion’s future is looking more circular than the current take-make-waste model.
But this is not the full picture. The fact is, we are still firmly in an era of fast fashion, an industry producing some 150 billion garments a year. Asos.com quadrupled its sales during Covid-19 lockdown. These numbers tell us another, scarier, everyday story of rampant fashion consumption continuing unchecked.
The latest research suggests the average person buys 60% more items than they did 15 years ago, and keeps them half as long. By 2050 we’ll need three planet Earths to sustain the demand on raw materials. Thing is, we don’t have two spare planets to grow all the cotton, wool and leather we need to satiate our desire for new clothes.
When are we going to wake up and see we can’t carry on like this? How can we put a halt to it? We have to do something, start somewhere, and we have to do it now. Luckily, we have crafted a solution together with help from the incredible 12 Step Program that has helped millions of people around the world find a new design for living free from addictions. And if there is one thing we can agree on, many of us are addicted to the dopamine hit that comes with shopping for new clothes. The only problem is we discard the clothes too quickly.
While we love what sustainable brands are doing, let’s be honest, it is still shopping for new stuff. Well, we have a radical suggestion for you! What if WE all took action, starting by unlocking the potential in our own wardrobes? There is £30 billion worth of unworn clothing in British wardrobes alone. What if we could, at a glance, see what we own, and by so doing use it, and share it more effectively?
This is what the founders and partners – of which I am proudly one – of Save Your wardrobe are asking you to do.
Introducing the 12 Steps to Fashion Citizenship. Our heartfelt suggestion is that we ask you to fling open the doors to all your cupboards, and to digitize your wardrobe, much like we were once asked (if you’re old enough to remember!) to digitize our vintage vinyl and CD. How do you do that? We can show you! Once this work is done it unlocks a range of ways to extend the life of your clothes in fun and inventive ways in Save Your Wardrobe.
Step 1. Be a citizen, not a consumer.
Leave the madness of the wasteful fashion system behind.
Step 2. Change your shopping habits, and save the world.
Stop those impulse buys, make only thoughtful purchases.
Step 3. Make a fearless inventory of your wardrobe.
Follow our easy way to digitize.
Step 4. Now you have an inventory, Deal with your stuff!
Will you repair, upcycle, resell or rent clothes you don’t wear anymore?
Step 5. Acknowledge where you have been going wrong with wardrobe and laundering choices.
Connect with our community and share where you have been going wrong.
Step 6. Make a promise to change – forever.
Pledge to keep your clothes in use as long as possible.
Step 7. Use digital wardrobe tools to keep your clothes in use.
How much CO2 have you saved? How many airmiles? How many items can you give new life to using our repair tools?
Step 8. Ditch your fashion habit by learning new skills.
Learn to sew and upcycle using our online classes.
Step 9. Continue to inventory your wardrobe, and when wrong, fess up.
Every new purchase can be seamlessly integrated into the app, making outfit planning easy.
Step 10. Make sure your personal values align to the fashion brands, retailers and designers you support.
If you agree with a brand sustainability credentials, show them your business.
Step 11. Love Your Clothes:
Cherish them, share them. Look after them. Wear them. Repair them.
Step 12. Carry this message of Fashion Citizenship to consumers and join our tribe!
There is power in community. Let’s do this together.
Image credit: Melanie Rickey by Lily Bertrand-Webb