SYW Sessions: Orsola de Castro
words by Melanie Rickey
January 15, 2021
We’ve had an incredible month of learnings at our Save Your Wardrobe Sessions on Zoom. Each week during November we hosted a discussion with our Founder Hasna Kourda and a different expert guest who shared their experience of the dysfunctional fashion system, and how we have the power to change the way we interact with fashion.
In week one, Fashion Revolution co-founder Orsola de Castro talked about how to be a citizen, not a consumer, a crucial subject which dovetails with Step 1 of Save Your Wardrobe’s recently launched “12 Steps to Fashion Citizenship.”
“If you have the time to find the right size and fit for your body, you also have the time to choose clothes that fit your values and beliefs. And that is where the Save Your Wardrobe is brilliant because you can see what you own quickly using the app.”
Below we share the key points of the discussion, as well as Orsola’s passion and deep knowledge on the subject. We recommend internalising these ideas as your own.
Take Outs From the Session:
- – To be a citizen, not a consumer is to acknowledge that we are in the fashion supply chain every time we open our wardrobe.
- – We didn’t wake up once day in the 1970s and walk around with placards demanding cheap clothing. It materialised, and we bought it.
- – Brands are making billions of clothing items a year. Way more than we will ever need. Way more than we will ever buy; and the people at the top of those brands are earning more money than they will ever need. How is that just?
- – We have to pick who we are going to be different from, and for the citizen excess should be stigmatised.
- – Our wardrobe is OUR responsibility. The life of a garment is halfway through its cycle at point of purchase. Therefore, once we own something, the responsibility to maximise its use, clean it responsibly, and not waste it or under use it, is with us.
- – Make no mistake, though we need the be citizens, the onus also has to be on brands to change. As citizens, we need to demand that the products they create are better made, to request that repairs are offered and are available, and that workers are paid fairly.
- – If you have the time to find the right size and fit for your body, you also have the time to choose clothes that fit your values and beliefs. If you search on the latter criteria, you’ll find very different things. If you find anything at all! You might find you already have what you seek. And that is where the Save Your Wardrobe is brilliant because you can see what you own quickly using the app, and keep it in use.
- – Covid-19 has done a brilliant job of shining a light on the problem; around £16bn worth of clothing went unsold this year, clothes the pandemic proved that no one needed, yet the system continues, but its days are numbered because resources will run out.
- – We need to stop thinking of waste as waste, and think if it as the resource that it is.
- – The only antidote to a throwaway society is to keep. We’ve got to keep. I am a clothes keeper! That means slowing down, taking the time to learn to repair and mend. Or demand that repair and mend is available in stores, in your supermarket aisles, in our schools, in the community.
- – What would I tell a teenage fast fashion addict? By all means continue to buy fast fashion – but buy it because you love it and choose to keep it going. Don’t replace. When it breaks, post a picture of it to Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing or whoever, and demand they make better quality clothes, ask for it to be repaired.
Orsola de Castro’s new book “Loved Clothes Last” is published in February 2021. Pre-order your copy here.