The fashion industry bombards us with the latest styles: what’s “on trend” this season, what we should be buying, what celebrities are wearing… But this culture of conspicuous consumption is starting to grate. New clothing sales are on a downward trend – earlier in the year, The Independent reported research that shows “consumers are switching their spending from goods such as clothes to experiences such as dining out and hitting the gym, leading to hundreds of high street shop closures”. People also want to know who made their clothes, from what, where and under what conditions.
Consumers are focusing on buying brands that are good quality and work season after season, instead of depending on poor-quality “fashionable” items that last for just a few months. In other words, fast fashion is being replaced by slow fashion – which means “evolving a personal style and incorporating consciousness into fashion, not manically following seasonal trends but rather staying true to yourself” Emilia Wik, Founder of BYEM.com explains in the Huffington Post.
So how can you get involved? BuyMeOnce has carefully selected conscious brands and curated handy shopping guides. Bloggers and fashion writers are talking slow fashion so you can easily find ideas online for slowing down your style. You can also participate in the sharing economy.
We don’t just mean Airbnb, which is often what people think of when they hear the term. More and more sharing platforms are springing up that allow you to borrow instead of buy and share what you have – not just homes like the Airbnb model, but anything from designer clothing to bags and accessories. Joining this “borrow don’t buy” community creates a more sustainable way of living and lessens the need for ownership. As a sharing economy obsessive, I’ve thought about this a lot – so here are my five reasons sharing can help you do your bit for sustainable fashion:
1. It means you buy less stuff
The capsule wardrobe is no longer just for a holiday or weekend away. Buying only what we love or truly need and owning less is both stylish, liberating and of benefit to the environment. Having a few key pieces that go with each other – and borrowing the rest via the sharing economy – helps to declutter both our homes and minds too. After all, it’s been well documented that we tend to wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.
2. You can go for what you truly love
We can make better choices by making fewer considered purchases rather than numerous impulse buys. After all, classic pieces and accessories are timeless, can be worn throughout the years and rarely let us down. The impulsiveness can then be saved for sharing; because you’re not committing to ownership, a bold fashion move is easier to make. And if it doesn’t work, you’re handing the item back soon anyway.
4. You can choose experiences over ownership
Experiences and making memories is now king. In an AdAge article, Brian Schultz said, “Consumers today are broadly catching on to the notion that experiences make you happier and are as valuable or more than buying fancy things.” Although this doesn’t mean we want to go without, it may mean we choose to hire that fantastic dress or bag to create a more memorable experience at a special occasion instead of buying a new one that’s likely to take up valuable space in our wardrobe.
4. By sharing you can save
Sharing gives us the opportunity to either make or save a few pounds that can be spent on an item which is built to last – a welcome idea with inflation and the cost of living both rising. Use a sharing economy fashion platform like Rentez-Vous which allows owners to list their clothing for renters to borrow. Quality always shows through and by sharing what we have it gives any item the full lifetime of use it deserves. Or why not “swish” – have a party where everyone brings designer clothes to share?
5. You can be a force for good
In its broadest sense, the sharing economy is a force for good. “The sharing economy is growing fast, disrupting traditional models, and will rival the rental market in size by 2025,” according to PwC. Supporting it means supporting entrepreneurship, which is great for the economy and great for the forward-looking start-ups that are an expression of new, sustainable values in our society.
Samantha Lingham is founder of Share Our Style, the first sharing economy platform for sharing designer handbags with a ‘borrow don’t buy’ focus.