We've left Paris and we're in divine Puglia, Italy surrounded by nature, eating as local as it gets (food that's been grown and made on the property we're staying at), and I'm, of course, thinking about sustainability, particularly in terms of my favorite topic: fashion.
Here's a thought. When I first started getting into sustainable fashion and learning about all the facts and figures and issues, I thought the problem was obvious and clear for all to see: collectively, as global fashion consumers, we buy too much. Scale back the volume at which we consume, and you also scale back all of the issues associated with that overconsumption- pollution, waste, labor abuses, poor quality, clothes that don't last, etc. However, asking the extra "why" (a useful practice I've learned in life), I've come to realize that line of thinking was missing the mark.
Over the course of the last year, I've noticed a big shift in how I think about sustainability in fashion. Whereas I used to frame it as a problem, something to be solved, I now frame it as a symptom, something to be treated. Sustainability isn't the root cause, it's the product of a deeper issue. The question isn't how much are we buying, but, why are we buying so much? Facts aren't required here; empathy and understanding are.
My contention, and my reason for launching this website, is that, we (collectively, again) are buying so much because we're trying to fill the deep and genuine need we have for a sense of personal style with things we're told will make us look...(fill in the blank: beautiful, glamorous, polished, successful, attractive- whatever your personal desires for your appearance might be). Fashion marketing leads us to believe we can buy our way to style, but we can't.
Life has taught me that we can't fill our need for something with anything else, for example, love from others won't suffice to fill our need for self-love, and so forth. We can't fill our desire for style with clothing. We'll end up with a lot of clothes, but no surer of who we are in those clothes. Sustainable fashion then isn't about knowing the ins and outs of how cotton is made, it's about knowing the ins and outs of ourselves. I believe we won't want to buy endless clothes if we've spent the time doing the work to explore who we are and what we want to say in our clothes. We'll realize our style isn't about having a million different things, but a few that make us feel as exceptional, unique, and distinctive as we are. We'll realize that instead of wanting to buy something that makes us look like someone else, we'll only want to buy whatever it is that makes us look, and feel, like ourselves.