Much of the blame for these saddening statistics must lie with ‘fast fashion’, and the mindless practice of buying cheap clothing far more often than is necessary, simply because it’s cheap. As Livia Firth pointed out in 2015’s watershed documentary The True Cost, “They’re making us believe we are wealthy because we can buy a lot. I don’t want other women to be kept poor just so that I can feel rich.”
Just as 2001’s Fast Food Nation changed our views on cheap food, The True Cost did much to change our views on cheap clothing. Firth, who co-produced the film, is a passionate advocate of sustainability; her company, Eco Age, has helped hundreds of luxury fashion brands, including Gucci, Chopard and Sergio Rossi, to improve their supply chains. “We need to buy less and buy better,” she said at a press conference for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, Eco Age’s most recent initiative, launched to encourage trade networks and sustainability across different states.
In this respect, never has the argument for luxury fashion been more persuasive. Few people can afford to drape themselves head to toe in designer labels, but most people, when pressed, would admit that if they bought less, they could definitely buy better. Which is more likely to last a lifetime: a high-street handbag or a designer one that has been handcrafted by artisans?
You are far less likely to replace something that cost a lot, or that you had to save for.