Lure Of Luxe

What with all the buzz around fast fashion and the evils of consumerism, becoming sustainable-chic seems to be, according to numerous recent eco-friendly fashion guides, on the top of shoppers’ New Year’s resolutions list.

Skeins dyed naturally with madder root, hanging to dry, at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Recycled skeins dyed naturally with madder root, hanging to dry, at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Aiming to raise consumer awareness about environmental concerns linked to the fashion and textile industries, various publications promote the use of healthier natural products like eco-friendly dyed fabrics, while addressing issues such as recycling, fair trade, water wastage resulting from cotton cultivation and deforestation due to excessive cattle ranching and leather production.

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In her book, Sustainable Luxe: A Guide to Feel Good Fashion, Jordan Phillips, rebels against ‘McFashion’, or “…a mass delusion that is a democratic right for everyone to purchase cheap clothing that looks luxe”, while recommending women to buy less but of higher quality and use their spending power to support labels or retailers engaged in protecting workers in developing countries and preserving traditional crafts, thus encouraging creativity.

Phillips also makes an interesting analogy between food and fashion consumption. If consumers now increasingly avoid processed foods and scrutinize labels to ensure that the contents are free of additives, choose quality over quantity when buying meat, and willingly go to several markets or specialised stores for vegetables and bio products, for instance, they should soon enough become just as conscious for their clothes and check tags for ‘hand-made’, ‘fair trade’ and ‘eco-friendly’, while accepting to pay a reasonable price.
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Furthermore, as Elizabeth L. Cline writes in Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion: “Clothes could have more meaning and longevity if we think less about owning the latest or cheapest thing and develop more of a relationship with the things we wear. Building a wardrobe over time, saving up and investing in well-made pieces, obsessing over the perfect hem, luxuriating in fabrics, and patching and altering our clothes are old-fashioned habits. But they’re also deeply satisfying antidotes to the empty uniformity of cheapness.”

However, regular fast fashion shoppers would argue that ‘need’ was hardly part of the equation in the first place and that young consumers can’t afford to spend more on clothes anyway. Actually, budget fashion probably owes its success to the fact that for a long time mid-range, affordable clothes weren’t even close to being trendy enough and there seemed to be a gap in the market for teen fashion.
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Moreover, global brands have taken an eco-friendly stance since Greenpeace’s Fashion Detox campaign, launched in 2011, which resulted in investigations in manufacturing countries and the testing of garments by known brands to find traces of hazardous chemicals. Numerous famous labels including PUMA, H&M, Zara, M&S, Benetton, Valentino, Uniqlo, Mango and Levi’s, among many others, have committed to eliminating the use of chemicals released during their manufacturing process, while informing consumers and improving their business practices by 2020.

All in all, like many modern, recession-stricken fashion consumers, we are most likely to mix and match well-made items with more affordable ones, and reasonably invest in good wardrobe basics, vintage fashion and costume jewellery, which can be worn with more than one outfit, in an attempt to become wiser, more responsible shoppers.

Source: New Europe

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