• PhotoGenie

Why We Use What We Have - Slow Fashion Season 2019

Updated: Jul 13, 2019

This week’s Photogenie theme is titled "Less to Impress".

Through visual stories, our curators research the question “How are you impacting the clothing industry?”

In this article, Photogenie’s Noura and Myrthe tell you about their decision to stop buying new clothes.

Just a few days ago, I stumbled on a CollAction project called ‘Slow Fashion Season 2019’, an initiative to promote the use of ‘slow fashion’. With as many people as possible, the collective tries to commit to using what we already have, instead of buying fast-fashion clothing. I was happy to see that slow fashion is getting a foothold across social media. I myself stopped buying fast-fashion clothing seven months ago, which is a decision I still stand by. I’m using the clothes that I have and I am making new combinations every day. You can do it as well! Not convinced yet? Read why Photogenies Noura and I (Myrthe) decided to stop buying new clothes and get inspired to do the same.

Fast-fashion has a huge impact on our earth. The clothing industry is one of the most polluting industries, with large amounts of toxic waste released during the dyeing process and high CO2 emissions due to the transport of products across the world. Additionally, production is being moved to countries where labour wages are low. People end up working in sweatshops under unlawful conditions, sometimes involving child labour. The industry is growing rapidly, even when our wardrobes are already filled to the maximum. Because honestly, when you buy a T-shirt, you wear it two or three times and then throw it out to replace it with a new model. How can we limit this consumerism?

Meet Noura!

My name is Noura Oul Fakir and I’m 23 years old. I study sociology at the University of Utrecht, have a part-time job at Ace & Tate and I’m a researcher and writer for Photogenie. I have been thrift shopping since I was a teenager but I (kind of) stopped buying new clothes approximately two years ago.

What do you think of the fast-fashion clothing industry?

Fast-fashion is a polluting industry. Cheap and low-quality products are leaving people unsatisfied with their purchase, which results in more and more buying. A t-shirt often doesn’t last longer than a few months. Also, this idea or feeling of not being satisfied is enforced through the fact that new items come in every week corresponding with the new ‘trends’. People don’t even get the time to enjoy what they have bought because they are only reminded of what they don’t yet have.

Besides, I think the fast-fashion industry is the embodiment of the capitalist system. Production is moved to countries where there are lower wages compared to the ones paid for employers in Western countries. Paying them below minimum is ‘justified’ by the fact that life in these countries is cheaper and therefore they don’t need that much. The workers in these factories are being exploited by working ridiculous hours and sometimes undergo different forms of abuse. All this, to keep up with the demand from fast-fashion brands and the demand from consumers not willing to pay reasonable prices.

Why did you decide to stop buying new clothes?

I studied Fashion & Management and during my study, I came to the realization that I do not support the commercial mindset. Almost all of my clothing and accessories are thrifted. Most of the time I do not like the fabrics or fit of clothing sold in high street shops. That is not the case with some beautiful (and expensive) brands, but I’m a student. Buying from these expensive brands is not an option since it’s completely out of my budget.

Thrift-shopping is a way for me to buy nice items for reasonable prices and it sort of has the ‘sustainability’ effect since you reuse what is already there. The items I find are, most of the time, of high quality, made from interesting fabrics and the fact that it feels ‘unique’ does some good too.

Also, in comparison with high street stores, you never know what you’re going to find in a thrift shop. Sometimes you find nothing and other times you have the best finds ever.

Do you have tips and tricks for people who want to limit their clothing consumption?

Go through your closet and analysing what items you miss or want to add. Keep this in mind or make a note in your phone so whenever you go out shopping, you have a guide on what to buy and come home with a piece that’s an actual addition to your wardrobe.

Also, mix and match. Sometimes all you need is to take time to make new combinations of the items you already have instead of buying new ones.

Meet Myrthe!

My name is Myrthe Peek. I’m 22 years old, I work for Friethoes Frietbakkers and write blogs and stories for Photogenie. I worked in a small thrift shop in Haarlem for three years and I have always bought and used second-hand clothing. Seven months ago, I decided to stop buying new clothing completely.

What do you think of the fast-fashion clothing industry?

I agree with Noura, the fast-fashion industry makes use of a low-cost production process by moving their factories to foreign countries. Clothing is therefore transported multiple times across the globe before it is distributed over stores. Many clothing brands provide bad working conditions for their employees, low salaries and are sometimes even involved in child labour. I don’t want to support that.

Also, I’m concerned about the well-being of the planet. We keep producing new textiles, while the existing textiles are piling up. When we use second-hand clothing, we reuse textiles that are already produced. Besides, the production process is polluting air and water, new clothing contributes to the waste problem.

Why did you decide to stop buying new clothes?

I wanted to stop buying new items for a long time after I wrote an article for my studies on the climate impact of the fast-fashion industry. Hazardous paints are used in de dyeing process of textiles and these pollutants are released into the environment through the used water. So many well-known brands are contributing to this pollution and many of their customers don’t have a clue about it!

At first, I decided to go for good quality sustainable brands, which are better than the fast-fashion chains, but they are still putting more clothes into the world. I have enough clothes, they don’t even fit into my closet anymore. That’s when I decided I would only use the items that I have or buy clothes that were already used. The nice thing about buying second-hand clothing is that you know that the quality is good enough to last. If the items lasted long enough to survive the first buyer, they will probably last even longer. New, bad quality t-shirts are worn-out within months, but a 70’s second-hand t-shirt from a thrift shop has already lasted 45 years!

Do you have tips and tricks for people who want to limit their clothing consumption?

For the Dutchies among us, I would say: check out the IJhallen market! There are a lot of people selling their clothes, and not all of them are used. Buying second-hand doesn’t necessarily mean buying items from the 70ies or 80ies, there are many people selling more modern clothing as well.

Do you want to join the challenge and stop buying new clothes? You can try it out for three months together with the initiative ‘Slow Fashion Season 2019’. If 10.000 people commit not to buy new clothes from June 21st to September 21st, we’ll save the earth a lot of trouble! And if you like it, you can even stop buying altogether. There is no harm in trying it out, are you joining us?

For more information on the ‘Slow Fashion Season 2019’ head to https://bit.ly/2Wev9EX

Let us know what you think in the comments! Our weekly themes always include three photo series by different photographers.

Are you interested and do you want to stay posted? Make sure to follow PhotoGenie on Instagram @wearecurators.

Written by Myrthe Peek

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