Clothing: An essential, everyday commodity that we easily take for granted? Or a delicately constructed second skin to value and adore?
It is easy to ignore the hard work and stories behind clothing when there is an abundance of cheap fashion and trends change so fast most of us don’t have the time to keep up. The habit of constantly buying something new instead of rediscovering items we already own has grown rapidly over the past years and created a throwaway culture encouraged through fast fashion and social media.
According to a report by WRAP, around 30% of clothing in the average UK wardrobe has not been worn for at least a year. That is 30 items in a wardrobe of 100. Some of the reasons are that the clothes no longer fit or are out of style. An estimated 1.13 million tonnes of unwanted clothing are discarded in the UK each year, of which approximately 350.000 tonnes end up in landfill.
Although reusing and recycling is better than clothing ending up in landfill, this alone is not a solution to the problem. Clothes should be produced, bought, and worn with more thought.
Clothes used to have value. They were adored, cherished, and cared for with respect. Dress and clothing were considered as wealth; as something precious, much like gold or jewels. We need to rediscover some of this appreciation for the things we wear. Instead of viewing clothing as cheap and disposable, like so often is the case now, we should acknowledge its value and treat it as an extension of our selves.
The production process of clothing is much more efficient than it was over a century ago but it still requires a lot of work and people to do the work. Anyone who has given sewing a go should know that constructing a garment does not happen the way it does in Disney’s Cinderella. Cheap clothing usually only means that someone did not get payed for the work.
Because cheap clothing is easily available and the selection of styles and variations is beyond overwhelming, it is easy to buy something without thinking about how it came to be.
However, every seam has its story. Some seams are carefully planned to get the perfect fit. Some seams are easier to make than others. Some seams are stronger, some simply decorative. Different fabrics require different seams, and the more seams you have the more work there is in constructing the garment.
And, there are people behind all those seams…
We should value the work that goes into a piece of clothing and the stories behind it. Clothing should be created and worn with love and respect; thoughtfully designed and manufactured, worn with emotion, washed and dried with care, mended when broken, and given to someone else to love if not wanted anymore.
Clothing should be treated like the amazing thing it is and not be taken for granted. Just like your own skin, clothing; your second skin, can be a sophisticated and complicated mix of several little parts and processes. Your clothing carries traces of people with many different stories. And just think, because of these people you can express yourself and, wearing the everyday armour of your choice, confidently face whatever the world brings your way.
So next time you get dressed, think about the stories: ‘Who made the pattern?’ ‘Who sewed the shoulder seams?’ ‘Who attached the buttons?’, and take a moment to appreciate the work that was put into your second skin. And when you buy something new, try to find a brand that shares those stories with you. A brand that proudly tells you how your clothes were made.
If you would like some tips on how to care for your second skin click your way over here for some care instructions and how to add the 5 R’s to your wardrobe.
Do the wardrobe challenge
And show your clothes some love!
And show your clothes some love!
Share the story behind a favourite piece in your wardrobe and you can win a ‘Fashion with Heart’ tote bag.
Go through the clothes in your wardrobe and find an item you love. Take a picture of it (hanging somewhere, as a flat lay, or of someone wearing it) and share its story on Instagram using #StoriesInMyWardrobe
What’s the story behind it; why and where did you buy it, what makes it you, why do you love it, when do you wear it, how does it make you feel?
Two winning stories will be selected from the hashtag.