Stay ahead of fash­ion by slow­ing it down

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - OPINION - CRAIG and MARC KIELBURGER Craig and Marc Kielburger are the co-founders of the WE move­ment, which in­cludes WE Char­ity, ME to WE So­cial En­ter­prise and WE Day. For more dis­patches from WE, check out WE Sto­ries.

Raise the selfie stick, strike a pose and, wait! Did you post that out­fit al­ready?

With fast fash­ion brands ag­gres­sively mar­ket­ing new wardrobes for ev­ery sea­son and con­sumers act­ing as our own In­sta­gram pa­parazzi, there’s daily pres­sure to be seen in some­thing new and trend-set­ting.

This sum­mer, news leaked that Burberry burned al­most $50 mil­lion in old stock just to main­tain that pres­sure and ex­clu­siv­ity.

The Bri­tish fash­ion la­bel an­nounced it will stop burn­ing clothes, and though it’s re­as­sur­ing to see brands re­spond to crit­i­cism, con­sumers need to make our own changes.

Ac­cord­ing to one ex­pert, 80 per cent of the clothes we buy don’t get out of the closet much. Stud­ies show we’re con­sum­ing 400 per cent more clothing than we did 20 years ago, back when you could wear the same flan­nel-and-baggy-jean combo for a week and call it ’90s grunge.

“The sys­tem is bro­ken and we need to change it,” says Kelly Dren­nan, founder of the Toronto-based fash­ion sus­tain­abil­ity group Fash­ion Takes Ac­tion.

Dren­nan prac­tises “slow fash­ion,” a move­ment fo­cused on slow­ing wardrobe turnover through­out the fash­ion life cy­cle and at ev­ery stage of life.

From new par­ents deal­ing with the flood of gifted baby clothes, to the teenager who wants a new wardrobe ev­ery Septem­ber, to the newly pro­moted of­fice manager who needs an ap­parel up­grade, slow fash­ion means em­brac­ing the seven Rs: not just re­duce, re­use, re­cy­cle, but also re­search, re­pair, re­pur­pose and rent.

Re­search can min­i­mize en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. Check out Good On You, an app that rates the eco-friend­li­ness of ap­parel for kids and adults, or look for brands like Petit Pli, which uses ex­pand­ing pleats to makes clothes that grow with your child from new­born to tod­dler.

Dren­nan also rec­om­mends clothing swaps to keep those adorable one­sies on cute ba­bies instead of in land­fills.

En­cour­age older kids to mend items or even bring new life to used pieces at a sewing class.

Fash­ion Takes Ac­tion of­fers My Clothes, My World, a school pro­gram that teaches kids about slow fash­ion and cul­mi­nates with de­sign­ing hand­bags out of old T-shirts. What we par­ents wore in high school is vin­tage now.

For teens and adults, clothing rental ser­vices of­fer a sus­tain­able way to wear more cur­rent styles. With Cana­dian com­pa­nies such as Rent Frock Re­peat and Boro, you can rock a de­signer dress for one-third to one-tenth of the re­tail price, all the highs of re­tail ther­apy with­out the crash of the full credit card bill.

Bonus: Boro sources its stock from cus­tomers’ clos­ets, so you can rent out out­fits you don’t wear any­more. And it makes the prac­tice more sus­tain­able.

Fash­ion blog­gers also are em­brac­ing the cap­sule wardrobe, a small ro­ta­tion of clas­sic, qual­ity pieces you mix and match year­round, and change up with smaller ac­ces­sories. Each item might cost more, but you’ll buy less and get bet­ter mileage over­all.

“You’re go­ing to take bet­ter care be­cause you paid more for it,” says Dren­nan.

A sig­na­ture look made with fewer pieces leads to less trend-chas­ing.

At ev­ery stage of life, there’s more we can do to cut down our fash­ion con­sump­tion from the crib to the cat­walk.

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