Do you know who made your clothes? Is it something you have ever thought about? For most of us the answer is ‘no’. Should you care who made your clothes? Absofreakinlutely!
Fashion Revolution is a global movement aimed at making people more aware of the effect the clothes they choose have on the environment. Their #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign encourages consumers to ask the fashion world this basic question.
Ballito-based international model, Pieter Black, made a decision to whole-heartedly adopt this concept in both his work and private life after a shocking first-hand experience of the ugly face of fast fashion during a modelling job.
“’Fast fashion’ is an anxiety-provoking topic for me. A few years ago, I was at a job in India for an e-commerce conglomerate and I remember walking into the studio, Starbucks in hand. Food was served and it all looked great, until I got a glimpse of what was happening behind the studio setup. I saw mass production in atrocious conditions. I immediately told the client that I could not do this job and decided to find out more about what was happening behind the scenes of the glitzy, glamorous fashion world.”
Pieter pledged to become a vocal supporter of proudly local fashion and encourage the conversation of #WhoMadeMyClothes.
“I understand why people buy cheap clothes and fall into the fast fashion trap. It’s convenient and allows you to update your wardrobe on a minimal budget. I used to do it too, but after seeing what the making of fast fashion looks like, I started to think twice about how ‘expensive’ cheap clothes actually are. The price is paid in human blood – and the environment pays for it too. Fashion is one of the biggest polluters globally – from the dyes used in fabrics that end up in our water to the tons of clothes that are sent to dumps.”
This, Pieter says, is where the slow fashion trend comes in – and the concept is super simple: more quality, less quantity . . . and know who made your clothes! “I wear clothes that I bought from local brands ten years ago – and they are still stylish! Supporting local just makes sense. You are boosting the economy and combating unemployment, which in turn reduces crime.”
By opting for re-purposed fashion, pre-loved clothes and fabrics made from recyclables, we are not only buying sustainable fashion for the environment, but supporting our talented local designers too. “It’s time for us, and the world, to look to Africa when it comes to design and setting trends. We always aspire to ‘Americanise’ everything, but America doesn’t really have style and Europe has reached a ceiling, so people are looking at Africa for something new and fresh. This is our time and we have the skills and creativity to do it.”
The future of fashion should be based on hyper local trends, says Pieter, rather than global ones. “We shouldn’t have to follow one big trend. Each continent, or country even, should have their own trends and support their local people. Fashion should be redefined. Eco fashion shouldn’t have to be a thing – it should be the norm. We need to be conscious about our carbon footprint and our choices.”
By choosing to be more consumer conscious, Pieter says, we are choosing a more humane and environmentally friendly route. “There is an inner Greta (Thunberg) in all of us. But this narcissistic, fast world hides her and instead we get caught up with chasing the perfect selfie. Bomb the servers! Instead of spending hours scrolling through often insignificant nonsense on social media, let’s use the time to feed our minds and become more valuable assets to the existence of humanity.”
By taking a step back and educating yourself about how you can improve your consumer behaviour, you start to give back to your community, the climate and ultimately yourself. “When you understand where your clothes came from, you will feel good buying them because that shirt supports someone who is feeding a family. Do yourself a favour and support local and be part of the solution. It affects you and everyone else.”
Join us as we go on a proudly local, sustainable fashion journey with Pieter Black and chat to local designers, models and role-players in the eco fashion world in our soon-to-be-launched video series: Get It Online – Sustainably Stylish. Follow us on Facebook Get It Magazine Ballito.Umhlanga and Instagram to keep up to date and look out for our sneak preview coming soon. Watch this space!
Text: Elana Wagner | Photo: Alexandra Klöhn