Am I imagining there is too much clothing in the world? We (in the west) have bulging wardrobes already and the shops are full of new season temptations, with slightly different prints, shapes and styles from the last.
People in the business of selling more do not want to hear talk of reduced consumption. They are selling newer, better, brighter, shinier, prettier. The recent opening of a Forever 21 fast-fashion store in Brisbane even made the Nine News nightly bulletin and Brisbane Times newspaper. As the story goes, it is all about ‘something new, something fresh every day’.
I am adopting an alternative approach to something fresh everyday. The Sew it Again project is posting something fresh every day by upcycling clothing that already exists, rather than buying new. It is a social-change project, based on the premise that the ‘greenest’ clothing is that which already exists in the world. By upcycling garments from our own and others wardrobes, we can have something ‘new’ created from reject or unworn garments.
The project aims to shift thinking about the way we consume clothing and textiles. It engages old-fashioned sewing skills, encourages a culture of thrift, and reflects concern for where mindless consumption of fast fashion is leading.
The graph below demonstrates that average annual consumption of new clothing has increased from 7kg per person in 1992 to 11kg per person in 2010 – and it is no doubt higher now in 2014. We don’t read much about this 80 percent increase in individual consumption of clothing and textiles in the popular press. Advertisers no doubt discourage stories on the topic because they are in the business of encouraging consumption and selling more to people who don’t need it. Jane Milburn wrote about this endless spending on the Textile Beat website. The other trend that is evident from the graph below, is that two-thirds of clothing is now synthetic, made from non-renewable petroleum, coal and gas.
Of course we need new clothes – but we do not need them new every day. Moderation is the key to conserving the finite resources on the planet for future generations.
I had another opportunity to day to work with a group of teenagers today – including Elle who is featuring as Sew 298 in a refashion of a long-sleeved dress that wasn’t being worn.
We cut off the sleeves, took the dress in the shoulder-seams and side-seams under the arms to fit her better before neatening the sleeve edges using bias-binding. We reshaped the hem at the front and then used the sleeve off-cuts to create a phone pouch. Fabulous Job Elle, great to have you doing refash in the Textile Beat studio!