When it comes to thinking and writing about sustainability in fashion, the usual train of thought would be to start searching for “sustainable” labels. And in recent years, it’s become commonplace for brands on every end of the spectrum to tout using recycled nylon/plastic/what have you in their collections. We can’t help but wonder if these (well-intentioned) moves miss the larger point; that production (and consumption) of things remains the key issue that no one likes to acknowledge directly.
As the fashion-trained sustainability writer Xingyun Shen told us last year, buying your way out of the situation isn’t really a long-term solution. “I feel like whenever the conversation turns to this (sustainability) topic, it’s always about where and what to buy from; what brands should one buy in order to be sustainable. It’s always about buying, but the important thing is to move away from that transactional mindset,” she said.
“If you ask me, I’d like to see a conscious shift away from consumption or at least consuming new products all the time; to move away from overbuying and overconsuming. It’s very easy to become daunted and overwhelmed when you start educating yourself on this huge topic, but this shift from overconsumption – done by re-evaluating your relationship with your wardrobe – is something within consumers’ control.”
Cue Inside Your Wardrobe, a new study by Singapore-based fashion sustainability enterprise The Fashion Pulpit and real estate giant City Developments Limited that aims to introduce a softer, more introspective take on sustainability.
The study (take part here) invites participants of any kind (as long as you’re a “wearer of clothes”) to take a meditative approach to re-evaluating our relationship with the clothes we already own (hence the name Inside Your Wardrobe, geddit?).
What you have to do: Go through your wardrobe systematically, and document the number of pieces of clothing. There are probably many pieces that haven’t been worn in a long time or pieces that you hardly reach for due to a number of reasons.
Clothes-buying is often an emotional process and it changes as we go through things such as different life stages, budgets or climates. Extraordinary situations, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, is another key factor – where some consumers gravitated towards lounge and activewear, while others “invested” in hard luxury items such as fine jewellery.
What is common, however, is the desire for something new. This study hopes to inspire deeper introspection and reflection in the way we look at what we own, keep and repeatedly wear, our roles as participants in the larger fashion system (e.g. consumption habits), and offer a prospect of a different, more intentional relationship with fashion consumption.
Some of Singapore’s leading voices in the sustainability/fashion fields are also taking part, such as culinary anthropologist Nithiya Laila, independent fashion writer and researcher Weiqi Yap, photographer Rachel Loh, model, producer and host Nadia Kishlan, singer Joie Tan and more.
Intrigued? Head here to start the survey – data from this study will be published in February 2022 and the study is seeking at least 750 responses for a more substantive understanding.