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This article was originally submitted by Ruqaiya Ibrahim
When we hear the words “sustainable fashion”, the adjectives that come into our minds are something like; expensive, ugly and high maintenance.
While that is not true most of the times, the irony with a country like Pakistan is, most of the Pakistanis don’t even know what sustainable fashion is. How what we wear can pollute the environment is a threat that needs to be contained on an urgent basis.
Now, as of late, there are a number of fashion brands that have surfaced with their sustainability campaigns in Pakistan.
However, there is still a lot of uncertainty and lack of awareness devoted to dressing sustainably. It is certainly good news that leading brands are adopting measures; to show consciousness and responsibility towards environmental pollution, but the measures as a whole are not even close to enough.
First of all, a large number of people are still not accepting the whole phenomena of sustainable fashion. This is due to the lack of fact-checking as to how the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world (yes, you read it right).
Secondly, a lot of brands have only a collection or two devoted to sustainability and some are producing pieces that are only 20% (or less) made from sustainable means.
The Addiction to Fast Fashion
The term fast fashion has a different connotation in Pakistan. In fact, it’s the real fashion. People want to look stylish and they don’t want to do that at the expense of burning a hole in their pockets. Fast fashion is trendy, cheap and easily accessible; it is a cheap luxury.
With a recent wave in the inflation rate and taxes, it has become increasingly harder for people to be mindful about their buying behaviours. The hand to mouth situation of a lot of households (which is most of the households anyway) does not let them dress mindfully and sustainably; the only resort is fast fashion, buying which, sadly, is not that rueful for most people.
The Need to Take Baby Steps and the Future of Ethical Fashion
While increased taxes and soaring inflation rates are promoting the growth of fast fashion, they can also be used against it. The solution is simple. In the west, there are a number of platforms that offer pre-used clothing and accessories like Depop and Poshmark.
Such platforms are also needed in Pakistan. Dressing sustainably and cheaply CAN actually go hand in hand. Buying from thrift stores, swapping clothes, renting out articles of clothing and buying gently-used-before items are just a few options. In addition to that, wearing your clothes just a few more times than you usually do and buying just one secondhand article of clothing can have a huge environmental impact.
Sounds easy, right?
There are a number of designers that are sticking to producing and selling sustainable items only. But they are one of the pioneers and they need support to stay afloat. If only customers will be more receptive to them, it will persuade other leading brands to jump on the bandwagon too; which will only accelerate the process.
It is high time that we understand our responsibilities toward this planet and begin charity at home. Start taking action and break the stigma associated with buying second-hand.