For a recent university project, we were assigned groups in creating a video about a social issue close to our heart. My teammate and I decided to focus on the topic of “fast fashion,” and the alternatives to it. Since both of us are fairly invested in this topic, we went into this project with quite a bit of knowledge. So we didn’t expect to be very surprised by our participants’ motivations and reasonings.
However, in the process of locating people to interview, and while conducting the interviews, we were proven wrong. For both of us, the reasons for practicing “fair fashion” is quite simple: it seems the right thing to do from an ethical point of view; one should not support sweat shop labor, environmental pollution and so forth. However, for our participants, there were more shades of grey to this than we anticipated.
For one of our interviewees, the main reasons actually weren’t of an ethical nature. What was really central to her was the need to use her financial resources as efficiently as possible. Now, one could argue that “fast fashion” retailers are “perfect” for saving money and budgeting. However, in her case, the need to budget was paired with the longing for individuality and the desire to express herself creatively. The combination of all these factors led her to the path of sustainable fashion without having consciously made that decision.
For another one of our interviewees, the reasons were also more practical, and less ethically motivated. She studied liberal arts with a focus on fashion. During her time studying, she noticed that she could never find vintage shops with a selection that satisfied her. After she finished her studies, she simply decided to open her own store, and has since deepened her interest in “fair fashion.” Just as with the first interviewee, she was not primarily driven by the desire to act ethically.
For us, this was a new perspective from which to view this topic. It has definitely enabled us to gain insights into the different routes that lead to conscious fashion choices.