I was listening to a goop podcast recently in which Gwyneth Paltrow chatted to Oprah about everything from meditation to recent movements in our culture.
Inevitably the topic of #Metoo and and sexual harassment came up and Gwyneth asked Oprah, ‘why do you think it became such a phenomenon now, even though there have been lots of cases of women coming forward in the past years?’ To which Oprah explained it was due to actresses relatability and the critical mass of people talking about it, aligned with the misogynist political situation in America.
’The culture of enough’ Gwyneth said.
That term really stuck with me, because that’s why I feel there is a space for sustainable fashion to even exist and be talked about in the industry. It’s the reason holistic medicine, plant-based eating, zero waste and minimalism have a voice and an audience.
There has been an excess of just about everything since the boom of mass industrialisation in the 50s and the new generations are now having to face the issues this has brought on, climate change, waste (ie. did you know every toothbrush you ever used is still on the planet?!). People have just had enough of stuff that only has a short life span, medicine that only heals or shifts symptoms instead of curing the root problem, food that only gives you a short-term effect of satisfaction followed by a series of health issues, fashion that only lasts a season if at all.
People already working in the space of sustainable fashion, like to think that the Rana Plaza disaster was the turning point for the fashion industry. Whilst this might be true for a very small percentage of consumers, the truth is that it barely changed anything. As much as it pains me to say this, it was too far from our homes. As Westerners we can’t relate to it because we don’t know those people, their lives, their daily struggle to provide for their families let alone themselves. Even if we have seen imagery or videos of these people, its very likely we will forget the next time we walk by H&M and see a cute dress we really really want - no, “need”.
So how can anything change?
Let’s take the #Metoo movement as an example. Sexual harassment is not a new phenomenon and if you are a girl you probably have experienced it in one of its many forms and levels. You have probably exchanged stories with your girlfriends and yet sadly, as much as you were annoyed at it there was a sense that this was ‘normal’ and nothing could be changed. Men were either unaware of the magnitude of the problem or didn’t know what could be done.
The reason why it became such a phenomenon recently is simply because so many actresses spoke out about the issue and it’s as simple as this: public figures are relatable to us. They could just be our friends because in the movies they play characters we can relate to in stories we can relate to. They have money and power and are not living in a third world country where abuse is almost taken for granted by Westerners. They are like us and it happens to them too. Shocking.
At the same time there was a socio-political landscape filled with misogyny - how is it possible that the president of the United States has been recorded on tape saying “let’s grab them by the pussy” and is in charge of leading such powerful country?! Enough, it’s time to act, because if the president won’t change things, we must.
For the fashion industry to make the change into more ethical practises, sadly I believe something similar has to happen. Something relatable to westerners, it has to happen to someone that could be just your friend down the street and therefore affect you too. At the same time the socio-politcal landscape must line up for people to say ‘enough is enough’.
Not to end this on a negative note, but I only hope it won’t be too late by then.
The jumpsuits is by sustainable brand Jungle Folk and is made from 100% organic cotton. The T-shirt is also in organic cotton by People Tree, the shoes are Veja and the bad was a little hand woven gift my mom brought back from her trip to Marocco!
explore how I have previously worn some of the items in this post