Photo from @natkelley on Instagram
It’s undeniable; celebrities and fashion go hand in hand. It's almost impossible to imagine a red carpet without the designer gowns or a fashion magazine without movie stars. This deep symbiotic relationship between influencers and the fashion industry has contributed to the consumeristic patterns that torment our environment and our garment workers. However, actress, Nathalie Kelley, is setting an example for all other influencers by taking the #NoNewClothes challenge for a whole year.
For Kelley, the #NoNewClothes pledge means that in addition to only buying second hand or renting clothes, she will also decline new clothes gifted from fashion brands and turn down styling new clothes. The actress, who has appeared in TV shows such as Dynasty and The Vampire Diaries as well as Movies such as The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, wrote for Remake "the fact that my consumption habits were contributing to our current climate crisis was a particularly hard truth for me to swallow."
For those of us who aspire to emulate the likes of influencers and celebrities in the golden age of social media, it can feel like being an “outfit repeater” is a revolting fashion crime; exactly how the fast fashion giants want you to feel. Veiled in glamour and status, the habit of wearing an outfit once for a photo is the kind of consumeristic obsession that the fast fashion industry thrives on and the kind of behaviour that destroys the planet. Consider this, if a celebrity posts on Instagram twice a week wearing a different outfit in each photo, that’s 104 outfits that will most likely never be worn again. With all of this pressure to constantly be seen in new clothes, It’s no wonder that in the past 17 years, the average person’s clothing consumption has increased by 60% leading to an estimated 148 million tonnes of landfill textile waste by the year 2030. And, although the average person might not have the budget to only wear an outfit once, our statistics aren’t much better. The average garment is worn 7 times before it’s tossed or donated meaning that the typical American throws out 81 pounds of clothing a year. Now, these statistics are definitely startling and discouraging, but we have the opportunity to change our consumption habits for the better.
The implicit message is that what you wore last year won’t get you the same amount of Instagram likes this year. And for a generation that has bought into the instant gratification and validation that social media brings us, this is a powerful marketing strategy.
By taking the #NoNewClothes pledge you can reset your relationship with fashion, boycott a mostly despicable industry*, save money, and learn to love the clothes you already have! There are so many amazing options nowadays for obtaining second-hand clothes. You can go thrift shopping, browse resale sites, rent some fancy occasion regalia from clothing rental sites, or swap in your old threads for “new to you” clothes from Swap Society. Another, even more, sustainable option, is to upcycle or tailor your clothes. Adding embroidered details to cover a hole in your favourite shirt or getting a pair of pants tailored to finally fit you is the best way to utilize your entire wardrobe without buying anything new. With so many alternatives to fast fashion, there is really no excuse to continue the consumption cycle of store-to-closet-to-landfill. So if you are tired of supporting an industry that consistently harms its workers and produces enough pollution to contend with the oil and gas industry, join Nathalie Kelley in the #NoNewClothes challenge.
*There are a growing number of sustainable and ethical brands that treat their workers well and pay them fairly, with manufacturing practices that are mindful of the earth. If and when you do buy something new, please support the brands that are a positive force in the fashion industry.
Lauren Tjoe lives in Vancouver, Canada and is currently attending the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. Lauren has always been involved with philanthropic initiatives and, while working on a human rights project, found herself down a fast fashion rabbit hole. From that point, Lauren has been a passionate advocate for sustainable and ethical fashion, often making her own clothes rather than buying new!