Thoughts about the sharing economy
I think I am not very far from the truth when I propose that the making community has at its core the awareness that consumerism has had some very bad consequences for our society. It has led to a system of mass production of disposable items that encouraged fast consumption for cheap money and with no regard for the waste created. It has made casualties among the small producers everywhere and has transformed how we interact and relate to our clothes. Me, as a maker, I pledged to become more aware of my habits related to consumption. I make part of my clothes and making transfers value and meaning to them. I treasure the clothes that I make, I use the best materials affordable for me and I take the time to enjoy the process as well as the result. I do not have a vast wardrobe and I don’t feel the need to be “fashionable”.
This was not always like this. It took me time to change my habits and to let these ideas sink in and become a second nature. When I was poor, living in Romania, these ideas had little meaning and value. Shopping in second hand shops was not something to be particularly proud of. Making was not seen as something “hip”, something that one chooses, but mostly something necessary and associated with the status of being poor. Paying more for quality when you can pay less was kind of considered stupid. Local materials had less value just because they were (still are) associated with words such as “rural”, “peasant”, “not modern”. This changed. I now embrace my roots because in this acceptance of where I come from and appreciation of the cultural and material heritage of my origin land I could find my place and identity in the different and modern world I am living now.
I am now struggling with a new concept I came across. Sharing clothes. Not owning them. For some reason, it really bothers me that I cannot make the step toward fully accepting this lifestyle concept. I do think it has value – you can try a new style without having to change your whole wardrobe. Or you can borrow somethings special for a special occasion (how many party dresses are hanging in closets after being used just once?). But for some reason I am hesitant even though I came across a sharing platform that promotes good quality eco-friendly brands.
After a lot of reflection on this issue, I came to the conclusion that what’s bothering me is the fact that this type of sharing platforms is also in a way a facet of fast consumerism. When you can borrow clothes, even those clothes that have the right “background”, there is again the danger of treating them as disposable items. Instead of encouraging awareness about consumption, there is the danger of encouraging consumption without emotional or material strings attached. Changing clothes every day – because you can. Because even though initiatives who are promoting the good values and the good brands, they can’t control who enters their doors – it could be a fashionista who couldn’t care less where and how the clothes were made as long as she can wear an outfit every day.
I will end this post by just stating this: nothing is ever just black or white. And I believe that (self)education is the key to make even the hardcore fashionistas become more aware of their consumption habits. And when we all become more aware of our impact to this world we share, we can change our habits and work together toward making it a better place for us and for the next generation.
The thoughts in this post are mine and regard the general concept of sharing clothes economy, and not regarding a particular clothing sharing initiative.