Thoughts about the sharing economy

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. 

Comments (6)

  • manicure


    07 April 2017 at 12:22 | #

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  • Sabina DR

    Sabina DR

    24 December 2016 at 20:46 | #

    Love this post. Great food for thought. And I agree for two reasons. One is the fashion & trends aspects of clothes is a bit (in my opinion) of an addiction. The feeling of getting new clothes, the 'wants' that fashion industry works hard to instil in us and the empty feeling when we get (fast) what we thought we wanted. Such clothes services may feed into this industry of wanting new things (but maybe not, I haven't tried it). Two, I think responsibility for our clothes is important. That we shoulder the responsibility for what we acquire, wear and dispose of. These services are sort of responsible for us. And as you say that's ok if they act responsibly on our behalf (but how do we know? Responsible purchase is only part of it, care, recycling and disposal is just as important). I love that there is so much consciousness in the maker community, it is so inspiring. It would be wonderful too if more mainstream fashion bloggers showed some awareness. After all, no one can be completely unaware of the problems these days. So my bet is that their resistance is due to the addiction aspect of fashion


  • Mara


    16 December 2016 at 12:10 | #

    What a great post and I totally get what you mean... but... I do think in some cases a fashion library is a great idea. For me Lena is something I want to give a try in 2017, being a sales rep means being well dressed and fashionable (for at least a bit) 5 days a week and I do feel pressure when it comes to my outfits. When going to a congres or when giving a presentation I don't want to wear the same outfit every time and being aware of my consuming on one hand and feeling the pressure for being well dressed (with loads of different outfits) on the other hand Lena can be working for me. I don't have to buy new outfits (although mostly organic or vintage so still with a bit of awareness ) but I can barrow outfits that will give me confidence in my work but won't make me me feel bad because of consumerism....


    • Ioana


      18 December 2016 at 11:00 | #

      I understand exactly what you mean. Some jobs do create a lot of pressure to project a certain look and in this case such a service is invaluable. And I do applaud the conscious decision of platforms such as Lena to provide only ethically produced clothing. But imagine that another platform would not have these values at heart... What I am saying that in order for the sharing economy to be different that the "normal" economy, it also has to embrace certain values, and to educate customers.


  • Ana


    16 December 2016 at 09:24 | #

    I just had kind of the same thoughts yesterday but with yarn. I'm relatively new in the knitting world and I'm starting to be surprised with the amount of yarn we tend to buy just because it's beautiful ( and maybe local, organic etc) even if we finish not having the time to knit with them, just because we have too much yarn in our stash to work with. We are (some of us) trying to make special clothes that will last forever but at the same time we are ( and I include myself) falling in the same consumerism and even fashion that with mainstream culture. I don't know if I expressed my idea clearly, as English is not my mother language! Thanks for sharing!


    • Ioana


      16 December 2016 at 11:36 | #

      dear Ana, thank you for sharing your thoughts! And I am completely agreeing with you, as I have the same kind of talks lately about the contradiction between values and yarn-hoarding habits. I am also guilty, I admit that. But the more we reflect and talk about this, I think it will help to make better choices.


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