When I wrote my thesis on the Second Life of Clothes, back in 2003, the idea of buying second hand was still very much related to poverty. At least, that was the convention. However, I wanted to prove there was an environmental, historical, and a stylish value attached to this idea. Times have changed. I think it is now quite clear that wearing one-of-a-kind designer vintage pieces reveals some fashion know-how and behind-the-scene concerns.
When I joined Instagram last summer for Foxtrot, I virtually met with Elizabeth Cline and discovered her book Overdressed: the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. It made me reconnect with my interest for long lasting objects and the second life of things. I realized that after almost 15 years working in the advertising industry - the latests years working mostly on social campaigns - Foxtrot had brought me back to my initial quest : style doesn't have to be compromised for consciousness. As an advertiser - aware of the behind-the-scene of a lot of brands, as a consumer and now as a mother of 3, I wanted to take part to something positive in the area I master the most: consumption. This is at the very root of Foxtrot.
So, if I had meet Elizabeth Cline back in 2003, we might have become bff. The girl, born and raised in Georgia, worked as a journalist in New York City for 15 years. She got interested in the social costs of fashion as a high school student, when she first learned abut the problem of sweatshops in factories overseas. Famous brands had been accused to be connected to child labor and abusive working conditions, and it was such an outrage. I guess we both read No Logo at the same time...
But my first question to Cline was about the deeper meaning of buying second hand. We both agree it is a matter of consciousness beyond poverty :
I think shopping secondhand is just one of many options available to a person who wants to shop more ethically or sustainably. There are many companies making sustainable and ethical products first of all, so buying new is an option. For those just starting out as ethical and sustainable fashion followers, one of the easiest things you can do is to start asking questions and asking for change from the brands that you already love. You can use Project JUST or the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index to see where your favorite brands rank in terms of environmental and social justice.
Do you find it troubling that you might not know the social and environmental costs of this new way of shopping when you buy fast and ? Do you ask the hard questions about what fast fashion companies are up to?