Here I am in a gorgeous, timeless, elegant 50’s dress.
I found it at the Puces, the Parisian flea market, in one of my favorite shops, Marcel and Jeannette, which specializes in clothes from the 18th century to the 60’s.
It’s both very strange and quite comforting to wear a garment that is older than you are.
It’s very strange – and incredibly interesting – to look at the fabrics and the structure, which are so different from what we see today. Who would still know what is a waist ribbon or a Lanvin?
It’s also very comforting to wear an old piece of clothing because its quality envelops you, its story enriches you and its discrepancy with the modern days will ensure that you stand out from the crowd and craft your own style.
This inevitably leads me to fast fashion, this horrible segment of the fashion industry, whose primary characteristics are constant renewal of collections with particularly low prices. And mediocre quality, if I dare say.
This topic has been on my mind for months.
Without even consciously thinking about it, I’ve always followed my dear Mother’s adage, according to which it is preferable to one quality piece over several mediocre ones. God knows we didn’t have a lot of money back then but I guess this explains the latter.
Fast fashion wasn’t a thing yet at the time but the arrival of giants of mass consumption in the fashion market has not changed my opinion one bit. This thought process became conscious quite recently, when my dear teen explained that she wouldn’t buy anything that wasn’t vintage or second-hand and the reasons behind this choice. I answered, to my surprise, that I had also integrated these values, these reasons and this choice a long time ago, without ever analyzing it.
I’ve never put a foot in an H&M or a Zara, for the simple reason that it disgusts me.
These brands represent the quintessence of everything that is wrong with our world at the moment: a lack of ethics, social injustice and environmental injustice, pseudo-individualism, which hides but a mass consumption that clones us, overconsumption and finally, what I call “social depression”.
Buying from these places equals giving up on all morality, validating precarious and dangerous working condition, child labor in some places and all that remunerated with the lowest wages. We all remember the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, which gave us an idea of the extremely precarious conditions these people work in, all for fast fashion.
Buying these brands equals perpetuating a form of economic neo-colonialism organized not by states but by companies, which seems to validate social and environmental injustice along the good old lines of “more developed” and “less developed” countries.
Buying there means accepting mass overconsumption, which, and we know this for a fact, has only negative impacts on our poor planet Earth: the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world.
The most penalized countries are China, Bangladesh and India, where the production of garments for fast fashion is creating an unprecedented environmental crisis, due to, to mention one, the intensive production of cotton, which is extremely thirsty, or due to the disposal of non-treated dyes into local water sources, to cite another.
Buying there means accepting a sort of style cloning. You may find a cute coat and think you really found a unique deal, only to see the same coat time and time again in the street you’re walking on. And it’s vicious because you think buying a garment is a rational, individual, proactive decision but it’s not. It’s not demand that creates offer nowadays, it’s offer that stimulates demand. “You don’t need it? No worries, you’ll still buy it”. That is the dark motto of this market.
Buying there means accepting that individuality in everything it has of unique and transcending does not exist. Buying there means accepting that your own style doesn’t exist. Or barely. Think about the “cute coat” that’s so you but you see everywhere.
Buying there means validating mass overconsumption, which has nothing but negative impacts on humans as well. You are accepting the compulsive nature of buying and will end up wearing what you buy twice in 15 years. We don’t buy to keep anymore. We buy to satisfy an immediate, pressing need that is satisfied during the purchase. We knew about “comfort food”, the food we feel the need to eat when we’re down.
Welcome to “comfort fashion”, which tries to solve “social depression” (but only makes it worse).
Vintage dress from Marcel et Jeannette – Vintage Valentino belt – JCrew flat shoes – Miu Miu sunglasses – Moreau Paris handbag – Eshvi bracelet