The impact of festival fashion
It is approximated that single-use clothing equates to $307 million per year. That’s 7.5 million outfits worn only once for occasions such as festivals and weddings.
Often seen as a place for experimentation, festivals provide the opportunity for freedom and expression. Unsurprisingly, fashion plays a central role amongst the mud and mayhem. For many, deciding what to wear comes with much thought and deliberation. Festival fashion throughout the 20th century continues to influence the way people choose to dress for festivals today.
It all began on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York in the late 60’s. Attracting hippies who felt alienated by the materialistic society they inhabited, Woodstock gave younger generations the space to make a noise about the things that mattered. In 1969, with the rest of America in conflict, the message which permeated the unsuspecting farmland was that of peace, love, and unity.
Festivals have since been a site for political reformation. Many festival goers still use them as a platform to push for social change. Whether it be through messages on flags or placards, chanting, or displayed proudly on their t-shirts.
Fast fashion: unsustainable and unethical
Fast fashion is deeply unsustainable. It’s ultimate goal: maximising profits. It provides the opportunity for consumers to purchase the ‘latest trends’ every few weeks. Because of their bargain prices, we’re encouraged to buy more items, and give little thought to discarding them after being worn only once (if, indeed, at all).
Single-use fashion has detrimental effects on the environment. Throughout every stage of production, each garment leaves an environmental footprint, making a sizable contribution to global warming.
In 2015, the fashion industry added 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the environment and produced CO2 emissions of almost 5%. Apparently more than shipping and aviation combined!
What’s more, the work in factories supplying fast fashion is repetitive, tedious, and low-paid.
If we don’t start making changes now, the fashion industry will use up one quarter of the worlds carbon budget by 2050. The way in which clothes are manufactured must change, as well as the way we behave as consumers.
That being said, I know you’re still desperate to go that festival. It’s been a hell of a year for us all, and however you choose to let your hair down – be it a holiday lounging in the sun, a week away in the mountains, or a festival in a field with 175,000 other people (not my idea of fun, but who am I to judge?) – you deserve it. So, please, go to your festival and go wild!
“But”, I hear you ask, “How can I do that while still being eco-conscious?” Fear not! I’m here to save you…
Brands offering sustainable festival wear
I scoured the internet for eco-friendly festival fashion, these are some of the best I found:
Bristol based company BangBangCrash – born out of a desire for more fun and playful clothing – make items to order and practise ethical and sustainable methods of manufacturing. Even their cheerful leggings are made from recycled polyester!
If it’s sparkle and glamour you’re after, visit Loonigans. All of their products are made in London, and they pride themselves on ethical and eco-friendly trade too.
If you’re more of a bohemian child, check out The Hippy Clothing Company. Making clothes since the swinging sixties, this Brighton based company will have you sorted. Their items are ethically sourced and made just for them. They’re currently offering 10% off your first order too.
Bestdays Vintage will help you to stay sustainable while also standing out in the crowd. Their vintage buys are exclusive and not available in mainstream fast fashion outlets.
And finally, for all of your glitter needs (because a festival isn’t a festival without glitter apparently), Eco Glitter Fun will provide you with biodegradable glitz made from eucalyptus trees.
There are, of course, other eco-friendly ways to shop. A good rummage around charity shops and vintage stores is sure to adorn you with marvels, as well as online marketplaces, Depop, Vinted, and eBay.
As ever, the internet can be wonderous and you’re guaranteed to find some gems of your own if you have a little search.
If all else fails, get creative!
Some of these options may not necessarily be kind to your bank balance though, especially when considering the amount of mud that is likely to end up embedded in your favourite new threads. So, I’m hoping to encourage you to get creative instead.
I’ll bet that by the beginning of each summer, most of us have a number of items in our collection that we’re unlikely to wear again. So why not breathe some new life into them?
Unleash your inner designer and re-love your own pre-loved. That pair of jeans at the bottom of your drawer that you stopped wearing for no good reason – take some scissors to them, turn them into festival-worthy shorts!
Or an old jacket that has long since seen better days, upcycle! Here are a few ways you could try. Channel your inner Jackson Pollock – splatter it with paint, bejewel it with some (eco-friendly) sparkle, and shine like the beacon you are.
If, like me, you own a million scarves, there are multiple ways of turning your scarf into a top – find your favourite – the options are literally endless. Most don’t even require sewing skills, but if you fancy a challenge, go for it!
Lastly, I don’t need to tell you how popular tie-dye has become again, so I’ll pretty much leave it there. Apart from sharing how it can be done sustainably, using natural dyes.
25% of people feel embarrassed to wear an outfit more than once, it’s high time we stigmatised not wearing an outfit twice. So, why not take festival-wear back to its roots and let your outfit spark conversation? Stand loud and proud in that field and say, “I made this!”. Start a revolution – the planet needs you to.