With festivals and ‘normal life’ seemingly just around the corner, the question on everybody’s lips once again returns – ‘What am I going to wear?’
Festival fashion has become a crucial part of the industry – every summer we wait to see the newest trends and what the latest celebrities are wearing. But before you bring out the Pinterest boards and wish lists of outfits for each of this summer’s events, consider how many of these items of clothing you will wear again.
The problem with fast fashion
“Clothing production is the third biggest manufacturing industry after the automotive and technology industries. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.” House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2019
Festivals and fast fashion unfortunately go hand in hand. The lower price tag can be tempting and ‘easier’ for most festivalgoers, especially if the outfit is more outrageous than their everyday uniform.
From Coachella to Reading and Leeds, every festival has its own aesthetic and it can seem impossible to find clothing that will suit all occasions. Whilst wearing one pair of sparkly trousers less than a handful of times before disposal may not seem catastrophic for one person, if every single festival attendee does the same thing, that is we have a major problem.
And these aren’t just hypothetical situations – this is the reality.
Around 150 billion garments are now produced annually, with the amount of clothes sent to UK landfill every year weighing the same as the Empire State Building. Of course, this problem isn’t just due to festival fashion, but the normalisation of fast fashion purchasing within society. Consumer culture grows more and more every year, with everyone wanting the latest trending pieces.
“By thinking of the garments we wear as short term tools rather than long term investments, we contribute to wasteful consumption patterns that inevitably lead us towards drastic climate change.” Jennifer Darmo, 2020
Alternatives to festival fast fashion
Whilst fast fashion may seem the easiest option for your 2021 festival ‘fits, there are many alternatives to consider.
Firstly, re-wear! Have a look through your wardrobe and see what pieces you can reuse and repurpose into something new for your summer style. According to The Guardian, in 2019 one in three young women considered garments that were worn once or twice to be ‘old’.
If this is a concern for your festival outfits, try to buy clothing that can have multiple uses, rather than just a one-time-thing. If the number of times a garment was worn were doubled, the greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime would be 44% lower.
Secondly, shop second-hand. If sustainable brands are too expensive, perhaps take a trip to your local charity shop? Not only are you helping an organisation in need, you’re also reducing the amount of demand for fast fashion. Check out Depop or eBay, pop down to your local kilo sale or raid your family and friends’ wardrobes. You never know what gems you could find!
Of course, you always have the option to buy something new. We are all human, and sometimes Mum’s vintage Levi’s don’t quite cut it. But before you buy, consider the impact of the items you’re purchasing. Will you wear it again? Who made it? What circumstances was it produced under? Do you really need it?
Sustainable fashion brands bring out more and more festival-appropriate pieces every year. But of course, without demand, there is limited supply.
Sustainable festival fashion
With all this talk of purchasing from sustainable brands in time for festival season, who exactly can we buy from to reduce our impact whilst still looking fashion-forward?
INSANE IN THE RAIN: For UK festival goers, we all know that British weather is unpredictable. This brand is tackling the single use plastic problem, creating fashionable raincoats and ponchos.
DUVET DAYS: Designer, Emma, creates trousers, crops, jumpers and more in her Bristol home out of duvet covers. This is the perfect example of how up-cycling can still be fashionable and fun in time for festival season.
BURNT SOUL: This Bristol based brand have created their own fabric. “Life Lycra” made from recycled fishing net and tulle replaces the festival staple, Lycra. Using this, they create the festival catsuits of dreams, with limited consequences for the environment.
Of course, there are plenty more examples of sustainable fashion brands – all it takes is a quick Google search. These brands, and more, are doing the most to ensure that festival fashion doesn’t cost our planet’s health.
After all, our beloved outdoor festivals can only be enjoyed whilst our environment is thriving and healthy. By using these steps and indulging in sustainable fashion from time-to-time, we can all reduce the consumption of fast-fashion in festival season.