Festivals have been around for decades, and naturally, we like to dress to impress. What needs to be reminded more often is that single-use outfits for music festivals like Coachella/Glastonbury is responsible for $307 million worth of items per year.
Without knowing it, the idea of single-use outfits happens more than we think. And, in general, outfit repeating seems more of a foreign topic.
Sometimes we get that huge urge of buying a whole outfit just to attend that specific event in mind. A lot of people do, we want to dress to impress! especially for that once a year event, you want to make an impression right?
Somehow, as soon as we think about what we’re going to wear, we instantly think of new clothes to buy. “That dress I saw online a week ago, here’s a chance to buy them!”. Why is that though?
Let’s firstly understand why
“As humans have developed and their basic needs are met, they experience greater motivation for belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. Fashion and fashion-related products can satisfy” (Professor Carolyn Mair, The Psychology of Fashion)
The need of buying a new outfit for every event surpasses beyond just events like festivals in particular. It’s the mindset of avoiding reusing clothes we’ve already worn before. We have this mindset, daily. A survey conducted by Censuswide found that 1/4 of people say that they would feel embarrassed wearing an outfit to a special occasion more than once. Where 1 in 3 young British women consider a garment to be “old” after wearing it once or twice.
Alice Gividen from WGSN global trend edit says that social media plays a big role in this throwaway culture. When an outfit has been ‘gridded’, shopper’s tend to be hesitant to share the look again, since the gratification that comes with a new outfit is gone. But for example, at a festival, where there are thousands of people. If they are going to only use their outfit once, they are planning to re-sell them after right?
Avoiding outfit repeating in an irresponsible way
Some people who preach the wear once method does not actually list their stuff back or sell them again. Hence, about £140 million worth of clothing is sent to the landfill each year. Equalling to 350,000 tonnes of unwanted garments. This is the big issue, it’s not throwing it away that’s the problem but the “end of ownership” as Business of Fashion calls it.
The fashion industry itself is already responsible for 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions. On top of that, textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water globally. At this rate of fashion disposal and short life cycle, environmental issues will be larger and will be harder to reverse.
Disposing plastic-based fabrics
“something which is not considered often. Since the rise of fast fashion, when polyester fabric use exploded, a lot of the clothing which is being sent to landfill is made from polyester” says Rob Williams from Hawthorn (Clothing Manufacturer).
This is a big concern on top of the already ‘one-wear only’ clothing for one event, it’s the material too and how it is disposed. Logically, if we have the mindset of only wearing the item once we want to save money and buy cheap.
A survey conducted by Fashion Retail Academy has shown that 61% of buyers have no interest in quality long-lasting clothing and 25% of respondents say they prefer cheaper clothes that only last one season. Polyester is a type of synthetic and non-biodegradable fibre, that can be found in 60% of garments. It is one of the biggest sources of microplastic fibres in the ocean. It’s also dangerous for the ocean and wildlife (to read more about plastic-based fibres and the ocean read here).
The interesting solution is that polyester is now can be recycled and reused by clothing manufacturers and other industries. It’s a shame that these garments are not properly thrown out. Ending up in landfills instead of being a resource for another product.
How can we help?
Be wiser when putting away your clothing: one of the main steps is to consider re-selling or donating your items. We want to avoid the pieces we owned to end up in the landfill and making them waste, especially if you have only worn them a couple of times and it’s still in mint condition. Not only you’re going to get a percentage of what you paid by re-selling them, but you are also contributing greatly to extending the ownership of the clothes. Remember, the longer the life cycle, the better!
Consider recycling: “Waste is a miss-placed resource” with all the ease of recycling our used items you should look into recycling places near your area. Sometimes it sounds more of a hassle to do so, but in the long run it can really help the environment if we try to make it into a habit.
Rent instead of buy: Being a wiser shopper is also a first step towards becoming more environmentally cautious. If you don’t want “outfit repeating”, definitely rent a piece! it’s perfect for those once a year festivals and parties plus it’s cheap and someone who needs it can use it again.
Vintage shopping: as Y2K and more unique pieces are on-trend, why not vintage shop? it’s a great way to extend the ownership of used pieces. You might find more interesting pieces as well, and it’s a great way to save money.
The change starts with you too. If we can be more responsible for our purchases and where it ends after, it can help to minimize waste from the industry. I personally think our environment matters more than the side-eye comment of outfit repeating.
Or maybe we can erase the stigma once and for all. Who cares if we wear the same top from last year’s festival.