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"Repeating an Outfit" – Myth or a Taboo?

Warm summer nights, loud blaring music, refreshing mimosas, dancing in fields amongst the flowers with your friends, excessive amounts of glitter, and a city of must be festival season (large events or small)! Festival fashion throws the fashion rule book out the window, as we switch up everyday attire for flares, neons, harnesses, mesh, feathers, sparkle and anything that allows us to transform ourselves!

Festival fashion is a playground for creativity, experimentation and expression. The phenomenon of festival fashion is arguably symbolic of progressive youth culture, as festival goers are liberated to dress however they please and dance away any stress or worries of reality.

But this expressive fashion liberation is increasingly coming at an environmental cost. A report found that single-use outfits for music festivals, such as Glastonbury and Coachella, alone, account for approximately $307 million worth of items per year, or about 7.5 million outfits worn only once because as per the youngsters it’s unfashionable to wear it again, as it’s been noticed by people either on social media or in person.

This all results in a high carbon footprint, so why do people have this concept embedded in their minds? What could be done to maximize the approach of people towards sustainability than fast fashion during festival?

Why do people have this fixated mentality of outfits “only being worn once”?

Many of us have an incomprehensible fear, a feeling of embarrassment or a rush of anxiety to wear an outfit more than once, a feeling that could be labelled a “taboo” or a “myth”. The major reason believed for this mentality is social media.

Social media has become an extensive platform that plays a huge role in influencing our lives by the way someone posts, and especially by the way one looks and dresses. This “only being worn once” fixated mentality has become a kind of culture amongst us, that once we wear an outfit and post a picture then we mustn’t repeat it again. Especially at festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella, taking away from the fun to social pressure.

However, this is the reason behind our hyper consumerism that the fast fashion industry feeds off us. Fast fashion brands like Zara, Topshop, ohpolly etc. all contribute to the “disposable mentality” attitude and are bombarded with sales during seasonal and festive times as the garments are affordable and trendy.

Based on statistics on Statistica, it shows that people in their mid 30s are more conscious about sustainability than youngsters (age 18-34) and why is this? Social media? Of course, but it’s the people like influencers, bloggers, fashion divas, and let’s not forget the famous celebrities who are one of the highest consumers, promoters of fast fashion. When people see other people that influence them doing something, they follow because we think by having a variety of outfits like our influencers will portray us to people in the way we want to be perceived. Saving us from all those miserable feelings of judgement and changing that into feeling expressive, confident, and “I fit in” category.

But have we only just taken other’s judgement into consideration and put a blind eye towards the cost the environment pays?

The fashion industry, and specifically the fast fashion industry, are the second highest polluters and the cause of 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions. If the fashion industry continues the share of carbon budget it could jump to 26% by 2050. This goes along with the stream of trucks in the UK sent to landfills with around 300,000 tonnes of clothes, in which a lot of them haven’t even been worn or sold, or have only been worn once/twice.

“Only 1% of material in clothing is recycled, the rest 99% of textile is just waste.” Stella McCartney, Greenpeace

Music festivals and parties all are large reasons for this cause but maybe, it’s actually us! Take a minute and ask ourselves has our greed and selfishness to dress to these festivals consumed us so much that we don’t care about the environment? In fact, now is the time for the environment to heal itself and for us to go to these festivals to have a crazy time, enjoy ourselves. After a long halt due to the pandemic by breaking the myth that “outfits can’t be repeated” and without the feeling of judgement.

How we could implement more of a sustainable approach in terms of outfits by drifting away from fast fashion?

In these past months a lot of us have had so much time to learn, explore fashion + sustainability in creative ways. What better way than upcycling your own clothes and creating new unique styles either with your old clothes or something you haven’t worn? Trying a DIY from YouTube or Pinterest for ideas.

Also, charity stores (such as Oxfam) and thrift stores can be a great way to find an outfit because they have a variety of styles available for a great price. There are some second hand clothing sites too, like “Depop” or “Vestiaire Collective”, that has taken a sustainable approach and become a popular way to buy and sell garments. The other best way than disposing off your clothes or buying new ones is swapping clothes with somebody else, which reduces the cycle of repetition.

Need help finding sustainable fashion brands for an outfit for festivals? Here are some options:

Depop shop – Fanci Club Vietnamese designer Duy Tran’s pieces are inspired by John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood – cue contrast stitched corsets to patchwork designs made from recycled materials.

Reformation Sells vintage clothing from LA, globally making effortless silhouettes for every feminine figure with sustainable practices, and even have a store here in the UK.


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