Second Time Around: In Pursuit of Sustainable Clothing Consumption

Sifting through clothes from yesteryear

Second Time Around, the title of this blogpost is appropriately similar to the name of a second hand clothing store in the heart of Cape Town’s Long Street. While I was a student and living in Cape Town I used to love browsing through the second hand clothes.

I, like many others, express my individuality through clothes; a term used to describe this phenomenon is symbolic consumption. However, I might be guilty of over consumption as I have clothes that still have their labels on, yet I am ready to buy more. I realised that I needed to increase my understanding of how my behaviour can be more sustainable when it comes to clothing and textile consumption.

There is an enormous amount of clothing and textiles that ends up on landfill sites rather than being reworn — clothing that can be worn again; reused — old clothes and textiles that can be turned into other products, or recycled — turned into textile fibres, and used for things like insulation. Failure to reuse and recycle is a major environmental problem, since the production of textiles requires significant natural resources. The volume of collected used clothing and textiles must increase to create new products based on recycled materials. Thus in order to expand volume it is necessary to increase consumer knowledge about the importance of reuse and recycling.

Individual action is not sufficient and a macromarketing: company, consumer and society, perspective plays a vital role for understanding and solving this environmental problem. Reasons why clothing companies might become involved in reuse and recycling is that it can reduce costs, as recycled fibres used for production are less costly than new raw material; companies also see it as a way to act sustainably.

There are numerous opportunities for consumers to become involved in support of sustainable fashion. Stemming from the latter, one such initiative by fashion retailer H&M invites the public to swap old clothes and in return receives a discount voucher to use in store.

I decided that for the winter months of 2017 I am going second hand! I sifted through my mom’s clothes from yesteryear, and I am referring to clothes she wore 40 years back. I found 5 items that I thought have potential to be reworn and are still relevant today. Thus for this post I am going to style the signature pieces with modern clothing items to show that second hand clothes don’t have to be frowned upon (see photos below). In addition, it has its economic benefits as I am a student again!

I would like to leave you with this “..it’s impossible to be perfect with our buying behaviour. So, our solution must be: just do something” (The Good Trade).

The “old faithful” Trench Coat
The “faux fur” Coat
The “longer length” Cardigan
The “shorter” Trench Coat
The “oversized” Cardigan
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