Monday 4 July 2016

The Most Vital Weapon Against Fast Fashion: Education!

It's all too easy to make noise about ethical fashion, but we live in a noisy world. Shouting is one thing, but education is a much smarter way to make sure that future generations understand that the current fashion model is broken. And that there's a lot they can do about it.

Let's talk about the kids. They've grown up in a world where fast fashion is the norm. Many school-age kids have never known a time without Primark or Zara. But they've also been born into an age where information is available at any time, whenever they need it. And they know how to communicate. People my age think Facebook and Twitter are the nuts, but for the so-called millenials these vectors are like rotary-dial telephones. They're smart, and super-connected.

Which means that kids today have a lot of power when it comes to influencing the future of fashion, as creators and consumers. But how do we educate them to be the thoughtful, informed citizens of the fashion-verse that we'd like to see?

An article earlier this year on The Note Passer has a ton of great tips and resources to help us all give school-age kids the information they need to make the right choices. A couple of examples:

The appearance of documentaries on different aspects of fast fashion mean that there's great materials out there to watch and discuss afterwards. The big one, of course, is The True Cost, easily available on Netflix. It provides a solid overview of the whole scene, and asks some serious questions. But films such as Udita! which follows the rise of garment worker activism in Bangladesh, or Unravel which explores how we have come to discard millions of tons of perfectly usable clothes every year are really useful as well.

It's also important to look at the culture of materialism through which fast fashion has found a solid foundation from which to grow. Kids are swamped by adverts, taught how to "bargain-hunt" and encouraged to spend whether or not they actually need the clothes they're buying. By unpacking the message and the manipulation, we're able to give kids the tools to be able to make more informed choices, and even to walk away with their money still in their pockets.

All of this is vital, but one point that The Note Passer makes is key. In order to educate our kids, we have to know what we're talking about. They'll be full of questions, and can sniff out bull at a hundred paces. So it's vital that we educate ourselves as well. If we're serious about giving our kids the tools they need to navigate a complicated issue, we should know how to use them as well. Honesty is important though: it's ok to say you don't know. In fact, sometimes it's better to find out about the important issues together.


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