What’s in a name?
I’ve been meaning to pen this blog for quite some time and now seems to be more appropriate than ever, as we find ourselves evaluating what really matters to us in life, in the midst of COVID 19 lock down. With brands across the fashion spectrum cancelling orders in factories in some of the worlds poorest countries, leaving workers with no income, hundreds of thousands of people are now faced with starvation and the fashion industry has hit a new low.
Why by default when asked what we are wearing do we often use the brand name to describe it? “This top from Zara.” Or “It’s from Net a Porter or x, y, z”
I’ve even found myself saying my Tiffany Ring or my Massimo Dutti Jacket, my LK Bennett shoes? Whoa! They are actually mine! I chose them, bought them and I am wearing them.
What sort of validation am I looking for by describing them by their brand name? That I'm cool, trendy? Or is it some sort of statement of my status?
I wasn't even conscious until lockdown of this habit.
This narrative has become the norm in our consumer society, as we have become attached to the brand values of the companies selling us hope on a hanger. Aspiring to own pieces from a big luxury brand is even seen as a goal, attaining them, a mark of success. Consumerism and capitalism are embedded in the big fashion names currently. Their seductive decades of marketing have lured us to a place that we even value ourselves, by the brands that we wear.
Can you see me shaking my head at myself in dismay right now? The values I should be declaring when I describe what I’m wearing could be much better:
My ring is made by one of the top 10 ethical jewelers.
My jacket is 8 years old, and I’ve worn it over 300 times.
My shoes I look after like the best friends they are because a family owned business made them who have full transparency in their supply chain.
I know, much more long winded and somehow nowhere near as appealing but this is the real external value of what we choose to wear.
The internal value, the value to us the wearer, is something only we know how to measure. How much joy it brings us to wear it, how good it makes us feel, how comfortable it is on us. As women we have often worn things to gain validation from others (can you imagine a guy describing his clothes by the brand name?) but it's how clothes make us feel that is so important.
Designer labels are precious to those that value them but being famous or expensive is not a mark of success. Being true to you, wearing what you love is a more conscious and ultimately joyful way to live.
Changing the dialogue will help us consider the true meaning of what we choose to buy and own. Wearing our own values, pieces that we cherish and love, instead of being dictated to, with a “Best Buy” or “Must Have” item of the season.
Now is a good time to evaluate and become aware of just how powerful brands have been at influencing our choices. Switch from promoting a brand name when we describe what we wear, to promoting sustainable practices.
When we emerge from this current crisis to tackle sustainability in fashion head on, I dream of consumers who align themselves with a brand because it cares about the planet, processes and people and this becomes the new norm for a swing tag and reason to buy.