Last fall, I had one dress on my mind: A knit, green, mid length garment hailing from the brand house of Sunny, and I wasn’t alone. Celebrities like Kendall Jenner wore the original, and the world went wild. With every turn I took across the whole of fashion Instagram, I was bound to stumble across it. The internet had found its new obsession. And like most internet obsessions, within a few months it was gone. How did we get to this point where a dress once so on trend is over and done in a matter of a few months?
The dictators of fashion have shifted in the past few decades. We once looked to a small group of celebrities and fashion designers as inspiration. They controlled what the masses wore. Now, with the creation of social media, the mediascape has changed.
It started with long form Youtube content. Fashion hauls were everywhere, popularizing giant collections of new clothes. With the rise of TikTok and short form content, millions of people are now competing in the same space, striving to stay “new and fresh.” As new trends accelerate, people buy new pieces, wear them for shorter amounts of time, and get rid of old ones faster. In the past 20 years, the amount of clothing Americans throw away has risen from 7 million tons per year to 14 million tons per year. Clothing production has doubled, the average consumer buys 60% more clothing pieces, and keeps them for half as long.
So what can we do about this? It’s obviously important to buy less, but that is easier said than done. Focusing on your personal style, one that exists outside of trends, can be helpful. It matters not what other people have dictated fashion as, all that matters is what you personally like. This can exist within what others wear, but also in pieces no one else has. Investing in things you love and will wear forever goes far beyond what a cheap pair of jeans will get you. Buying second hand is also a great way to reduce waste, and is often much cheaper than paying in store prices. Instead of throwing away old clothes, give them a second chance by selling or donating them to decrease your waste. No one is perfect, but that’s not what is important. Trying to better not only ourselves but our planet is what counts, and we can do that one step at a time.