I know it’s a cliché but the idea for Sojo came from a personal problem that I realised there was no solution for. I’d moved away from fast fashion and was shopping nearly exclusively second-hand clothes. This was great until I noticed that I had the recurring problem of consistently finding items I loved that weren’t my size. I had no idea how to sew and thought that going to a seamster was too much time and effort so never ended up buying them (and if I did, they just added to a pile of clothes in my wardrobe that I’d ‘get around to one day’). So, I set about thinking of a solution which would mean I could get clothes altered to me on my phone seeing as I’m a generation where we’re used to everything at our fingertips quite literally!
That we all should understand that sustainable fashion isn’t just about the environment and our planet, but it’s also about making sure that the people and the garment workers who hold up the industry are being valued and treated fairly.
Not to be biased but it’s all my Sojo customers. Each of them are making an active decision to alter and repair the clothes in their wardrobe and in doing so they’re making small steps towards reimagining the way we consume. It’s the normal people and their day-to-day decisions that will help change the industry and watching those decisions be made and those changes unfold is really inspiring to me.
As many of us now know, fashion waste is such a huge problem in the fashion industry and it’s caused by things we’ve become so accustomed to, like trends that are consistently changing, low-quality materials being used in our clothes and society’s pervasive throwaway culture. This is inherently unsustainable and by looking after our clothes, repairing them, tailoring them to us, giving them longevity – we’re not only reducing the amount of fashion waste we create we’re also reducing the amount of new clothes that we’d need to by. According to WRAP extending the life of a garment by just 9-months of active use would reduce its carbon and water footprint by 30%. When making new garments has such a bad environmental impact, not having to buy new because we’re looking after the old is such a great way to live more sustainably.
In terms of feminism, looking after the clothes we already own on a micro level, inherently respects the person who made them more but also on a macro level if we are to look after our clothes more and as such, buy less, it will mean we can buy quality and quality means a garment can be made out of ethical and sustainable materials by a WOC garment worker who was paid fairly and valued the way they should be.
I’d say my top tip is to start on a path of learning because it’s hard to feel impassioned on a topic or motivated to act on something when you don’t know all about it. I personally found that once my eyes had been opened to all the information and statistics and the people behind our clothes, there’s wasn’t really any going back.
In terms of tangible recommendations to implement this I’d say start to follow intersectional environmentalists and slow fashion influencers, like Venetia La Manna, Aja Barber or Mikaela Loach. You can also listen to the podcast Remember Who Made Them which centres the stories of garment workers or watch the documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. Or there are also books out there, like Lauren Bravo’s How to Break Up with Fast Fashion, and also jump on the bandwagon by pre-ordering Orsola De Castro’s book ‘Loved Clothes Last.’ Sorry, there’s a lot to digest there but it’s to cover people who like to consume through different mediums!
Gosh that’s such a big question! I think one of the main things I hope for is that there is a huge cultural shift away from the disposability of clothes and a reversal to how things used to be- where you’d keep clothes for decades.
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Another month of staying at home will inevitably have us assessing and reassessing the clothes that we’ve adopted over the years. We believe that we owe it to the planet to take good care of our essential pieces, ensuring that buying new becomes a rarity instead of a regular. Need some tips? Read this way.