I’ve made the switch to secondhand clothing a long time ago. This means that the habit of buying (almost) no new clothing is quite easy for me. I know where to look and what to look for when it comes to secondhand clothing. The next step was not buying any plastic clothes anymore and that’s going quite well too. Now that I got this base I want to take the next step: I want to stop being a billboard for (especially) unsustainable brands.
From a very young age people are aware of brands and their value. We know which brands are expensive and which ones are cheap even though the price for the production of Nikes or Primark shoes are the same. Because of this, brands divide people. If you can’t afford the newest shoes of a specific brand, you’re not cool. You don’t fit in and I think that’s wrong. You should not be excluded because you don’t buy that specific piece of clothing. Clothing brands should not divide us. They’re there to produce clothing for us, not an identity.
Division is already bad enough. But clothing brands also make people form their identity through consumerism. This wat your identity is not formed by what you do, what you don’t, what you preach, what you learn, what you believe in or anything else: it’s about the clothes you wear. I personally don’t think that’s what we should aim for. I think people should be cool because of the way they behave. The things they do and enjoy doing. About who you are as a person in this world. We can spend our money so much better than by being a billboard for fashion brands and we can spend our time better than by browsing for the latest shoes and hating ourselves because we don’t have enough clothing. I think we can do better.
Also, this way you’ll never want enough. You’ll always want the newest Nikes, Adidas shoes or Levi’s pants. And that can never be sustainable. Sustainability is about slow fashion. We need to buy things that last long. Also, we need to buy from sustainable fashion brands. But that’s not a cool thing now. All the unsustainable brands are the cool brands that everybody wears. I rarely see people advertising sustainable brands by wearing those. And that’s also where my biggest problem comes in. When you wear a specific brand, you are their free billboard. I currently have secondhand Vans. This is sustainable because I bought them secondhand. However, nobody can see that when I wear them. To the outside world I am just advertising Vans. This screams: ‘look at me! I am cool because I wear Vans’. That’s not what I want at all anymore. I will wear out all the shoes that I own right now (because throwing them away would be a waste), but I will try to avoid buying products with brands on them from now on. I am not a billboard.
Don’t get me wrong here. I do not want everybody to wear the same boring clothing. I am not against different types of models for clothing. I am not against colors, shapes or texts. I mean, I like fashion too. The only thing I don’t like is that brands are shown off on the outside of the clothing. You know, the big brands on sweaters, shirts, shoes, etc. Not showing off the brand maybe won’t solve all of the problems I listed above, but at least some of them. In my utopia clothing is just clothing. The same as today, but without the brand itself on it. So still Nike Air Max, but just not with Nike on it. No Nike on shoes, no Levi’s on jeans, no Tommy Hilfiger on polo’s. Nothing. This way you can’t see which brand a specific shirt or hat is from. And then it’s not a status item anymore. Because that’s what we think brands give us right now, status. And in this utopia you can still have a good sense of fashion. You can still buy specific models of shirts or shoes. But nobody will know what brand it is. And very important too: in this ideal situation all clothing brands would be sustainable and ethical of course. But that’s another problem.
From now on I refuse to be a bill-board for brands. I will try to avoid wearing clothing that has a brand on it. Let’s see how that goes!