Drip or Drown: Aditi Mayer on sustainable fashion and decolonization

Jeevan Sangha (@jeevanksangha)

For those of us who have the privilege of being at home during COVID-19, many have been tempted by the charms of online shopping. 

Online shopping can be done from the comfort of your home, and can enable us to keep up on the latest trends, all while being done affordably. 

The conveniences, however, are only a small part of the bigger picture. 

Aditi Mayer, an advocate for sustainable fashion and latest speaker at our 5X Drip panel, would urge you to think deeper about where your latest outfit came from.

On her blog, Mayer interrogates the intersections between style, sustainability and social justice. 

She often addresses the idea of fast fashion, in which large corporations rapidly produce vast amounts of clothing with cheap textiles, and sell it for a consequently cheap price in order to match dynamic fashion trends. 

This system, which lives on through companies like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M  -- causes indescribable effects on the physical environments, and disproportionately exploits and harms workers of colour.

In this way, Mayer suggests that conversations around fast fashion need to be decolonized because of how the fashion industry appropriates non-Western fashion designs, and the labour of people of colour. 

These systems are a microcosm of greater systems of oppression such as colonialism and global capitalism. 

The fashion industry, like many others, needs to include people of colour at all levels in order to question how the system of clothing production operates as a whole. 

In the 5X Drip Instagram Live Panel, Mayer spoke about how the current system of clothing production harkens back to the British Raj in India, and how South Asian examples such as phulkari are much more sustainable options, and encourage artisans to create their clothes with care and quality. 

So why isn’t everyone shopping sustainably, then? 

The core argument against sustainable fashion is that it’s much more expensive than their fast fashion counterparts. However, Mayer suggests a great way to start is to look to our grandparents’ way of life -- especially within the South Asian community.

Some ways to do this include trying to make a conscious effort to minimize waste, only buying things that you love and can see yourself wearing for a long time, raiding your Mom’s closet and even taking up thrifting, because it gives those clothes a second home before hitting the landfill. 

These are all small things we can do to increase the life expectancy of our clothes, which challenges us to think critically about the clothes we wear, because they represent so much more than just garments.

It’s on us as consumers to make better choices and also interrogate the systems that got us here in the first place.

We’re kicking off our first ever virtual festival, being delivered straight to your phone, with these big conversations with big names, including some of the top South Asian artists in the game, like Aditi Mayer. We may be stuck at home, but there’s more ways than ever to engage with your faves in the app and through our virtual events. 

Download the 5X Fest app today.

We’re ready, are you?

Let’s Ready, Step, Create.

For more articles on sustainable, decolonial fashion, check out Aditi Mayer’s blog and follow her @aditimayer on Instagram. 

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