The fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to pollution and waste, and local fashion creative Mae Tan (@marxmae on IG) is using her platform and her bursting wardrobe to do something about it, in conjunction with Earth Day's 50th anniversary. (Yes, Earth Day 2020 was on April 22, just a few days ago, though efforts have unfortunately been over-shadowed by Covid-19 news).
Together with luxury resale store Vestiaire Collective, where you can buy and sell authentic luxury pre-owned fashion pieces and partake in fashion sustainability, Mae, 25, who's one of the stars of Netflix's Singapore Social, is taking up the challenge of evaluating the sustainability of her closet, and is contributing over 30 items from her wardrobe, with proceeds going to Red Cross Singapore to support Covid-19 relief efforts.
Whether your closet is similarly packed with luxe labels or not, Mae has tips on how you can, like her, do a wardrobe detox, or, if you like, take part in Vestiaire Collective's Wardrobe Reality Check (go here to see what the four steps are), to reevaluate the environmental impact of your fashion choices and streamline your wardrobe.
#1: Learn to let go and find beauty in minimalism.
Mae advises that you check out Vestiaire Collective’s Wardrobe Reality Check Challenge, which is a 4-step process that prompts consumers to work towards a more sustainable future by starting with their wardrobes. (One tip from there is to weed out anything from your closet that you haven't worn for the past year, and divide it into four piles — pieces to be resold, donated to charity, repurposed or recycled. You can, of course, try selling some of them on the Vestiaire Collective app.) She tells 8days.sg, "2020 is the year of monumental change for me, so I’m joining the challenge because it’s a great opportunity to create positive changes in my life, [and see] the results of a reality check on the excesses of my lifestyle! I’m hoping to clear my wardrobe and to learn to let go of things, to find beauty in minimalism and give these clothes a new life with new owners."
#2: Recognise that you have a part to play in over-buying and pollution caused by the fashion industry.
Says Mae, "Everybody is aware that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, and this is especially so for fast fashion. As both a fashion consumer and industry insider, I understand the love for fashion and the instant gratification with each purchase, but it comes at a heavy price for the environment. Being more conscious as a fashion consumer is definitely something I’ve been working on by making more sensible choices and being creative in styling up my existing wardrobe."
#3: When in doubt, Marie Kondo.
How to decide what to keep, and what to let go? Mae says, "For a start, The Marie Kondo way of figuring out whether the item sparks joy really helped me. At the end of the day, it's about knowing that someone else might get better use out of an item, rather than letting it sit in my closet. Letting go is not easy, but I’m proud to be contributing over 30 items from my wardrobe to Vestiaire Collective for this challenge.
#4: Ask yourself these three questions if you're not sure whether to keep or let go of a piece.
"Go through your wardrobe and figure out which items express your style and then stick to that. If you haven’t worn something for a year or you’ve gone through the whole “But, I’ll wear it one day” syndrome, it’s time to give it to someone else to rock it! I have three simple questions that I ask myself. First, is this piece still chic and could it still be worn five years from now? Second, do I have existing pieces to match it with? And finally, do the quality and the cut or fit make it something timeless? One good way to always look on trend and still shop responsibly is to upkeep a wardrobe of classic staples that are both timeless and versatile, and at the same time collect standout vintage pieces."
#5: Apply your eco-consciousness to fashion and beyond.
"I think it is important to realise that each single fashion purchase has environmental, social and ethical costs in its entire life cycle, and that just by extending the lifespan of a product, you can make a difference. Participating in the circular fashion economy is not difficult — there are many trusted options right now for people to recycle or resell their pre-owned pieces, as well as to purchase pre-loved items to fill gaps in their closets. Outside of fashion, I bring a reusable bag and my own bottle whenever I can and have surprisingly managed to rid my family home of clingwrap, and use only biodegradable trash bags."
Check out the Wardrobe Reality Challenge at www.vestiairecollective.com/journal/how-to-take-the-challenge/.