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The Strawberry Dress: An Analogy for our Fast Fashion Mindset

Greta Scott

Posted on September 1, 2020 14:41

6 users

Although I am not a fashion expert, I am someone who recently made the decision to buy exclusively ethically and sustainably-made clothing. I made this decision after discovering that one in five cotton products sold worldwide is tainted by human rights atrocities against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang. Uighur Muslims are being tortured, sterilized, shackled and blindfolded -- these are crimes against humanity, and by buying cheap clothing, I was complicit in them.

Fashion historian Karolina Żebrowska recently brought to my attention a trend sweeping social media in the form of a strawberry-patterned midi dress designed by Lirika Matoshi. Influencers are going crazy for it, but the dress has also been the subject of some controversy, notably regarding its $490 price-tag.

Unsurprisingly, many high street fashion brands have jumped on the trend, creating their own, cheaper versions of the dress. TikTok users have been quick to point out the flaws of such dresses, raising the question of why it is impossible to recreate a $490 dress and sell it for less than $20.

Lirika Matoshi's strawberry dress

 

Strawberry dresses available on AliExpress.

 

Hearing people's complaints about the price of the Strawberry Dress made me wonder: how did we get here? When did we decide to abandon the quality of our clothes and the conditions under which they were made?

Fashion historian Bernadette Banner made an excellent video comparing the quality of her handmade reconstruction of a medieval dress and a $40.98 knockoff available online. She explains that clothing, when it's made properly, with good-quality materials, will last a significant amount of time -- as it did all throughout history.

We are able to identify periods of history through clothing because fashion didn't use to change every few months. Each decade had its own unique silhouette, which was largely based on the silhouette of the preceding decade. That is to say, clothing was reused and remodeled to fit new trends, instead of ending up in a landfill. Clothing was an investment -- fabric was expensive, labor was expensive -- because it was made to last, and hopefully not made by a persecuted minority!

Not only could people not afford to simply buy something and then discard it a year later, but there was no need to do so because it was high-quality. Of course, clothing shouldn't become unaffordable -- but it shouldn't be dirt cheap, either.

Image by Chloe Roche.

We have also lost the ability to mend our clothes -- it's easy not to care if you rip your t-shirt when you can buy another one in H&M for $6. Compare that mentality to this 1909 sewing manual which helps readers maintain their clothes by reminding them -- four times -- to "never wait for a hole." Imagine where the fashion industry would be today if that was still our motto.

So, looking back at the Strawberry Dress, I wonder how we dare be so outraged at its price tag. The companies that are attempting to rip it off are not only stealing Matoshi's design, but they are also contributing to the mindset that fashion should be cheap, unethically-made, and ever-changing.

By investing in our clothing, it both lasts longer and reduces the textile industry's significant environmental impact. The TikTok users criticizing knockoffs of the Strawberry Dress are simply exposing the fact that quality does and always has cost money. It's time for us as a society to come to terms with that.

Greta Scott

Posted on September 1, 2020 14:41

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Source: Forbes

The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and remains the second largest industrial polluter, second...

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