For the sustainability you don’t yet know.
Is Influencer Culture Sustainable?
Written by: Jasmine Gadoua
As an active social media user, I have always been in awe (and jealous) of the amount of clothing Instagram influencers have at their fingertips. I scroll through their feed, and I’ve never noticed them wearing the same piece of clothing twice. Their whole platform seems to revolve around capturing their clothing in the most creative way possible to keep their followers engaged. Unfortunately, the fast fashion industry capitalized on this opportunity to send Public Relations (PR) packages to these influencers hoping they will share these items with their followers. These influencers are so good at their job of portraying their seemingly perfect lifestyle and curating an aesthetic feed that they influence their followers to want to do the same thing. This influencer era has created a culture of people addicted to clothes and owning the next big thing with the sole purpose of having an aesthetically pleasing Instagram page.
As a result, in 2020, the average American produced over 82 pounds of textile waste each year with 40% of these purchases recommended by influencers. Take a moment to picture the piles of clothing in landfills due to the increasingly shorter fashion trend cycles. In reality, this amounts to around one garbage truck of textile waste per second! Not only does this influencer era of consumers have a devastating impact on the environment, but the pressure of being perfect on the Internet is leading to lower self-esteem and a higher need for validation from our followers.
Now that the climate crisis is globally recognized as a “real problem”, new types of influencers are born, including sustainable fashion influencers. Though their impact appears to be less harmful to the environment, often, influencers who promote ethical brands still promote overconsumption. These products may be of better quality and ethically sourced, yet, overconsuming them doesn’t ensure a slow fashion future where all parts of the fashion supply chain slow down. So, my message to you, from one consumer to another: beware of greenwashing: these promoted products may not be what they claim to be. You don’t want to be fooled? Think before you buy!
Feeling disappointed? Not to worry! There may be a silver lining in all this.
Though many influencers are often associated with material consumption, there are a few on social media who are using their influence to increase awareness about legislation that promotes a more sustainable and ethical garment industry and slow fashion. Here are some examples of sustainable fashion influencers and their best fashion tips:
Venetia La Manna is a broadcaster and slow-fashion campaigner who is challenging fashion brands that are costing the earth through their unethical practices in the fashion supply chain. Her biggest fashion tip is to make the most of what you already have! Keeping your closet organized and properly taking care of your clothes is key to helping you visualize endless fashionable outfits!
Josh Katcher is a fashion entrepreneur and founder of the Discerning Brute, the first men’s vegan lifestyle website. He uses his platforms to discuss the realities of animal exploitation in the fashion industry and the perception of veganism amongst men. His biggest fashion tip is to avoid wearing animals and to educate yourself about the source of your clothing before buying!
Aja Barber is a writer, stylist and consultant whose work focuses on intersectional feminism, sustainable fashion, and all the ways systems of power affect our buying habits. Her biggest fashion tip is to find your personal style and to stick with it! By finding a personal style, buyers can stay away from impulsive buys due to the short and endless trend cycles, and hence, avoid buying extra clothes that can pile up in your closet!