“We need to meet fashion consumers at the level which they are at for sustainable fashion to take off in South Africa” — Jessica Ramoshaba.
One of the dangers of the sustainable movement is that, at times, it seems to be talking over the exact consumer it’s hoping to influence.
In my view, a critical approach that needs to happen for sustainability to take off is to educate consumers on how it may benefit the consumers to be more sustainable. It should not be “how (we) sustainable activists wish the fashion consumer to view sustainability”. The truth of the matter is that, whether we like it or not, this category of consumers have the right to spend their hard-earned cash wherever they wish.
Furthermore, fashion consumers buy a variety of items for different reasons that could be linked to emotional attachment. In my opinion, most consumers still have no clue what sustainability is and its impact thereof. For example, fashion designers may design the most beautiful sustainable garments, however, if there is no buy-in from the consumer — it makes it harder to sell these garments. We need to communicate and tap into the fashion consumer experiences and reality with the hope that it will result in making it easier to understand textile waste, overconsumption, and fast fashion. All of these terminologies scare the consumer.
Our goal is to educate our consumers on sustainability. This is done in the hopes of making them feel as if they WANT to buy sustainable garments and learn about sustainability within the fashion industry. This is only when real changes will occur — not when people are forced or feel forced to do something.