I’ve always paired the concept of overconsumption, with material goods. And as clothing is such a prevailing part of all our lives, it’s an easy category to observe when consumption goes into overdrive.
Overconsumption is prevalent in almost every aspect of our lives. From clothing and homeware, to food and technology, perpetuating constant oversaturation.
The demise of the British high street, along with traditional retail, has been well documented in recent years. Indicating perhaps that we have finally reached peak stuff. Such saturation now causes us to seek experiences over material goods. And those who provide the goods are faced with the challenge of convincing us to buy.
For those of my own generation, the daily reality of overconsumption is not alien. We haven’t really known any other way.
But as the environment crumbles before us, demanding us as a society to change our habits in order to preserve it, understanding how we reached this position, might help us find a solution.
At a recent talk given by Professor Kate Fletcher at the ENC last month, this very question was explored. And far from being a complex head spinner, Fletcher’s talk reflected on a remarkably simple concept.
In society today, volume indicates success.
If you are an individual, success is to have more material possessions. And if you are a company, it’s to produce them in larger quantities and at a faster pace.
That is how we define success in our world and in so doing it moulds the decisions we make both as consumers and producers.
I wanted to somehow re-express the thoughts that I took away from Fletcher’s talk, but her words were so perfect, I thought I’d stick with them.
Here are eight of the key points she made:
As someone who runs a business producing clothing, I’m often asked what my plans are as I move forward. How am I going to scale, and more specifically, how am I going to grow?
My truthful answer is to improve my knowledge of the fashion sector and the environmental issues we face today, so that I may use this knowledge to inform the way I run my company and manufacture garments. My desire is not to be the next mega brand. It is to work with a small group of passionate individuals in a efficient and innovative way, to produce modern and timeless products in the most sustainable, ethical and transparent way possible.
Given our typical understanding of success as a society, this answer rarely satisfies the enquirer.
I do not measure success purely by units sold.
I am driven by people. By craftsmanship. And by real collaboration.
Not by volume, speed, or trend.