Buy Less, Dress Up More: Property of Society x Over & Over Editorial

“Buy less, choose well, make it last,” the matriarch of punk says to Dazed. Vivienne Westwood’s words first produced a frown from me, as I looked up my overflowing wardrobe and thought about how my garage has become a storage facility for the overwhelming amount of clothing I own. A lot of it from fast fashion retailers which, when I was younger, I would frequent habitually. Constantly purchasing the latest trends, from hot pink blazers to sneaker wedges and high-love skirts – most of which I haven’t touched since wearing them once or twice a long time ago. 
But then I remember my Textiles and Fashion lecture in first year, where we watched The True Cost and learnt how the textile industry is the second biggest contributor to the deterioration and destruction of our earth. How a culture of instant gratification, see now, buy now and rapid mass production has led to 50 fashion cycles a year (True Cost, 2015), seeing the rise of carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide pollution and the consumption of 5 trillion liters of water a year (World Resources Institute, 2017). Add in the maltreatment of agriculture and garment factory labourers and it can be seen that fast fashion has ironically made clothing more costly than ever. 
Beret, belt, sunglasses and dress: Over & Over | denim top/skirt hem: Property of Society | mules: model’s own
And while Westwood’s comments leaned more towards her desire for consumers to encourage great design, “buy less” epitomises how consumer buying power can truly effect change in a system killing our earth and our people. We need to start putting more thought into our purchasing decisions. We need to think about what R49,99 for a t-shirt really means for greenhouse gases and our increasing land fills. We need to think ethically about who makes our clothes and what their working conditions are, how a bargain for ourselves means an empty stomach for someone else. 
Of course, the textile industry is just one part of a greater, capitalist evil but it’s a sector I care about a lot, obviously. Which is why I’m pushing myself and my wallet to become an ethical consumer. And I’m trying to not to let my privilege blind me from the fact that the idea of spending larger sums of money on clothing is not the most sustainable choice for people struggling to attain a decent standard of living in an increasing gap between the rich and the poor, particularly when the greater consensus still sees the textile industry as frivolous and unimportant. As if the clothes we wear on our backs, primarily for warmth and utility, and then still as visual communication, are a frivolous and self-indulgent expense. 
But fast fashion has made us seriously undervalue clothes, it only seems right that a t-shirt should be under R100 and it makes perfect sense that quality clothing that has last decades costs R20 at the thrift store. As someone who’s laboured behind a sewing machine several times, I always find it jarring when someone thinks that a “simple tank top” shouldn’t cost “this much” when I know that garment construction, a craft that still requires much of the same physical labour as it did 20 years ago, is just as artisanal a job as plumbing or vehicle repair. Although, at the same time, I’m also a 20 year whose account finds relief in frequent Hospice and town.
Denim PVC coat and jeans: Property of Society | beret, sunglasses, coat, top and boots: Over & Over
Left – pageboy cap, sunglasses, shirt, plaid skirt, trousers and cut-out boots: Over & Over | denim coat: Property of Society
Right – denim PVC jacket: Property of Society | tulle robe: model’s own

Denim PVC jacket and top/skirt hem: Property of Society | tulle robe: model’s own | plaid dress and cutout boots: Over & Over
My thoughts on sustainable and ethical fashion led me to collaborating on this editorial with local brand, Property of Society, and online thrift store, Over & Over. If I’m going to wax poetic about our dying Earth and very concerning local fashion industry, I may as well start walking the walk too. I haven’t figured out all the solutions as to how I can greatly reduce my carbon footprint and contribute to a better world, while still being able to pay my wifi bill or fill up my tank (ugh, nice life problems, amirite), but I can do something by purchasing ethically and locally produced clothing like that of Property of Society – which is a brand, by Wandile Mbonani, that places a serious emphasis on creating sustainable clothing. He’s even started a bartering event to discourage clothing waste and added consumption called Style Tit for Tat. Property of Society also has an initiative wherein they upcycle and redesign any of the denim you’re currently very bored with.
Or support your local boss bitch, like Shannon Daniels, photographer and owner of Over & Over, and recycle beautiful, second-hand clothing.
I’ve considered making this post even longer by talking about what a messy shoot this was, with photographers flaking and pedestrians being looky-loo’s while we shot in the Pretoria CBD or how the God laughed at all my plans that day but I’d much rather hear your thoughts about sustainable fashion and what your solutions and musings are. Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter (@glitterdaiquiri).
(For more images, please visit my portfolio.)
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Credits
Art Direction: Khensani Mohlatlole
Photography: Shannon Daniels
Styling: Wandile Mbonani & Shannon Daniels
Make-up: Jessica Goldberg
Assistants: Njeri Nganga, Savon Matjane and Siya Mtshali
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Sources:
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