Temporary, seasonal trends that you cannot miss and clothes that you wear just a few times, does that sound relatable? I bet it does since many pieces of research focused on psychological fashion consumption analysis have identified various external influences in triggering fashion purchasing behavior. And the tendency to keep clothes for a shorter time. However, does this imply the values of tradition, culture, and sustainability being neglected?
Self-expression through fashion
Tradition is a critical value-based element missing in today’s fashion world. A large majority of people are following fast-fashion trends, which are neither sustainable nor reflects our diverse cultures. The so-called fast-fashion makes us all look all the same, bland and limit our self-expression.
I believe that fashion’s mission should be the one allowing us to express our personality, mood, culture, traditions, background, and much more. Fashion phenomena can certainly bring people together while at the same time celebrating individual styles that are also reflecting their personal values. Our own style can be influenced by the fashion industry and cultural changes. However, things like tradition, culture, and sustainability are usually left behind. People tend to forget these important aspects in their constantly running lifestyle where spontaneous purchases take the top. Our behavior is affected by many external factors, such as the place we live, our family, people we talk to or follow on social media.
Tradition getting close to extinction
Nowadays, people are traveling more than ever. Therefore, the migration rate cannot be ignored when discussing tradition’s role, be it in fashion or any other field or industry. According to the United Nations, the number of international migrants worldwide reached 272 million last year, meaning that the number has increased by almost 5 times since 2010.
Departing from this data above, I am assuming that people are becoming more distant from both their roots and the countries they have left. They are becoming part of this homogenous international mass wearing sneakers and jeans. Furthermore, the increasing usage of technologies and innovations is also playing an important role in this regard – our focus is on the future. And even if factors like the Internet, economic and social development, multicultural effects (e.g., migration) can speed up the fashion cycle, tradition, values are the ones to slow it down and make us look to what we have left behind our backs.
Personally, I can say that my 3 years of studies and life in the UK and later in Belgium did make an impact on my perception of traditions, culture, and sustainable fashion. Leaving my country of origin made me feel disconnected as I was trying to get integrated into the new social and cultural contexts abroad. Everything felt so tempting to adapt to my own everyday life and become part of the local community. At that time, I ‘borrowed’ some tips and tricks from the Belgium street fashion that was not even present in Lithuania, and added to my own closet, e.g., wide-legged pants. I enriched my menu with a cup of black tea with milk in the UK, which is so iconic there.
It is easy to get connected these days, you can basically reach out to your idol or a famous fashion influencer within a few taps, follow his/her work, or just superficially created image. However, people are slowly becoming disconnected from their own unique heritage and traditions in this super-connected world. High levels of the attainability of the same or very similar items make us forget our authenticity.
People say you cannot buy happiness, but I guess you can buy clothes to make you happy. Materialistic trends are increasing drastically, especially among young people. According to scientific research on the increased sense of materialism among youth, American people nowadays shop twice than 55 years ago. People tend to buy clothes that would represent their status, assign them to a particular societal group, and build satisfaction.
Similar happened to me, just with sustainable fashion. I was always trying to stay eco-friendly wherever I was. I developed a close relation with Lithuanian, handmade brands that emphasize tradition and culture in their products. I may be one of the many girls walking down the street with an old-fashioned linen bag, but this makes me proud and happy to know that this bag stands for my traditions, culture, and sustainable fashion.