Second Hand News
Apart from the well worn statistics regarding our chronic consumerism creating a clothing mountain; what exactly is #SecondHandSeptember adding to the fast fashion fight?
I'll admit to being immediately disparaging on hearing headlines proclaiming, Glastonbury 'Stars' are donating their clothing to the appeal. Is it a token gesture? I mean, will Kylie's sun visor make it's way via sacks of preloved gear collected from doorsteps to the local Oxfam. Will someone find Johnny Marr's shirt tucked in amongst the Burton's easy iron pastels, on a rail in some provincial backwater? Is that the idea? Are Oxfam expecting hoards of pop fans to crowd their stores searching for that 'fabulous gold sparkly jumpsuit' worn by Gabrielle Aplin (yes I've had to Google her too).
When I actually read the story to better understand this new hashtag, I became even more irritated by the whole concept. Having been a disciple of #NoNewClothesForAYear for three years now, I know all about ditching the High Street in favour of eBay bargains and car booty. Coupled with the fact I've upcycled clothing and collected vintage for over 30 years, making it my business in 2006; I think I'm pretty clued up on the old throwaway fashion malarkey. Why then are Oxfam challenging us to stop shopping for clothes in September? A mere month? I wasn't alone in thinking this half hearted gesture rather lame, others took to Twitter;
@ZodiacNein "One month?!!! If I buy clothes once a year I'm buying lots of clothes"
@JayneEdwards2 I haven't bought any for 6 years, I don't buy landfill
@TheRichardReid No new clothes for one month? Hardly challenging.
On and on these tweets go, ranging from disparaging to fury. Do Oxfam think the nation haven't yet discovered charity shops? Do the general masses need Glasto 'Stars' to lead the way by making a public show of donating their cast offs - which will no doubt end up on eBay to be auctioned for a shameful price tag that could probably feed a family of four for a whole year? To be honest, I am relieved that the consensus leaned towards ridicule of this marketing ploy by Oxfam; a company currently under investigation for sex exploitation, bullying and harassment. An article in today's Times newspaper states;
"The charity watchdog took the unusual step yesterday of issuing Oxfam with an official warning for mismanagement after publishing a damning report into the aid organisation."
Playing devils advocate, Oxfam are of course an invaluable source of financial support helping immeasurable numbers of people around the world to lift themselves out of poverty, rebuilding lives and resolving conflict. Their campaigns are far reaching and stretch back decades, a noble, global organisation that may be undeserving of the criticism levelled towards it. So why then head up such a condescending campaign that speaks to us like some twee reception class teacher. To top that we're show the shiny pop stars giving away their (apparently - though I'm not so sure about Sheryl Crow's Primarni style vest top) coveted clothing.
I suppose the argument would be, that if this latest call to war against the fast fashion deluge reaches even a small percentage of the Boohoo brigade, it's got to be positive? I can't really argue with that however, the patronising nature of this crusade could have been better thought out. We may be a nation of shoppers but, to suggest the vast majority buy clothing every month is more than a little crass. When our social consciences are being pricked by everyone from David Attenborough to Stacey Dooley concerning the vast clothing mountain headed for landfill, does Oxfam truly believe we'll be relieved to know The Proclaimers are chucking their teeshirts in too? Should the fact we hear the Lumineers wellies are headed to Oxfam fill us with a newfound purpose that sends us rummaging through the charity chaff?
Then again, how can I ignore the other popular news snippet currently doing the rounds; travel companies around the UK are offering excursions to Birmingham's new Primark, the largest in the country! Day trippers from Scunthorpe to Bognor Regis are flocking to the flagship store where they can leave clutching bags containing enough tat to add significant weight to the 1.13 million tonnes heading to landfil. What's more, they've paid less than their coach fares for it.
Maybe Oxfam have got it right by highlighting the need to slow down the fast fashion disaster in any way they can. Lets face it, whether the masses approve or not, it's got our attention.