The Oscars and Sustainability: Is Fashion a Parasite to the Planet?

The fast-fashion industry is a parasite to our planet, responsible for 10% of our carbon emissions. Rather than opting for new ballgowns, it was hoped the stars would delve into more sustainable choices, promoting to their fans the joys of old clothes. But after the feeble attempt of sustainability at this years BAFTAS – would the Oscars be any different?

It was quite a disappointment to many an environmentalist that despite BAFTA issuing a
statement asking attendees to opt for sustainability, not many attendees did. Sure, Kate
Middleton rewore a dress from 2012. Saoirse Ronan chose a dress made of discarded satin. Joaquin Phoenix rocked the same Stella McCartney suit he’d been wearing all season. But there wasn’t much else to talk about.

Hope turned towards the Oscars, where indeed the situation looked a lot better.

As a vintage lover I was in delight, marvelling at the stars who had creatively come up with a way to advocate sustainability. More stars chose vintage than usually seen at the Academy Awards, opting for old pieces from some of the great fashion houses. Margot Robbie was quite the Bombshell in her Chanel dress. This wasn’t her first time wearing vintage Chanel on the red carpet for she had also tried this at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Our Jo from Little Women, Saoirse Ronan, was again to inspire us with her fashion taste. However, she wasn’t exactly wearing the gorgeous plaid dresses from Gerwig’s film. Instead, she chose to swap 1860s attire for modern-day Gucci – but sustainable. The top of her dress was the off-cut to the dress she had worn to the
BAFTAs the weekend before. Kaitlyn Denver and Léa Seydoux, both ambassadors for Red Carpet Green Dress Initiative, stunned us all in beautiful sustainable Louis Vuitton dresses.

Then there was fabulous outfit-repeating. Jane Fonda was leading the way in a sensational red dress she’d worn six years ago. So too did Elizabeth Banks pose in an old red dress, this one from 2004. Banks looked incredibly youthful, like no time had passed since she had last worn the dress. Timeless indeed.

Other stars worth mentioning include Olivia Coleman and her sustainable velvet dress, Lily Aldridge in vintage Gucci and Joanne Tucker in an old Oscar de la Renta gown.

Upon hearing all this, it sounds like the Oscars are winning many an award in helping to make our world a more environmentally friendly place. Yet that is where we are mistaken. Many of the nominees of the night opted to ignore all this and go for new, despite the fact that the fashion industry causes far more damage to the planet than international flights do! The thought of an entirely vintage red carpet is magical; an endless array of 1950s ballgowns and suits – imagine. And think of the elegance if stars like Scarlett Johansson had delved into the closet of Marilyn, or Audrey, or some other old film star…

The impact these celebrities have on their fans is immense. Millions could be influenced to rewear and restyle – Little Women all over the world wish to dress like their favourite stars. They too wish to have the elegance and the charm and the charisma of stars such as Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Hopefully some of them will be inspired to choose second-hand having watched this years ceremony. And if not? Well, let us just hope that our stars will continue to channel vintage and sustainability at every other red carpet event this year, Met Gala to Cannes and beyond. But for now, we’ll have to make the start on our own.

Well, vintage is a start. A quick glance around campus and it is clear that it is certainly popular. Donning an outfit from one of the West End’s many vintage and charity shops or rewearing an old piece of clothing. (I recently discovered a knitted jumper from when I was nine years old. It’s still lovely – and it still fits!)

Though with the High Street being littered with fast-fashion brands and the Internet wielding endless temptation, it is difficult to avoid impulse buys. Instagram is constantly bombarding us with adverts for fast-fashion brands like Shein or Boohoo. According to website GoodonYou, brought to light ethical and eco issues with Shein to Topshop – a clothing brand that many of us shop at guilt-free. I’d spent countless hours scrolling through their website or trying on various outfits in the changing rooms… All with absolutely no idea of the impact! After doing my research, I have vowed to stop shopping there until they change their habits.

With Glasgow to take centre stage in November with the UN Climate Change Conference, we as students should prepare for the occasion… Let us not be a Parasite on the planet – let us ditch fast-fashion once and for all.

[Emilija Morrison – she/her – @emilijakatinas]

[Photo credit: analogicus]

 

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