Another Lenten season is almost upon us and Christians around the world, mainly from the Orthodox denomination/s, are packing their coffee, mars bars and other minor indulgences away for another 40 plus days. The sacrifice, if you can call it a sacrifice, does rather pale into insignificance compared with Christ’s 40 days in the desert — that’s desert and not dessert.
Perhaps Lent has some meaningful lessons for the fashion world too? What if some of the major Fashion Brands gave up exploiting third world labour for 40 days and insisted on fair wages for works during this 6 week amnesty? What if the guilty Fashion Houses (we all know who they are) reflected on the barbarity of the fur trade for 40 days – perhaps their suppressed spirit of compassion would see the light of day? What if the fashion trade gave up production methods that harm the environment and during the 40 days held collective workshops seeking environmentally-friendly alternatives? …And us, the consumer, what if we gave up a piece of designer clothing in our wardrobe and donated it to charity and agreed to buy only ethically and environmentally conducive clothing during Lent. What if? What if? What if?
It’s not all doom, gloom and cynicism — the fashion world can take heart from a growing number of ethically and environmentally responsible brands: KOhZO, Loomstate, Edun, Coexist and Stella McCartney amongst others.
Even icons of consumerism and their devotees should turn to the sacred for at least 40 days each year.