You are getting treated to another look at my local Goodwill Outlet Center courtesy of H&M. Yesterday the news broke that the Swedish fast fashion giant is opening a store in Asheville. The way people responded to the news you would have thought the announcement was that ice cream does not have calories.
For some reason Asheville is not content to be the special place we all love. There has always been the thought that our area of the state was always the last to “get” something new. For years Asheville pined for Old Navy. Now we have two. Then it was Target. We now have two of those as well. And just when we thought Trader Joe’s had made life complete, we realized that we don’t have H&M. Except that now we will.
When you look at the photo of the bins above it becomes obvious that there is no shortage of clothing in Asheville. I’ve been though the bins enough to confidently say that at least half of the clothes that go into the bins are cheap, fast fashion. There is an over-abundance of Old Navy, Forever 21, Target and Walmart labels. The stuff is tired and limp, falling apart at the seams.
I was reminded of a recent post on Business of Fashion, The Trouble with Second-hand Clothes. The opinion piece focuses on the practice of charity thrift stores selling their rejects to jobbers in Africa. Huge bundles of clothing are bid on and divided, with it all ending up in the huge second-hand clothing markets of the cities. It doesn’t sound so bad, but the markets are so popular that the textile and clothing manufacturing industry in Sub-Saharan Africa has all but collapsed.
We all think we are doing the right thing when we send our old clothing off to Goodwill, and compared to sending it to a landfill, we are. But the only way to stem the tide of rejected clothing is to buy less to start with. Buy quality clothing that will last longer than one season. Learn how to mend and remove stains. Buy second-hand and vintage clothing. Look for used clothing made from interesting textiles that you can use for sewing projects. Feel free to add to my list in the comments.