Was Ivanka Trump making a statement about sustainable fashion when she repeated an outfit on her recent India visit? The floral print Proenza Schouler dress that she wore on her first day in India was one that she had previously worn on a visit to Argentina in September last year. It made her only the latest celebrity to repeat an outfit, a list that includes the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex and former US First Lady Michelle Obama. Clearly, wearing the same dress again — and again — is no longer a fashion faux pas.
Whether or not Trump intended to become the latest hero of sustainable fashion, the message telegraphed by her dress is important. Multiple studies have shown that the fashion industry is one of the top contributors to environmental damage. Processing units, which use toxic chemicals, are amongst the worst polluters of water sources. Fashion is also notoriously thirsty. A kilo of cotton, for example, guzzles an average of 10,000 to 20,000 litres of water. And then there’s the waste problem. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, “fast fashion” has contributed to textile waste growing by over 800 per cent since the 1960s. Much of this is synthetic textile waste and, to rewrite fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, fashion fades, but fashion waste is eternal.
In fact, data on fashion’s carbon footprint should be enough to scare consumers into questioning how their trendy — and cheap — outfits are produced and how they’re disposed. To put things in perspective, about one load of polyester, made using fossil fuel, releases roughly 7,00,000 microplastic fibres with each wash; these are among the microplastics that have been found even in the Mariana Trench. Compared to finding that last season’s rayon jumpsuit ended up in the belly of a deep sea-dwelling fish, surely repeating an outfit a few times is a lesser horror.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines