Can Instagram be a Tool to a Sustainable Wardrobe? I say OUI!
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
If there's one thing I know for certain, it's that I was NOT alone in scoffing at the updated Instagram interface. Twitter users left and right were describing the update as, simply, "the mall". And while this change did not evoke warm nostalgic feelings of buying a soft pretzel and spotting your crush from across the food court during middle-school mall hangs, I would like to suggest using this evil update for good.
If you're like me and you didn't exactly grow up in a global fashion capital (i.e. literally every city other than NYC, Paris, London, Milan, LA or Tokyo), fashion can actually be a little hard to access. I grew up with Canadian-based brands (no Canadian girl forgets her first time stepping into Aritzia) so when I began to grow more conscious with my shopping, it wasn't always easy to find and access sustainable brands. Now this may seem silly, as I did come of age during the prime of online shopping, but even being raised in Canada's fourth largest city (quite the feat, I know), just crossing paths with sustainable brands was a challenge during the early days of my fashion metamorphosis. I did dip my toes into fashion blogs in the early 2010s, but it was truly the emergence of Instagram, as much as I hate to say it, that sparked my ability to find brands that really aligned with my own shopping morals (an oxymoronic term).
Instagram has seen many different purposes during its time. I've actually been on the app long enough to remember it's days when it was brown and beige, pre-corporatization, and rife with yellow-tinged, bordered filters. The "hipster" era if you will. And while the photo sharing app really is no longer a photo sharing app at its essence, now that the days of connecting with family and friends through fleeting posts taken on the in-app camera have long since given way to carefully curated sponsored accounts, it can still serve a more grassroots purpose. Though I too am quick to anger at seemingly pointless, and often counterintuitive updates to the app, I will admit that the "saved" feature, which premiered back in 2016, truly upped my game, and lent a hand in terms of my own sustainable consumption.
Hear me out. Vision boards. Sounds very simple, no? Anyone who has worked remotely close to fashion, or even the arts, knows the value of the vision board, the mood board, no matter how vapid it sounds at face value.
Hear me out. Vision boards. Sounds very simple, no? Anyone who has worked remotely close to fashion, or even the arts, knows the value of the vision board, the mood board, no matter how vapid it sounds at face value. And it is in my humble opinion a well curated Instagram saved page/moodboard is the ticket to a more sustainable closet. How so, you may ask? Well there are two outstanding reasons.
First and foremost, leveraging the Instagram saved feature is a simple way to discover sustainable brands. Brands that produce their products responsibly, as we've often highlighted here at Bandlands Inc.™, are typically quite small with minimal exposure. This is for several reasons, including the fact that fully sustainable brands are a somewhat new concept that are just starting out, coupled with the fact that they often produce in small batch numbers, accounting for their garments ending up on the backs of fewer clients. Instagram, however evil at times, has been the small-scale brand's best friend, because a carefully and perfectly curated page equals to unlimited exposure and partnerships with the conscious-minded influencer, if you're lucky. I have discovered the majority of my favourite small-time sustainable brands through Instagram explore, as the more sustainable brands I interact with, like, and save to my own moodboards, the more sustainable brands ye ole algorithm gives me.
Yes, algorithms are bad, and yes I think more users can agree that algorithms have kinda ruined Instagram (I can't go 12 hours without hearing that Instagram is over these days), but we can use them to our advantage, and curate our own pages featuring responsible brands thanks to a little interaction. I, personally, have a style board, as well as a sustainability board in order to gather brands I'd like to allocate a little fashion fund into once I've saved enough. Keeping track and keeping tabs on the brands that are doing something to make the world a better and more conscious place certainly can't be a bad thing. It's never been easier to find what sustainable brands really work for you and your needs!
Developing a lasting style that works for you long-term, however, counters the constant movement of the fashion system and trend cycle, causing consumers to consume less, and wear what they already own much longer, as it already works for them.
Second to simply finding more sustainable brands using explore and taking advantage of the algorithm, I also find that using the explore page inches me closer to my own personal, lasting style. Now where does this play a part in sustainability? Fast fashion is trend-focused. Plain and simple. Zara doesn't want you to get caught on one look too long, lest they miss out on profit next season. Developing a lasting style that works for you long-term, however, counters the constant movement of the fashion system and trend cycle, causing consumers to consume less, and wear what they already own much longer, as it already works for them. Ultimately, consuming less is the number one most important pillar to sustainability. Now here's the thing. Personal style, no matter how much fashion magazines hate to admit it, is... personal. It can't be taught, and every individual has their own individual taste. But the good news is, through a little moodboarding, you too can slowly but surely uncover a style that you feel comfortable and amazing in, and most importantly, that some disconnected fashion editor didn't shove down your throat as "slimming" or "flattering".
I've found in my own years of moodboarding through Instagram saved, as well as the FAR more advanced art of ~collage~ that my personal taste has grown immensely. Sure, I've also aged, which is actually surprisingly important. As a recent member of the mid-20s age group I can attest to the fact that young people truly are more likely to follow trend. And, aside from the unsustainability of it all, trendiness isn't necessarily a crime. If anything, it's an exercise in self-discovery. By adhering to different trends and experimenting with fashion, you truly find yourself, and what you like to wear, what looks best on you, and what makes you feel your best. Sustainability is a journey after all. But a moodboard, at any age, can certainly guide you by helping you collect the most obscure style references, and comparing every look that tickles your fancy, creating a singular image of how you want to dress. The mediocre democracy of attention on Instagram also allows you to find fashion figures with similar body-types to yourself, truly tailoring your mood boards and saved pages to your shape and comfort level. In finding your style, through a collection of Instagram images in this case, you can truly identify what pieces can be lasting in your perfect wardrobe, research what brands they come from, and ultimately find what garments prevent you from consuming en masse each season. Yeah, it's kinda weird imagining fashion without constant "new", but trust me, there's no better feeling, nothing more self-assuring, than discovering your own personal look.
Instagram has become a dark place. As has fashion. But it's best to look on the bright side of the systemic powers that be, and figure out how we can manipulate them into being better, to start consuming better. Use Instagrams moodboards to discover and collect sustainable designers who speak to you. It certainly can't hurt. At the end of the day, a well-established and lasting personal taste is one of the many ingredients to a socially responsible, and feel-good, wardrobe. And the Instagram saved page really is a tool to develop this taste, even if it wasn't intended to be. So go forth. Search for responsible designers and brands. Save a collection that reflects who you are. At the end of the day we have to consume clothes to cover ourselves and to participate in society. Duh. Might as well find some clothes that are made with morality, and will last in your wardrobe for seasons to come.