By Promod Puri
I confess a feeling of guilt erupted within me after buying a pair of pant the other day. This despite the fact, in my otherwise sparse closet, there are enough pants to last till next five to six years or more. But I purchased it anyway with disregard to my needs.
Adding to our collection of clothing is an obsession which most of us have. And the fashion industry exploits this urge by offering the latest in designs. Moreover, we have an inborn appetite for newness in our passion for clothing.
How much wardrobe is essential to meet our body covering compliance as well as a social necessity to express and exhibit ourselves for all occasions? We have daywear, nightwear, workwear, gym wear, party wear, casual wear, etc. But that is the norm. And to meet this norm, clothing is one of our big expense items.
In the proverbial saying “food, shelter and clothing” as our basic needs, clothing has jumped beyond these fundamentals to compulsive buying temperament.
No wonder, when we go to a shopping mall or a factory outlet, most of the retail shops are wear-related. There are clothing wears, shoe wears, jewelry wear, and even the perfume industry also advertise its products as wearable odors.
Coming back to the clothing, my observation is that we keep buying more of the stuff without discarding the old ones. A friend boasted that he has over 50 pairs of pants and an equal number of shirts, plus 20 suites, along with almost two dozen ties to complete his formal wears. Another friend said she has over 200 Punjabi suits with an addition of about five-plus every year. She does not wear these suits every day as she is working. And for that, there is another big pile of workwear.
To me and I’m sure many among us, the apparel equity to accumulate the stock approaching afterlife is a wastage cluster, a chunk of that hangs like deceased bodies in the closets.
However, that scenario is reportedly changing fast. The apparel possessors are an abating people, while the trend developing swiftly is to dispose of the no-more-likable, non-fit, non-fashion garments in the second-hand buying-selling market.
The second-hand clothing business catering to customers of all age groups is booming. In fact, the name-brand clothing in the reuse market carry attention and value, and customers love to grab the bargains.
The second-time-around online and in-store buying and selling garment enterprises are popping up, which are easing on our packed closet warehouse. And then there are peer-to-peer services available where sellers send photographs of their clothing items to the handling company and eventually ship the items to buyers.
The second-hand clothing market is reportedly a multi-billion-dollar industry now with a projection of moving skyward. In this trend known retailors and clothing manufacturers are jumping on board. H & M, Macy’s and JC Penny will soon be selling good and look-like-new clothing to their customers.
This is a circular economy in the clothing industry. The use-and-reuse is the very mantra for safeguarding our environment. Otherwise, the fashion industry produces a colossal amount of waste, which is close to 100 million tons a year.
Since I believe in the circular economy, my guilt in buying the new pair of pant gets some relief that down the road it will end up for re-wear on somebody’s petite physique like mine.
At the same time over the years I’ve developed a policy of buy one and discard one the next day. However, the regret is that some time for some reason, I return the new one but can’t recover the discarded one.
(Promod Puri is a writer and author of Hinduism, beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)