As part of Fashion Revolution Week, The Sustainable Future Collective (SFC), the largest student-led sustainability club on campus, hosted a Clothes Swap Party. Jess talked to another Jess, the Co-President of SFC, and students at the event about UoA’s emerging second-hand culture.
Fashion Revolution Week commemorates the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse. The people in this building were manufacturing clothing for many of the biggest global fashion brands. This year marked eight years since the tragedy, which killed 1,138 people. Fashion Revolution seeks to amplify unheard voices across the fashion supply chain and encourage communities to explore innovative and interconnected solutions to create a better fashion industry.
SFC’s clothes swap is part of their programme of Fashion Revolution Week events. Jess says SFC hopes to encourage a second-hand culture at UoA. “There’s no shame in having second-hand clothing. It’s a more sustainable option than buying new clothes.” Jess told Craccum that students donate their pre-loved, quality items, which SFC collects before the event. Then, all students can take their pick of the items on the day, even if they did not donate. Clothes weren’t the only things on the table, with books, jewellery, stationery, décor, perfume, and games also accepted.
The annual event has been running since the club was formed in 2016. SFC was even able to go through with last year’s event, which fell one week before the first lockdown. “It’s been really successful in previous years. Last year most of the clothes on the table were gone.” Jess says they are in contact with op-shops, who collect any items not taken by students.
As well as the clothes swap, SFC hosted an “Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Panel Discussion”. The club also organises a range of social and informative events such as beach clean-ups, volunteering opportunities at the UoA Bee Sanctuary and sustainability workshops. Their “bring your own bowl for vegan ice cream” event to encourage reuse culture at the University also proved to be a success among students.
Antonia, a Global Studies and Sociology student and second-hand shopper, told Craccum people need to move away from feeling the need to keep up with fashion trends. “We should get into the habit of swapping clothes rather than buying things new. It feels so much better.” She says SFC does great work, and she would love to see the University support more initiatives and events like the clothes swap. “There needs to be more recycling bins and compost gardens on campus.”
Despite the recent popularity of their events, Jess says SFC is still working to make sustainable living a long-term practice in students’ lives. “Sustainability is quite a new buzzword at uni at the moment.” She believes UoA students are becoming more conscious, but “the reason our club exists is to shift that consciousness and awareness into action.”
Sam*, a Law and Arts student, says they have purchased second-hand clothing not only because it’s sustainable but mostly because it’s affordable. “It wasn’t always a cool thing. It was actually embarrassing not being able to afford new clothes. But shopping out of necessity taught me how to make sustainable choices.” They told Craccum they’re happy to see more people are shopping second-hand. “Hopefully, it isn’t just another trend, and second-hand is here to stay.”
The University holds a top ten overall spot in the Global Impact Rankings. Jess says new papers offered at UoA like Sustain 100G provide opportunities to study sustainability and sustainable development. But she says more needs to be done outside of education. “The University is doing an ok job at raising awareness about sustainability through education, but in terms of action, clubs like Fossil Free UoA, Generation Zero, and us are trying to push further work in the sustainability space.
*Student’s name has been changed.