Fashion is often used as a way to communicate – how someone dresses is an outward expression of their inner being and can connect them with similar people. Fair Fashion UGA is a club at the University of Georgia that works to bring awareness to climate issues and the ethical concerns of the fashion industry by advocating for environmentally sustainable fashion.
Fair Fashion UGA was started in 2018 as a way to create a community of students interested in the intersection of fashion and environmental awareness. The club serves to inform those on the story behind their clothes, including the processes and journey it takes to get to them.
“We actively work to revolutionize the fashion industry to prioritize human rights, environmental protection and sustainability,” president of Fair Fashion UGA Elaine Garvey said.
Fast fashion is clothing mass produced with cheap materials, cheap labor and a quick turnaround process, according to Garvey. This type of clothing is made to be thrown into the market fast and for the highest profit without concern for the ethics of how it is produced.
“The True Cost” is a documentary Garvey recommends to watch to further understand fast fashion and its specific impacts on the environment. The documentary sparked her interest in sustainable fashion and motivated her to spread the message of conscious clothing.
“With the threat that is climate change, being thoughtful in your everyday fashion decisions is necessary in order to be environmentally conscious at the individual level,” Sam D’Alba, social media manager of Fair Fashion UGA, said.
To club members, the best thing students can do to be more sustainable is to stay informed.
“Staying informed on sustainability and the little steps you can take to make your fashion decisions more sustainable is so important for the future of the fashion industry and the planet,” D’Alba said.
On Instagram, Fair Fashion UGA posts ways for students to take steps to make more conscious fashion choices. Club members recommend students wear what they already have and find multiple uses for it, instead of wearing an item once and throwing it away. They also suggest borrowing and swapping clothes with friends to not add to the existing cycle of clothing.
Shopping at secondhand stores like Goodwill, America’s Thrift Stores or a vintage store is another way to consume more consciously, according to club members. They would also advise students to buy from companies that value sustainability and put an emphasis on the rights of their workers by providing fair wages.
Members of Fair Fashion UGA plan to hold multiple clothing drives, collaborate with other UGA clubs and host workshops on sustainability in the future.
From rings to socks, members of Fair Fashion UGA believe that each decision – no matter how small – can lead to inevitable change.
“As students, we are the next generation and if sustainability is something that we prioritize, then it will be something that businesses, corporations and politicians feel strongly about and that’s how ultimate change is going to happen,” Garvey said.