Fashion, the planet, confinement, the future and I

For the first time since confinment started I have not written my weekly article.

Today,  I feel like I can’t write until I have shared my current thoughts.

Only three days after the dramatic terrorist attacks of November 2015, I wrote a text about how I felt. Hoping Paris would rise again as it always had. Fluctuat nec mergitur. “It is beaten by the waves but does not sink” as says the device of the city. It did not. I remember my deepest fear would be not to be able to enjoy a carefree life in the city. Yet, time soothes wounds and sitting on a parisian terrace has ceased bringing me terrible memories long ago.

Coronavirus however, is not a fiend, but a natural disaster which attacks our human bodies and those of our medical systems.

When I heard about confinement I was scared and in denial. I wanted to believe this would be over in just two weeks.

The first week I was shook and useless. Incapable to focus on a book, I decided to think about “the after-confinment” to get me going about what I could do with all this free time. So, I kind of mechanically wrote the part 2 of my fashion week post… even if part 1 felt like it was from another world. I also begun an instagram series about fashion inspirations in my stories, the feedback and growing number of followers giving me energy.

Oh and I managed to read a book… kind of circumstantial though: “Into the forest” by Jean Hegland.

Weeks went by, posting my articles, feeding my stories.

Enjoying the times with my sister and the ones who I am lucky to be confined in a comfortable house with garden.

Compulsively reading articles about the current crisis, and, increasingly, as time went by, analysises about “the aftermath” and that, dear readers, is what caused my sudden breakdown.

You see, I am, as many, growingly concerned about the environmental crisis. If you are a regular reader, you probably have perceived that I encourage quality and moderate buying along with creative styling and second hand, as a way to lower the impact of our fashion consumption.

I feel the world’s economical system (fashion system included) is like an unstoppable car, driving full speed on the wall.

After the first week of being scared. I thought: what if, the coronavirus could be the break we needed to slow turn and drive sideways from that wall that was awaiting us?

Doesn’t the crisis prove we work and produce so much more than we need? Food, care, information, city cleansing and regulation… that’s it for the moment.  Of course, there is more to humanity than basic needs. A society needs culture, it needs it needs movies, it needs books, needs concerts… And stuffs too: we needs homes, we need tools  and needs clothes… but we do not need SO MUCH? Too much is the opposite of what we need.

What we need is less.

Therefore, couldn’t we collectively work less? The current situation proves we could.

Why are we all running like hamsters in a wheel to create more and faster?

Back to lockdown situation. Though the dramatic deprivation of our freedom, the sky has never been purer. It proves both that drastic measures can be taken when they need to be and that they have effects. Hopeful, I thought such drastic measures could be taken to fight climate change afterwards.

I wanted to believe, we will rise to a better world. Didn’t our president say we could take this hint way from this crisis to build a more resilient society? Maybe leaders from the world would agree and work hand in hand?

Alas… Now business organisations say we will have to “work harder”. But for what? Going back to the old system that was going full speed in the wrong direction it seems.

I was hoping for a system shift.

I am afraid capitalism will still be the norm, just with damaged economies and poorer people all around the world.

What am I to do now I wonder. As a tiny individual. To keep in track with my beliefs.

My job suddenly seems futile. I feel have no special qualification in environment. I just read a lot of information about it.

What I know is how to consume less clothes and choose the good ones… whilst keeping fashion a joy.

I wrote a book about it before all this started. Called “Why french women wear vintage and other secrets of sustainable style” which will be released on August 6 this year.

That’s a thing I can do: inspire people to consume fashion in a better way by teaching about clothes and styling.

I can also keep doing wardrobe editing, to help my clients style, rediscover and enjoy what they already own.

I can help people to get familiar with vintage and sustainably made clothes.

Give ideas on how to alter and mend what they have.

Those sound like such tiny things compared to the task that awaits us humans.

This morning, my friend Lan Anh sent me a video that brought me hope. A man, dancing solo on a hill full of people sitting around. It takes a good minute for a second man to join him and dance. He has the gut to be the first follower. Then a third man joins… and within three minutes there is no leader anymore, just a herd dancing. First solo guys inspired those around him.

So even if we feel powerless,  we can inspire those around us. And maybe they will inspire those around them. And we will create a herd. Of people who want not only a sustainable fashion but a sustainable world. Let’s hope it spreads as quick as the virus… for the better.

I already see many Instagram influencers who have shifted from fast fashion to sustainable fashion. Some blame them to be opportunists. But we all have to take a change at one point. One doesn’t have to be perfect from the start.

Let’s join all those who screamed in the desert, all the converted and build a more sustainable fashion together.

I would like to say ” a more sustainable world” but there is only so much (so little) I can have influence on.

That’s my stone.

Be the first solo dancer, have the guts to follow the dancer or join the herd. The most important is not when you do it, it’s to take the plunge.

34 Responses to “Fashion, the planet, confinement, the future and I”
  1. Janice Riggs says:

    Our work is important – we don’t save lives, maybe, but we are doing what we know how to do to help lots of women get control over their spending, and their self-image, and their wardrobes, and their share of environmental damage that comes from the fashion industry. It really matters – we contribute in our own way…

    big hugs,

  2. Catherine says:

    Yes! I feel like this too and it is so good to see so many others do. It is really good to keep this conversation going. I even plan to come back here again to read once more and contemplate the ideas some more. Thank you!

  3. You captured my thoughts so well! I am so afraid that it will be like the 40s, where buying will become a patriotic acts because we have to save our economy. I am looking forward to your book, incidentally just yesterday I discovered that you have already written one and I was like “why haven’t I read that yet.”

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Oh!Then give me a feedback after you have read it!

    • Kat says:

      Perfectly said. I hope we never go back to the old way. I thrift most of my clothes (except things close to the body like undergarments obviously) because I love the feeling of treasure hunting. I continue to be amazed at my amazing treasure finds: Isabel Marant skirt, Persian lamb jacket, etc. I could never afford these things on my own, but thrifted, i can. I look forward to your book.

      I walk my dog daily so I get “dressed up” for that! I wear my lipstick so it can be seen from a distance before quickly putting on my mask. And occasionally my neighbor who is a horticulturist and I will do what we call “6 feet apart not 6 feet under” walks and we will put on dresses as she calls out the Latin names of plants in the neighborhood. Not exactly dancing on a hilltop but our way of staying sane and even laughing at what we’re wearing. Thank you for writing. I appreciate your work

  4. Lise says:

    It makes me happy to read that there are people (you and your readers) who feel like I do and also long for change. Hopefully one day decency will outweigh greed, but for now I am not sure it does and that makes me sad. I love your approach and what you do is important, as you are changing mind-sets. I have mostly shopped 2nd hand for the last five years and I now my wardrobe has many stunning, good quality pieces and I won’t need to shop for a long time. Please keep up your informative blog, one of my favourites.

  5. Cécile says:

    Aloïs mille mercis pour cet article plein d’authenticité.
    Je suis moi-même en plein désarroi parfois et le fait de vous lire me donne du courage. Oui ce que vous écrivez est utile. Je vous avais déjà dit que votre style et vos articles incitaient à l’action, à la prise de recul, à s’amuser et à se renouveler avec ce que l’on a déjà. Pensez-vous que les besoins de l’être humain se limitent à manger boire respirer dormir se reproduire ? Aloïs nous avons besoin de nous sentir créatifs, nous avons besoin de beauté, d’art, d’humour et de relations. Après avoir lu vos articles, je vais souvent piocher dans ma garde-robe et y dénicher une idée puis une tenue dans laquelle je me sentirais non seulement jolie, mais fière d’avoir „fait avec ce qui est disponible“. Je diffuse vos bonnes idées autour de moi. Je me sens pleine d’optimisme.
    Vous n’enfermez jamais vos lecteurs dans des cadres, vous leur donnez les clés pour créer et s’amuser.
    Le confinement est une magnifique occasion pour le faire encore plus et vos articles nous y aident.
    Je vous souhaite un excellent dimanche et ai hâte de découvrir ce que vous avez sous le coude pour nous.
    Je vous embrasse,

  6. Simone says:

    I hear you Alois. Your article touched me deeply. Like you, I wish the world could reflect on how this virus has caused us all to slow down and hopefully readjust our priorities. I agree that it is so sad that capitalism will most likely go into overdrive once the restrictions are lifted. I hope though that some things will change for the better.
    Please never doubt that what you do is important. You don’t need to have a degree in environmental science to educate us as wonderfully as you do on the damage fast fashion and overconsumption does to this beautiful planet. For example, you have inspired me, a middle-aged woman from far away Australia, to continue buying secondhand and simplify my style. I will continue to read your posts with great interest. We need your words out there. I understand your heartbreak and frustration. But people are listening. Your book was extremely helpful and no doubt future ones will be also. This IS important work you are doing. Best wishes.

  7. Eléonore says:

    Chère Aloïs,
    Je ressens et comprends ton désarroi.
    Je me pose les mêmes questions.
    Je tire les même conclusions tant sur le fonctionnement politique et d’une partie de la population quant à notre utilité dans ce monde. Et rejoins les personnes ayant commenté ce post.
    J’aime penser à l’image du battement d’ailes de papillon. So. Continue ce en quoi tu crois et fais si bien. Tu fais ta part, tu plantes des graines et le Monde (que dis-je la Terre!) t’en est reconnaissant.

  8. Brigitte says:

    Super votre article. Comme vous j’ai l’impression que les gens n’arrivent pas à se remettre en question sur leur façon de consommer .C’était pourtant l’occasion d’avoir le temps de réfléchir aux actions à faire pour changer le monde .Mais l’on entend parler uniquement de reprise économique !!!!
    Je suis contente d’apprendre la sortie prochaine de votre deuxième livre, mais pourquoi encore en anglais ??? J’ai tellement de difficultés à traduire le premier. Je traduis mot à mot et je pense que ma traduction n ‘est pas toujours bonne pour avoir le sens des phrases.
    Les françaises ont aussi besoin de vous lire !…
    Merci pour tout vos blogs

  9. Marty says:

    Chère Aloïs,
    ton message montre un côté intéressant de la crise: de diverses manières, l’être véritable de ceux que nous croisons, virtuellement ou pas, se révèle. Nous sommes plus nombreux, nombreuses, à dire la vulnérabilité qui nous habite. Et à le faire dans les lieux qui normalement ne sont pas considérés comme appropriés pour cela. Les frontières sont plus poreuses entre les différentes sphères, personnelle, sociale, professionnelle, de nos vies. Je n’ai pas de réponses aux questions que tu poses, je me les pose aussi. Je suis persuadée cependant de l’importance de ton travail, qui réside moins dans l’activité elle-même que dans la conscience et la manière dont tu t’y engages. Ton être est là Aloïs, c’est ce que j’apprécie, ce qui donne tout son sens à la chose. C’est tout sauf futile.

  10. Violette.b says:

    Bonjour ,
    En effet on réfléchit à l’après d’autant qu’on a une date.

    Oui le MEDEF veut des heures sup mais c’est le marché qui fait loi ….. alors si pas de besoins , si plus les mêmes besoins , si pénurie de composants , si interactions limitées …..ben même le MEDEF fera avec …. ah ah .

    La grande interrogation des consultants …..les consommateurs de” l’après” auront ils changé ? abîme totale ?

    Des hauts , des bas , comme pour 2015 on ne sera plus comme avant , même si les mauvais plis vont revenir vite mais moi je crois dans de nouveaux plis , ceux qu’on ne voyait pas encore , une accélération de certaines choses .

    On saura ce qui est essentiel pour l’avoir expérimenté .

    On va manquer de Culture , créations , pendant près d ‘un an …..on sera avides de cela , de mode , d’art , de beauté ,
    Votre livre tombera à pic , le French Way of Life est une valeur sure …..tellement sure , moi cela me réconforte.

    Hauts les cœurs

  11. Ruth says:

    I love this post for its depth of reflection, honesty, and hope. Although you say that what you have to lend to society’s task ahead seems to you “such tiny things compared to the task that awaits us humans,” I would argue that everyone has a different role to play and measuring the value or size of one role against another is misguided. Everyone who is playing a role in moving us towards a more sustainable, healthier, saner, kinder, more equal future is essential to the task. We need all of us. One does not say of the coat that keeps us warm that the fabric is more important than the thread of the seams, or that the thread is more important than the button it holds on, or that the button is more important than the button hole, as all serve separate but important functions. Given what we know about the trash crisis and the role fast fashion has played in it; given what we know about how much waste (economic as well as material) is replete in the fashion industry; given what we know about the role of personal presentation as formative as well as reflective of personal psychology and self image, your work strikes me as not only important but that it will be even more important in the days ahead. Speaking personally, you have helped me a great deal with how perceptive and analytical you are. And as someone who owns at least two dozen books intended to advise individuals about fashion and style, I can say that your book Dress Like a Parisian is without doubt the most thorough, perceptive, and helpful. So I’m excited to hear that you have a new book coming out. Congratulations and thank you for all you do!

  12. eveange66 says:

    Nous avons tous les ressources pour recommencer, pour commencer, pour finir, pour créer.
    Rien n’est perdu mais il est vrai que la facilité n’est pas pour demain.
    Mais justement, quel challenge !!
    Je crois aussi que, surtout en France et n’en déplaise aux Gilets Jaunes, nous n’avons pas assez apprécié ni profité des avantages qui étaient les nôtres ces derniers années (même si, ô combien, les inégalités et les problèmes existaient).
    Avec le chômage en baisse (et oui, fini ce “bon temps” que personne ne voulait voir), les créations de petites entreprises se multipliant, les commandes sur Amazon à gogo, les deux boites à roues par famille….
    Je suis ravie que vous soyez toujours présente dans le monde du blog. Je reste persuadée que, hélas, les personnes qui font appel à vous resteront, en majorité, celles qui s’en sortent le mieux, encore. Profitez en.
    Les cartes seront peut être rebattues … un temps, et c’est à nous de voir où le “jeu” nous mène et quelles sont les priorités, nos priorités.
    Nous sommes tous des chrysalides en devenir.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      C’est joli cette métaphore de chrysalides.
      Vous avez raison, ce sont des personnes aisées qui font appel à moi… mais mes lectrices sont, je le pense plus hétéroclites.
      Et je ne suis pas la seule à professer de porter plus de vintage, de consommer moins de se tourner vers l’éco responsable et le recyclage! Il y a aussi beaucoup de petites et “grosses” influenceuses instagram qui s’adressent à un public jeune.

  13. Nancy says:

    Alois, do not think your job is futile! You have been such an inspiration to me! I while back, I was seeking a promotion and suffered a setback. At the same time, I noticed that clothing that used to look good on me no longer did. While examining my situation, I realized that dressing stylishly can give one a huge boost in confidence. I learned so much from your blog and book, such as the need for more basic pieces; and I subsequently got that promotion!

    I am now very much into fashion, not only as a creative outlet, but as a stress reliever too. As an environmental scientist, I totally agree that we own too much, and must be more sustainable. I love second hand and vintage finds, as I find the quality lacking in fast fashion. As a mother who raised two girls, I found that sewing and repurposing was not only fun, but necessary! I hope that other young women have that opportunity.

    Keep up the good work, there are a lot of us out there that really appreciate you!

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Merci beaucoup Nancy for the testimony. I am always happy to know I have been able to change things at a distance.
      And it is incredible to now you are an environmental scientist. We need people like you <3

  14. Alois,

    I feel your heart breaking through your words, and your sincerity and passion for saving the world. It is true we cannot individually alter the course of the world radically, yet I think what you do is powerful and necessary. Life without color, beauty, culture, and fashion is joyless and bland. I have pre-ordered your book, and look forward to it very much.

    When I was in training to be a psychologist, I met with a child whose world was full of dreadful, damaging people, and I thought that what I did for him was nothing. In tears, I asked my supervisor: what is the point? She told me something very important: Did I make a difference to that one child, for that one hour? Was I kind? Was I a safe adult? Did I make him feel cared for? And the answer was of course I did – I mattered to one child, for one hour, and maybe it wasn’t enough, but it was something.

    You are doing what you do best, and you make a difference.

  15. Lisa Proctor says:

    Beautiful and thought-provoking piece! If we all do something, things can change.

  16. Juhi says:

    You have so beautifully captured the feelings that keep many thinking people up at night. Many of us do not really believe in the society we are stuck in but feel largely powerless to change things.

    Before the pandemic, I read an opinion piece in the New York Times that actually outlined actions we could take as individuals to help. These were actions meant to effect systemic change, not just the usual individual tips to recycle. As I am not able to paste the link here I will email it to you as it did give me some comfort and is inspiring me to take some of these actions when I can.

    I am looking forward to your new book 🙂 and to all your future writing. I think it brings a lot of joy.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Merci Juhi, I have just read it this is a great piece.
      Freaks me a bit out the part that we have to make governments ploy because well… they seem to be going in the wrong direction and that’s a big one.

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