There’s a couple of tv programmes that have caught my eye recently. They are the three part BBC documentary: ‘The Men Who Made Us Spend’ and Channel 4’s ‘This Old Thing’ with Dawn O’Porter [both still available on iplayer/4OD)
At first they may sound unrelated. One is a serious philosophical and historical investigation by Jacques Peretti into, basically, how we are manipulated into buying things. The other is a more lighthearted look at second-hand fashion (or that dreaded word vintage). But I think they also complement each other.
The first episode in Peretti’s documentary looks at ‘planned obsolesence’, where goods are designed so that they can’t be repaired, or we are made to desire a newer version. In one scene he interviews a man who has been queuing outside an Apple store for hours so that he can buy a new iphone 5 because it comes in a different colour.
Having written before about Fast Fashion I think that planned obsolesence is built into this industry too. We are marketed to so that we want new fashions every six weeks. In ‘This Old Thing’ Dawn O’Porter meets people who buy so many ‘fast’ clothes that a) they don’t wear it all and b) they keep seeing the same outfits on other people.
All participants baulk at the idea of even considering second-hand (sorry vintage) clothing as an alternative to the modern throw away fashion. However by the end of the programme Dawn has persuaded them to give it a try. There are some nice touches too such as a mending and upcycling workshop with advice from experts, and a brief summary of a fashion period.
I also like the clothes Dawn wears and believe this is a very personal quest for her too. I love her take on the fact that every item has a story to tell and there’s a very nice touch when she re-introduces an outfit once worn by an older member of the family to the participant. And, like any good ‘change your life’ programme there are some tears.
It has certainly inspired me to try some specialist vintage shops although my only criticism is the cost of the clothing. If we really want to persuade people to eschew Fast Fashion and try something second-hand then I believe the price tags should match those of some High Street stores. But that’s probably a post for another day….