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Fashion, spirituality and sustainability according to Gaia, Farah, Ella and Anisa
Fashion has always been a great tool for self-expression. Clothing plays a huge part in shaping our identity and through our fashion choices we always, consciously or not, communicate something. On this topic, Gaia from @ssustainably explored the connections between fashion, our inner selves and our spiritual path through the eyes of multiple writers.
Influenced by social and cultural norms, certain clothing standards have always existed, yet we can argue that now more than ever we’re free to wear whatever we like.
Despite this freedom, as most clothing is being mass-produced, we end up wearing the same dress at that party. Are we be losing our individuality? This is Gaia from @ssustainably_, asking 3 writers I esteem for their thoughts as well as sharing my own ideas on how we can use fashion as a tool for self-discovery and expression.
Fashion in tune with your inner self
Spirituality, the abstract quality of the soul, seems to have nothing in common with frivolous, materialistic fashion. Yet through our clothing choices, we’re able to manifest and portray our beliefs, ideas, and inner selves. Fashion is a powerful tool that allows us to exhibit our values, honor our heritage and shape how we present ourselves.
This all might seem very difficult to grasp in a world where fashion trends change in the blink of an eye and we’re constantly told what to like and whose style we should copy. Spirituality can guide our fashion choices once we’re in tune with our inner selves. As we learn to listen to ourselves we can make purchases that really resonate with us and that we truly love. If we’re content with who we are and find inner peace we’re not going to be easily persuaded to buy things we don’t need.
I’ve struggled with this concept for a while as I often bought things impulsively when I felt weak emotionally and convinced myself that buying things would fill that ‘emptiness’ I felt inside. Needless to say, it didn’t, it just left me wanting more. Spirituality, or the practice of connecting with inner selves, might be possible through religious faith for some, for others through meditation or other even sports, etc.
The principle of interconnectedness according to Farah Liz Pallaro
Spirituality is deeply personal. In order to understand the meaning of this word and its relationship to fashion, I asked a few people in the industry to share their views on it.
Firstly Farah Liz Pallaro, a mentor, educator, and author of ‘Fashion, Business, Spirituality’. pointed out that spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. For some this is found by worshipping a divinity, for others spirituality is within us. Pallaro believes that we can only achieve a sustainable way of living by being interconnected with all there is: connection with ourselves, the source of life (whatever you believe it is) and other living organisms. When this principle of interconnectedness is understood, a harmonious way of living is the result – which is key to achieve sustainability.
Sustainability as a result of life’s mystery and connections
Ella Magana Mireles, Latina sustainable fashion blogger and writer, told me that spirituality provides an inkling towards the mystery of life, it resembles a feeling or an instinctual art form that allows us to see beyond ourselves and our conscious thoughts towards love and compassion for others which strengthens values like sustainability.
I also asked Anisa Tavangar, a Baha’i writer and curator, who affirmed that Spirituality is all about connection. It’s about establishing relationships between entities that feel distant from one another— between the inner self and material world, between past and future, between the immediate and the eternal, between her local community and humanity as a whole.
For Anisa, personal spirituality can be used to be of service to others. On a day-to-day level, she approaches work through a spirit of service, considering justice, compassion, generosity, and intention in all her decisions, remembering that she’s a small piece of something much bigger.
Balance and contentment in fashion
It’s hard to link these values to fashion, material, and consumption-based industry, and it’s difficult to see how clothing could help us embrace these ideas, but I would argue that it’s a perfect way to connect with our inner selves and embrace our cultural values.
As Anisa Tavangar says, Spirituality, while being a catalyst for unity, rejects uniformity. Fashion should embrace that by creating room for different aesthetics, expressions, and versions of ourselves. We should be encouraged to practice balance and be content with owning what we need instead of living in competition with others for the latest trends. Now that trend cycles are speeding up and it takes 30 seconds to buy something online, buying more and more often is not only easier, but it can almost feel obligatory.
Instead, Anisa Tavangar suggests a culture of contentment that encourages conscious decision-making. For Mireles fashion should be seen as an art form versus a tool for social status. In order to do that, the race to the bottom has to stop and as Pallaro said, We should focus on creating products and services that have in consideration human well-being and nature first and then profit. By doing so, Exploitation of garment workers would cease, colonial patriarchal standards would be abolished, people’s power would rule and the Earth would bloom as Mireles beautifully put it. By being in tune with our spiritual selves, we can become more conscious beings and recognize our impacts on others and on Earth.
Redefining fashion and beauty
Fashion is intrinsically linked to beauty, often portrayed as something vain and superficial. Indeed fashion is very material and utilitarian, but it can also be more than that. There are ways to change our approach to everyday objects away from a consumerist perspective towards a more spiritual understanding of what we wear, considering where it comes from, who made it and its real value, beyond the price.
Anisa Tavangar points out: “when we’re taught to chase a form of beauty that is purely material, our soul is never satisfied, especially when beauty is communicated as something self-centered. Beauty is a soul-level quality that stirs admiration and appreciation, that invites participation and curiosity, that inspires dialogue and collaboration.”
The fashion and beauty industry has bred unrealistic standards of beauty and as Magana tells me, “it’s almost like we have to look a certain way to be worthy of love and we feel like we have to buy things to feel beautiful hence people live in constant competition, fear, dissatisfaction and sadness instead of embracing love, peace, and acceptance. We put so much effort into our exterior appearance when it can be argued that beauty is the quality of the heart and the mind and every human is beautiful no matter their physical appearance”.
I’d like to say that we should reconsider why we want to look a certain way and where negative thoughts around our body image come from. This self-reflection could help heal negative vibes and thus empower ourselves to find contentment and satisfaction within us.
Slowing down, looking inward, and finding a balance within ourselves can help us make better shopping decisions. This way we can also become happier individuals who prioritize inner peace before exterior appearance. As we realize that we have all we need inside of us, we can look at material things with a critical eye and only allow in our life the things that bring us joy.
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