Andra Bria is a writer, digital product designer and founder.
In the modern aspiration economy, everything is done with intention- from what you wash your clothes with, to what you cook, to how you treat your skin.
A healthier skin is nothing without a healthier mind, so they go hand in hand in the marketing funnel.
Storing your food effectively to save time means zero if it doesn’t reduce waste guilt.
We learn from carefully crafted Instagram accounts that beautiful things take time, that if you cannot do great things, you can do small ones in a great way. We’re prompted to be here, now.
We’re told there’s beauty in the simplicity. And to go back to basics. Fashionable basics.
There is a clean cult that invites you to be part of it. Beauty is plant based, always.
There are hand painted concrete pots that come with concrete workshops.
Home decor is not just objects, but designer wellness. The new fashion addicts are eco-stylists.
Do consume more, but in a mindful, greener way, appears to be the new brand ethos.
But how much of the marketing discourse is sustained by a truly ecological product?
Fair labor garments, cosmetics produced without animal testing, and products made through the use of sustainable technologies?
We must learn to ask: where does this product come from? How far it has traveled? Who made it? Under which conditions? What are the materials that it is made from? How were they sourced? And last, but not least: Do I really need it? How often will I consume it? Can I shift from ownership to usership? Can I co-use it, together with other folks?
Because a lot of the stuff we consume is necessary, but rarely used.
Sharing a single piece of equipment among ten households means cutting demand for that product by a factor of ten, while saving people time and money in the process.
Last year, the clothing brand Asket decided to paint to a 110msq wall, on one of Stockholm’s busiest shopping streets, to reveal the message: FUCK FAST FASHION. On their website, the manifesto stands to reinforce once again their pursuit: “If we all stop and think, it’s pretty clear that the only real solution is to reduce production, resist over-consumption and opt for fewer, better-made and longer lasting items.”
They are also showing in full transparency the cost of making the garment, how far they’ve traced the origin of garment, and the CO2 impact of the creation of that garment.
How can we make “buying less” cool? How can brands capitalize on restraint as the new aspiration?
Here’s one idea: brands can transition from products to services, promoting collaborative, sharing practices.
Car or bike sharing is one example, sustainable fashion through borrowing, lending or swapping is another: Nuw, a UK based brand encourages you to “have an open relationship with your wardrobe”, by sharing your items through an online app.
Worn Wear is Patagonia’s programme where customers can get a discount on new pieces by trading in their old gear, which the brand will then repair and restore, before selling it on via a special online store.
Or brands can simply innovate to produce long-lasting, modular, upgradable products, and offer repairing services.
The right to repair movement is gaining ground. The goal of right-to-repair rules, advocates say, is to require companies to make their parts, tools and information available to consumers and repair shops in order to keep devices from ending up in the scrap heap.
High-income nations consume on average 28 tons of material stuff per person per year.
We need to slow down.
The climate emergency and global pandemic have created new sources of desirability for brands, who can propose messages that build community and affirm intrinsic values, of solidarity, collaboration and gratitude for the products and experiences consumers already have.
There has never been a better time to direct brands’ transformation toward greater sustainability, more transparent practices and governance, and more socially responsible operations.