This week on the agenda was the discussion of poverty and fashion. When I first saw this on the syllabus, I thought there was no way there was a connection between the two. We discussed things like waste, over production and over consumerism. These are all things I was aware of but had never really put much thought into. Something that stuck out to me in our first reading is that fashion implies change—and change is neither positive nor negative. A lot of times in our industry, people become consumed with the notion that they have to have the best products in order to be successful. I believe that our world is caught up in ingenuity. Companies use advertising to manipulate people into thinking that buying leads to success and happiness. I have fallen victim to this too many times, feeling as if I didn’t buy that pair of shoes everyone would notice the shoes I wore were old and beaten up. Out society is greedy and materialistic and there’s no denying that. I was taken aback when reading the line that says “we should be exploring design with humility and assume that whatever we design today will not be appropriate in the future”. If everyone used this philosophy, there would be so many more efficient methods of production because companies would want to conserve their resources for the future; placing as little burden on the planet as possible. I have said it before and I’ll say it again but the moment we realize that we are slowly killing our Earth is the moment a real change will occur. It takes more than a small percentage of the world—it will take a majority of the population putting forth effort to turn things around.
When it comes to poverty in developing countries, I feel so helpless for them. I know that nothing I do could pick them up like they need. But I know that being in this industry I can help implement changes to make sure their homes don’t become even more toxic than they already are because of us. I read a line that left me pondering the idea all day; it read “Voicelessness and powerlessness are key aspects of poverty”. For some reason this struck a cord with me and left me extremely curious as to how these people feel knowing there are people out there that could help, yet choose not to. Do they even understand the extravagance the developed countries consider normal? We have companies that send you a box of clothing for a hefty fee every month. They make sandals out of whatever they can find to keep their feet safe from the stones they walk on. We have an app where a random person will come pick you up from that party where you had a little too much to drink. They have an elephant to ride to go find fresh water to drink. We can have a foot-long sandwich delivered to us in a matter of minutes (thank you Jimmy Johns) while people in other countries hunt their own food and make it last for days on end.
The fact is we don’t understand how it feels to be without. Our country only knows the “more is more” way of life. Developing countries are in a state of being continually thankful for every drink of water they get or every substantial meal. If everything we had suddenly got taken away and you only had the things you took time to appreciate the day before, what would you be left with?