Back when I was interning in Bombay, a friend mentioned his colleague buying a Zara shirt on the same day before coming to work. ‘What a reckless way to spend money,’ I thought to myself (2018 me and current me are different people, I was clearly more judgemental back then, or so I like to think).
This isn’t the only instance of wasteful fashion choices I’ve seen or heard of. A loved one once told me about friends of hers who would head to Select City Walk and buy an entire outfit for a party they had to go to an hour later.
Let’s assume the best here. Let’s assume for a second that in both the cases I’ve mentioned, the consumers bought items that they knew they would re-wear and repeat often. Even then, so many of us know people who impulse shop all the time.
What does this have to do with Suhana Khan’s latest comment? The celeb recently praised Alia Bhatt during a promotional event for her upcoming movie The Archies. She said ‘Alia Bhatt ne apna wedding saree National Award receive karte hue phir se pehna tha. I think as somebody with a platform, who has an influence, I thought that was incredible and a much-needed message. She took a stand towards sustainability and advocated for that. If Alia Bhatt can re-wear her wedding saree, then we can also repeat an outfit for a party, we don’t need to buy a new outfit.’
Well, maybe Ms Khan was talking to people who impulse shop for clothes and don’t know what to do with them later? Maybe her message wasn’t for people who are already conscious of their choices and moreover, have no other option but to repeat their outfits?
There are plenty of people who are still gravely unaware of the impact their shopping decisions can have on the employees who are working in sub-par conditions to produce the clothes they’re buying. Mostly, it’s a minimum wage job, the working conditions are unhygienic, the machines they’re working with are dangerous and the labor shifts are around 12-14 hours long. To be so careless because you have the purchasing power to indulge in shopping repetitively is incredibly irresponsible and insensitive.
While I understand how Suhana Khan’s privilege is showing here; She’s made such an obvious statement about lifestyle choices that are normal for many, I am not sure it’s fair to subject her to so much criticism. Because, when celebrities, public figures and influencers don’t use their platform to advocate for and uplift people, we call them self-absorbed and privileged. But even when they do use their platform to uplift others, we’re often just as critical and end up calling them tone-deaf.
Also, we should consider that Khan is probably all too familiar with people who may be just as privileged as her, and so she’s aware of how wasteful people with privilege can be. What is so wrong with the celeb using her influence to promote ethical practices?
Personally, I have witnessed people who’ve had the option and the finances to indulge in shopping be incredibly reckless and wasteful. And let’s not forget, that the cost of fashion is not only limited to the terrible working conditions in sweatshops, it also leads to clothes ending up in landfills and polluting the ocean.