Dressing for the Climate Crisis: "Seasonless" Clothing

I recently stumbled upon Alyssa Hardy's piece, "Let’s Stop Pretending We Need New Clothes Every Season," where she makes the point that in order to make the fashion industry more ethical it must go seasonless.

While Hardy makes the point that the idea of fashion seasons simply contributes to overproduction and overconsumption (which I wholeheartedly agree with), I think we can go one step further. I believe that both due to and in order to mitigate the climate crisis this idea of seasonless clothing is worth exploring together.

Hardy's article got me thinking about an interview I did recently with Dharna Noor of Gizmodo. Noor wanted to discuss why Two Days Off emphasizes the use of natural fibers (a topic we wrote about in depth in this journal post). I told her natural fibers, when produced thoughtfully, can not only have the lightest impact on the environment, but also make more sense in a world with a changing climate. Let me explain.

First off, producing natural textiles and, when the time comes, disposing of the garments made from them can use less water, chemicals, and energy. Second, many consider natural textiles to be more comfortable to wear and allow your skin to breathe so the likelihood that you'll actually use and love them for longer is higher. They also biodegrade at the end of their usefulness, but what some don't know is that the technology to recycle natural textiles exists and is becoming more accessible.

But let's go back to the wearability of natural fibers. I often talk about linen in particular being "seasonless." It is often thought of as a summer textile, but linen actually has thermoregulation properties, meaning it both draws heat away from the body when it is warmer out and naturally insulates the body when it is cooler. 

This makes it an excellent textile for layering with other garments as well. It also makes garments made from linen and textiles with similar properties seasonless in themselves. You don't need to pack them away for half the year because they can do double duty.

Aside from versatility, having a wardrobe that can traverse many seasons can also support a world with more unpredictable and volatile weather. A world we are experiencing due to climate change.

The last climate benefit of seasonless clothing is that having a reliable wardrobe of pieces you love wearing makes life a bit easier. Anything that simplifies daily life and reduces stress in a climate changing world is a plus. Whether conscious of it or not, most of us suffer from some form of climate anxiety. It could be the sheer fear of the existential crisis or a direct climate-related impact or disaster. If we can shed one daily worry, what to wear, then that can leave space for some of the climate grief we carry.

To sum up, the fashion industry refers to seasons as the cycles in which collections are released. Traditionally there were two season a year, fall/winter and spring/summer. Fast fashion has accelerated that to fifty-two seasons a year in some cases, with many brands releasing new pieces every single week. Seasonless fashion is a necessity in the sense that we must slowdown consumption and production to address the climate crisis. But beyond that, seasonless may become an evermore necessary consequence of it.

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"We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we'll also have a lot more joy in living."

Thich Nhat Hanh