My name is Tsholofelo Masela, the founder and writer for Intentionality.
I am interested in slow ethical fashion production and consumption.
My initial interest in this field was not a conscious one, I started buying second-hand clothes in 2014 when I was a first year student at Rhodes University. My reasons included affordability and necessity, moving away from wearing a school uniform every day to relying on my own clothes became a daunting task, so to increase my clothing pieces thrifting came as a saving grace. I quickly became known for my eccentric pairings of clothes; to some my clothing choices were brave and original and to some unladylike and dated, these contrasting ideas pushed me to find meaning in all this. Fast-forward to 2018, I began to understand that the way I dressed was something of a radical act against mass production and contemporary consumerist patterns because I refused to buy new clothes when I could re-use what was already there; I had unconsciously thrown myself into sustainable fashion. Necessity quickly turned into purpose and I became determined to teach on the reasons why we should consume less, know where our clothes came from and what production processes are involved in the apparels we consume.
Since the early 2000s natural resources have rapidly declined globally, due to mass production and ongoing climate change. This has forced businesses in the fashion industry to consider improving their procedures and strategies to sustain the environment and society at large. Sustainability became a recognized all-round solution for improving the demands of the new market, where success could only be achieved through the interaction of economic, social and environmental partnerships. These partnerships are the embodiment of the three pillars of sustainable business namely; people, planet and profit, used to assess sustainable corporate performance. The pillars work as checks and balances, ensuring that each section is performing its duties to the best of their abilities. This has forced sustainable fashion producers to consider sustainability not only as an environmental issue but a largely social one as well. Sustainable fashion manufacturing no longer only emphasises on natural production, recycling and repairing clothing; production ethics and material sources have also moved into focus to achieve a holistic focus on sustainability.
Our capitalist society focuses primarily on mass production and consumption to generate a profit. Consumers have, therefore, become alienated from production knowledge which is why they fail to engage with sustainability as a concept. Given the size and global reach of the fashion industry, its unsustainable production and distribution patterns can no longer go unrecognized because they will continue to rise. It is therefore, our responsibility as consumers to embody the three pillars of sustainability while supporting producers, designers and manufacturers who do their part and condemn those who refuse to change. Slow ethical fashion production is possible through awareness, education and global cooperation.