September | Take 5
With Aja Barber
The writer, campaigner and personal stylist on her lightbulb momentsEmma Sells
Aja Barber is not your average influencer. With none of the usual big-brand affiliations – all the better to have the freedom to hold them account – the writer, campaigner and personal stylist uses her platform to encourage the rest of us to stop spending our money on clothes we don’t need. A vocal critic of fast-fashion and all the societal systems that support it, Barber want us to apply some much-needed critical thinking to the way we interact with the fashion’s biggest players, to really consider what makes us want to consume so much in the first place and the vast environmental and human cost of the incredible volume of clothes that get created each day. She’s brilliantly uncompromising and unflinchingly honest when it comes to calling out greenwashing, exploitation and racism in the industry. And now she’s written a book to encourage the rest of us to follow suit.
There was a time when Barber was an avid fast-fashion shopper. She stopped when she had not one but two lightbulb moments: the first, when she added up just how much money she was spending in one store and was enraged when she realised it was 10% of her annual salary. The second came when she volunteered in a charity shop and was confronted by the never-ending mountains of clothes that were being discarded every single day. Consumed is about how she transformed her approach to both her wardrobe and the fashion industry, educating herself and setting out to enlighten others about the radical global change that needs to happen and the action that every individual can take. She’s determined to make us realise that there’s no point in waiting for brands to do things differently or to regulate themselves; that the only way to challenge them to do better is to switch allegiance to slow, ethical, sustainable labels. And that the time for action is now.
Consumed: The need for collective change; colonialism, climate change & consumerism available from Waterstones.com