How Festival Style Fuels Fast Fashion

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 year ago | Features

Image: Grace Slick at the original Woodstock in 1969. Image source.

It is officially festival season again and, with that, also comes festival style. By which I mean the social pressure to purchase a brand-new outfit for one single event. An outfit that you may never wear again outside the context of said festival. This is problematic because it plays into a dangerous culture of overconsumption – and thus perpetuates fast fashion. 

In order to understand how we got here, it’s important to first revisit the origins of festival fashion. Although preceded by certain major jazz festivals, the 1960s heavy hitters like Woodstock were really the genesis of festival style as we know it today. Which isn’t to say that people bought cheap clothing to watch Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin play back in 1969. But instead that the masses have been mimicking those early festival looks ever since.

This is an aesthetic that represents the freedom of the hippie movement – especially as it intersected with the sexual revolution. The copycat culture is of course understandable, given that these festivals represented the apex of pop culture as we know it today. But the problem with said mimicry is three-fold: firstly, the stylistic time warp does little to differentiate personal style in a landscape that is already very homogenised. Secondly, the festival look has cemented its status as yet another ‘trend,’ which means it perpetuates a culture of throwaway fashion. And finally, we are now far more aware of the dangers of cultural appropriation, which this trend seems to largely overlook.

Big fast fashion companies see all this as an opportunity, though. An opportunity to lure us into buying more cheap clothes that we don’t really need. Which is why festival season is as good a time as any to push back against those marketing ploys and reject the disposable fashion culture in favour of personal style. After all, this is a far more interesting way to stand out on the fields of Splendour, if you ask me.

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