We live in an age where almost every part of the environment around us, our clothing, and our electronic devices are constantly lit up with advertisements.
We’re exposed to thousands of ads per day and the more we see ads, the more our subconscious accepts the information that is fed to us. In addition, popular media normalizes consumerism by suggesting that we are somehow abnormal or deficient if we don’t keep up with trends and buy more stuff.
Studies have shown that we’re exposed to numerous (some quote hundreds while others claim thousands) advertisements daily. Those are crazy numbers right? They most certainly are and they directly affect our lifestyle, eating habits and clothing choices. Now, this isn’t to say that all advertising is bad and uninformative, rather it points to the fact that many large fashion and clothing companies today create these ads specifically to persuade us to buy more ‘cool’ stuff without getting us to think deeply about where the clothes come from and the real processes behind the manufacturing of our fabrics. Ads shape our views of societal norms and social standards when it comes to making choices for what clothes to buy. Think about it, the more we see something advertised the more it conditions us to want what is shown to us, the more we believe that thing to be factual and ethical. Our buy-now-care-later culture doesn’t help matters either, and our constant needs and demands pushes corporations to find ways to meet those needs and persuade us further.
Okay, we know that advertising media has a very strong influence on buying habits, but what can we do about it to make more sustainable choices when it comes to buying clothes?
Well there are some positives, the growth of the internet and the rise of social media means that we’re not just passive observers anymore. Creators of ethical and sustainable clothing brands are emerging and building strong communities on digital platforms. This means that although they don’t possess the financial resources that the big players do, they’re still able to use digital media tools to advertise their product offerings to consumers.
Do we respond differently to advertising from the smaller players? While there’s no specific data to suggest that we do, there’s a sense of good judgement here which dictates that smaller players like emerging sustainable clothing brands, are more genuine with their advertisements and usually appeal to the moral side of the consumer without applying the social pressure to conform.