Do a fast fashion 'fast' with the Six Items Challenge. It's easier than you think.
People observe Lent in many different ways, but one of the most intriguing approaches I've heard of is the Six Items Challenge. Created by British organization Labour Behind the Label, which campaigns to improve conditions for garment workers, participants in the Six Items Challenge pledge to wear only six items of clothing for approximately six weeks, the full duration of Lent.
The purpose of the challenge is to help people realize that they need much less than they may think; that it's possible to make do, even thrive, with fewer belongings; and that there are surprisingly benefits to be had by paring down one's material possessions. Labour Behind the Label asks participants to fundraise to support its ongoing fight against fast fashion. From its website:
"Fast Fashion is a relatively new phenomenon where brands change their stock every 4 to 6 weeks to keep up with the very latest fashion trends at a price which makes the clothes cheap and disposable.
Fast Fashion is the drive to increase profits and get products into our high street shops faster and faster, to satisfy an insatiable desire for new trends; the drive to sell more, consume more, make more, waste more. This, however, has disastrous consequences for the people who make our clothes."
As New Zealand-based fashion journalist Frederique Gulcher describes the Six Items Challenge, "It is in effect a fashion fast against fast fashion." This is Gulcher's second year doing the challenge. Writing for Eco Warrier Princess, she describes a few of the lessons she learned from the first time:
"[The epiphany] I had, which is frequently echoed by other challenge participants is this: people forget you’re wearing the same clothes! That’s right. People forgot I was wearing the same clothes day after day, week after week because what we remember and notice about people has more to do with our emotions and attitude and less about external appearance."
She said the challenge was a "holiday from the daily 'what to wear' conundrum" and that she learned how to care better for her clothes:
"When clothes are worn every two days they wear out quickly, so you will learn to look after your fabrics incredibly well, ingraining a life-long useful habit. For example, I dabbed off stains to avoid having to wash and sewed up unravelling seams. I also learned about the benefits of organic cotton, and how it keeps shape, colour and doesn’t smell as much."
You may think it's impossible to live with only six items for six weeks, but the challenge is not as restrictive as it sounds. The six items do not include underwear, accessories, shoes, socks, pyjamas, fitness wear, and work or school uniforms. That being said, you should not just wear athletic gear for the entire six weeks and say you've completed the challenge. The point is to learn how much you can do with a handful of carefully chosen, versatile pieces.
While the challenge's official start date (Feb. 14) has now passed, there's no reason you couldn't put this on the calendar for next year or initiate your own minimalist, capsule wardrobe challenge right now. Join in the for the rest of March; there are exactly four weeks till Good Friday.