In 2022, fashion critique is all about sustainability. Across the board, discourse has shifted beyond merely an analysis of brands’ products and into the ethics of their manufacturing practices. Yet attitudes swiftly change from person to person and brand to brand. On one hand, people discourage shopping fast fashion; on the other, e-commerce and fashion hauls promote continued consumption. This tension becomes most evident in the response to model Gigi Hadid’s new cashmere line: Guest in Residence.
Admittedly, a celebrity-launched cashmere line sounds like something to avoid. Tack on a $295 price tag for one sweater, and one might even mute the words “Gigi Hadid” and “cashmere” on Twitter. However, from the price tag to the sourcing of the materials, the fashion line insists that it is deeply rooted in sustainable practices. So, why does it make our eyes roll?
There’s a lot more nuance to fashion consumption than is seemingly visible at the surface level. But, within the framework of social media, fashion critique is the socially accepted avenue for occasionally being a hater. Immediately, individuals are quick to question the price tag, the name behind the brand and who it is made for. But, is it always that deep? Or are people simply looking for any chance to pounce just for the sake of it?
On the Guest in Residence website, Hadid claims the cashmere is created from recycled materials that will not fall apart a few years down the line. It promotes hand washing the garment, a cleaning method that conserves more water in comparison to washing with a machine or at the dry cleaners. To explain the price, Gigi herself told Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show, “I don’t need people to buy 10 sweaters a year. But I want to encourage thinking about what you’re consuming.”
It’s easy to pick apart Hadid — she’s a wealthy, conventionally attractive white woman who is now boasting a business venture that some would call ingenuine and inaccessible to the average consumer. Yet, if one gets down to the product itself and what Hadid is trying to promote, Guest in Residence may be a push in the right direction.
It’s unrealistic to expect a world of people to buy clothing with sustainability in mind. A $300 sweater is truly inaccessible to many, and fast fashion retailers are incredibly convenient to those shopping at lower price points and in a pinch to find decent quality clothing for everyday wear. Surely, $300 will get one further at stores such as Zara, H&M and Abercrombie & Fitch. However, Hadid promoting a less-is-more mentality when it comes to the consumption of clothing is incredibly important.
At its core, fashion has always been a luxury. Historically, only the wealthy could afford to worry about their clothing, which still rings true today. Yet, in an attempt to emulate this luxury, the average shopper is constantly compelled to spend and consume more than they need. Hadid is right: No one needs ten cashmere sweaters in their closet. Frankly, no one needs as much clothing as they are likely to have in our closet.
In a constant trend cycle of evolving styles, people begin to feel out of touch if they can’t keep up. Clothing is a method of communication, and personal style is a way to successfully express oneself properly. It makes sense that people feel inadequate in their style if they are not fully up-to-date on the latest trends.
Sustainability comes down to controlling consumerism. In offering simplicity, Hadid’s Guest in Residence attempts to address this. A plain black sweater will never go out of style, especially if it lasts forever and can be worn in dozens of different ways.
Perhaps not everyone can put down the hefty price for the sweater, and the need for accessible price points is an issue that persists in sustainable fashion. Nevertheless, Hadid’s efforts still spark important questions about where consumers’ paychecks go and the humanitarian implications of fast fashion. Often, the products we wear are harmful to the environment and ourselves.
Not everyone has the means to think and plan their fashion with sustainability as their first priority. But, for those who do have that luxury, it is important to start practicing mindful consumption. Critics have been too quick to judge Guest in Residence. Instead, they should focus on how the brand allows individuals to cultivate a strong sense of style while maintaining a commitment to sustainability.