S05 Episode 258 | Aja Barber on how the *affordability* story is fueling a messed up narrative & why we need a culture shift


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In episode 258, Kestrel welcomes Aja Barber, a writer, stylist & consultant, to the show. Aja’s new book, Consumed - The Need For Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change & Consumerism is mandatory reading for anyone who wears clothes.

“We have to ask ourselves — on a planet where there is not endless resources, is this the attitude that we want to lead ourselves into the future on? If we are really approaching planetary limits, I think it’s actually time for us to maybe have some cultural shifts in how we view what is enough and what we should want out of life.” -Aja

In her new book, Aja writes: “Please stop referring to this system as affordable. The planet cannot afford the environmental costs, and neither can most of its inhabitants.”

This is something I noticed woven across several chapters – the idea of *affordability* and the nuanced detriment that this sentiment can have on the overall fashion conversation.

When we say affordability, who are we really thinking about? Probably primarily ourselves. What can I say, we do live in a very ME-oriented society.

Are we thinking about who made our clothes? Are we thinking about the impact those clothes had on the environment in which they were made? Probably not.

And while privilege is absolutely wound up into this – the idea that sustainable fashion must be *affordable* is just another way that we’re trying to cut and paste a better option into an already crappy system.

We can’t just replace fast fashion with sustainable fashion, and move on. We can’t expect that to remedy the absolute mess that we are living in.


Quotes & links from the conversation:

  • “What do we have to gain by being credited by all the things?” -Aja

  • “I don’t read one news site only — I read a lot of different news sites. And I just think — you know, when we silo ourselves, obviously, we’re missing out.” -Aja

  • “I think what people forget is that existing in a marginalized body and existing in a world that is ultimately a white supremacy that doesn’t like fat people, that doesn’t really care for Black people — there’s so many strikes against me. And when I am out there in the larger world, I have to deal with people who do not share my views on a lot of things, always. You can’t avoid that, and so people act like because you have boundaries on social media, that you just want to live in an echo chamber, while not realizing that people like me don’t actually get the right to ever live in an echo chamber. You don’t get to pick your coworkers, you don’t get to pick your family, and you don’t get to pick your classmates, but you do get to pick your friends and you get to pick your online spaces, so, I’m gonna make online spaces as boundaried as I possibly can, because for every other space that I exist in, I’m gonna run up against some stuff that quite frankly I’m tired of.” -Aja

  • “The one thing we all can do is SLOW DOWN.” -Aja

  • Order Aja’s book Consumed >

  • Follow Aja on Instagram >

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