Cultural Plus: Sustainable Fashion Thanks to “Hippies Counter-culture”

Here it is on cultural plus, a brief look at Sustainable Fashion.
Sustainable Fashion

Recently, there’s been a growing understanding among the fashion industry of the need to incorporate sustainability into modern fashion. In 2019, fashion became the second-largest polluter globally after the oil industry. This issue would be a major thing in the future.

Sustainable fashion has become mainstream, and the industry has made tremendous strides. Several organizations are working to educate consumers about the impact of fashion on the environment. Hopefully, all those engaged in this field will encourage them to make more conscious fashion choices.

In its journey, sustainable fashion is often considered outdated, a ‘fuddy-duddy’, and slightly stodgy. Despite the controversy, sustainable fashion has a long history. Hippie counterculture also contains an interesting story in it. Still, it has a way to go.

Here it is on cultural plus, a brief look at sustainable fashion, where we are now, and what is still needed.

Before we break down ‘How did hippies counter-culture contribute to sustainability fashion?’. It’s necessary to define ‘What is the sustainability fashion?’ in general.

Sustainable fashion directs to a movement in response to criticism from the public about the excessive increase in mass production, which causes air, soil, and water contamination.

“The industry of textiles & clothing value is over $1 trillion & ranked the second largest economic sector. This sector is becoming the causes of pollution, as well. Every year the textile & garment factories wastage and old clothes are producing maximum filth and polluting our air, soil & water”

International Journal of Textile and Fashion Technology (IJTFT)

Sustainability’ refers to the environmentally-friendly approach to manufacturing and consuming garments. The method ensures little to no harm to our planet. Using as few natural resources as possible. This excessive mass production is called ‘fast fashion’ or the opposite of ‘sustainable fashion’ itself. We generally call these fast fashion Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, and its kind.

The presence of fast fashion has a big enough impact on the current situation. However, it persists and keeps repeating itself nowadays. The word ‘fast fashion’ has become one of the enemies of the scene and environmental activists.

Sustainable Fashion: Thanks to ‘Hippies Counter-culture’
Hippies Counterculture (1962) —

The hippies also encouraged those who emerged when the anti-war movement empowered the emergence of the ‘hippies’ counter-culture. This anti-war movement became the forerunner of the early formation of sustainable fashion in the 1960s.

As a movement that began in the United States in the mid-1960s, it quickly spread worldwide. The subculture was the first to reject fast fashion, adopting a natural fabric-based stance, and turning against the fashion industry. Consumerist society began to collapse as hippies opted for second-hand, pre-loved garments and flowers to accessorize. It soon became an aesthetic that was impossible for the bourgeois industries to imitate with luxury materials and couture techniques.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

Runway looks were dropped out, and instead society tuned into ‘thrifted’ linen tops, vintage patched jeans, and freshly plucked daisies. What is more, American biologist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962 which intertwined the sustainable fashion movement with the environmental movement for the first time. The book tells us of the severity of widespread pollution associated with the manufacturing and use of agricultural chemicals present in the fast fashion industry.

Punk (1970) —

The movement against new fashions was first carried on by Punk in 1970, as a reaction to the idea of eternality established during the 1960s. Though hippies and Punk have refuted, both rejected the traditional fashion ideals. They were opting alternatively for unique second-hand pieces in the name of anti-fashion, urban youth street culture. Punk was predicated around the deconstruction of ‘thrifted’ garments. Transforming them into new, crude, and torn garments to attract attention.

In 1980, some people finally realized how terrible the ‘fast fashion’ industry is. Sustainable fashion was beginning to appear in celebrity icons at the face of the campaigns, and several charities used mass media to advocate the movement.

With the rise of sustainable fashion in the 80s era, the 90s became very important. Because of new ways of production and new ways of manufacturing, fashion has become more accessible and cheaper until now. This moment led to fast-fashion production.

Simultaneously, some brands brought about ecological fashion. It fell to the Esprit brand, which created the ‘Eco collection’, to bring awareness to the fashion world.

Indeed a good move anyway, but they will unconsciously create new problems. Like a ‘bribe’ in the fashion industry, these big ‘fast fashion’ brands flocked to issue ‘eco-fashion’ collections. They intend to prove that they also care about the environment, but this is irrelevant if they continue to issue collections other than eco-way fashion.

Sustainable fashion is no longer a trend but part of everyone’s life. “Green is the new black” became the slogan of the moment. Thanks to many organizations and brands as well as Covid-19, fast fashion and pollution have begun to reduce. However, we still have a long way to continue campaigning for these things.

Sustainable Fashion: Thanks to ‘Hippies Counter-culture’
Sustainable Fashion: Thanks to ‘Hippies Counter-culture’
Sustainable Fashion: Thanks to ‘Hippies Counter-culture’
Sustainable Fashion: Thanks to ‘Hippies Counter-culture’
Sustainable Fashion: Thanks to ‘Hippies Counter-culture’
Buru Studio & Ican Harem (2022) — Instagram

Today, we often encounter new modes that are also sustainable in its lifetime. Several artists from Indonesia have done it, Ican Harem and Buru Studio for instance, they are designers and niche brands that represent sustainable fashion by using the cut and sew method. We also can see the Everyday label collaborating with Melati Wijsen who uses eco-friendly fabrics, they still exist the trends and haven’t looked old signs. Not only that, many workshops advocating sustainable fashion movements seem to be starting to bloom among young people nowadays, apart from spreading awareness about the dangers of ‘fast fashion’, it appears that some fashion activists also desire to campaign for it as a new culture.

Cover Turntable & Recycled Chair by Space Available — Instagram

Fashion is also not only about the clothes you wear, furniture or utilities in aesthetically and beautifully packaged are also part of fashion. Anyways, Space Available is the most relevant brand to be a model at this time, apart from the fact that they use recycled goods (many of their goods use used plastic), this local brand from Bali continues to campaign for a culture of processing plastic waste massively and worldwide.

Peggy Gou, in collaborating Space Available makes a recycled chair — Instagram

Recently, they also released a collection of epic chairs in collaboration with our all-loving DJ, Peggy Gou. The chair is made from over 20kg of waste plastics, saved from landfills, rivers, and the ocean. A zero-waste design with the offcuts used to weld the chair together. The welding technique removes the need to use additional materials or adhesive, ensuring the chair is easily recycled if needed and in line with a circular design vision. Also, 20% of the profits from the chair are donated in a bid to plant 10,000 trees in the Sumatran rainforest. This becomes very easily accepted by the community. Not only campaigning for good things, the campaign’s output also creates other benefits.

It doesn’t take long, and we finally understand how dangerous ‘fashion’ is without ‘sustainable’. Like Punk of its time, hippie counterculture has become the main scourge, and we can still feel an essential moment in the history of sustainable fashion and its impact today. So, what do you think?

Further Reading:
  • Influence of 1960’s Hippie Counterculture in Contemporary Fashion  (Abdullah,, 2017)
  • The True Cost — (Film Documentaries by Michael Ross, 2015)
  • Silent Spring — (Rachel Carson, 1962)

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