Can you dress up and save the planet?
Title of Alec Leach’s First Book do not force the words: The world is on fire but we still buy shoes. The book’s core question is equally direct. We know fashion is bad for the planet, so why do we still shop? Leach, a former fashion editor turned sustainability consultant, set out to see if he could find some answers. The result is an insightful and curious reflection on contemporary consumerism, cultural hype, and how the streetwear-obsessed fashion industry has fueled this frenzied drop-off. a frenzied drop that shows no sign of slowing down.
But Leach, who has spent almost 5 years on streetwear publication Feelings of horror, not here to point fingers at anyone for liking clothes. “We all deserve to wear beautiful things,” he told me from his office in Berlin. Shopping navigation and sustainability are not black and white, and Leach is the first to admit there is no silver bullet solution. “I don’t want to preach some commandment about shopping like I have all the answers,” he said. It’s refreshing to read someone writing about fashion’s global environmental crisis in a tone that, while still urgent, deepened their understanding of the emotional aspect of clothing.
Leach approaches things from the position of someone who understands all the good that fashion has to offer — the power of self-expression that fashion can bring. The book oscillates between a personal anecdote about his love for Our Legacyand then dive into a thorough analysis of how the “Made In” label is often a complete lie. (However, Leach always manages to give you some sugar with your pills.) He keeps coming back to the idea that the solution isn’t to shop secondhand or need a “sustainable” collection. that we as consumers need to change our relationship with the act of shopping.
Leach talked to GQ about changing his own relationship with fashion, the power of questioning every purchase, and how we should take a slower, more purposeful approach to the clothes we order. in her wardrobe.
When did you start rethinking and questioning your relationship with fashion and clothing?
The biggest thing for me is going to Paris Fashion Week every season and being able to see 10 collections a day with my own eyes. And then in my inbox, there are 10 or 20 other collections every day. You just get the feeling that fashion really never ends. That’s what really started to break me down after a while. Every season, you see hundreds and hundreds of new collections, and I just thought, well, what’s the point of all this, and where is all this going?
It’s really, really tiring just trying to keep up with everything. Try to keep up with how you will shop. I just got to a point where I started questioning what I got out of it. After I left my old job [at Highsnobiety] is when I really question my habits. I realized that my life was just really congested with so many things, and none of them really meant anything to me, even though they all seemed really important at the time. I just remember thinking that after chasing all the trends I had to go after, getting all the designers I was supposed to get, I just had a bunch of stuff in my closet that didn’t mean anything. What does it mean to me? I don’t think it suits me and I don’t really enjoy wearing any of it.