Sustainable influencer Masego Morgan was shocked when the fast fashion giant offered $1,000 for one post on social media to promote its brand.
Not only has the South African social media star never been offered that kind of money, but the company represents exactly what she is up against.
And she’s not alone. Former ‘Love Island’ contestant and sustainable fashion influencer Brett Staniland said he was offered nearly $5,500 (€5,076) for a post on major Fast Her Fashion Her Brand.
Content creators like Morgan and Staniland are promoting sustainable fashion online. Well-funded fast fashion companies are flooding Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube with sponsored posts to encourage viewers to buy more, but mostly at the planet’s expense. It is
This growing army of influencers seeks to expose the environmental destruction caused by fashion giants such as Shein, H&M and Zara.
It also encourages climate-conscious fashion choices, which Morgan calls “mindful consumption.”
“[Fast fashion]shouldn’t necessarily compete the way they do…their models are already unsustainable,” Morgan said, more than once.
– “Mending is revolutionary” –
Morgan started borrowing vintage clothes from her stylish Japanese mother. Her mother told her, “Her repairs are a revolutionary act,” and encouraged her to repair instead of buying her new clothes.
The 26-year-old, who posts much of her content from her Cape Town kitchen, said she was trying to hold companies accountable for their choices rather than make them feel guilty.
Influencers like her are “change agents,” said Simone Cipriani, chair of the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion and founder of the Ethical Fashion Initiative.
“They counteract another kind of negative effect that we see on social media: overconsumption.”
Social media has become very important for fashion brands that can reach millions through influencers who show off their clothes, such as in #outfitoftheday posts.
Mainstream influencers in the West can easily earn six-figure annual profits through sponsored content and affiliate links. And the more followers you have, the more you can charge your brand.
Social media has helped boost fashion sales, and global consumption of clothing, footwear and accessories has doubled since 2000, according to the Hot or Cool Institute think tank.
But it comes at a big price for the planet. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), the clothing industry accounted for an estimated 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, about the same as the aviation industry.
Those emissions could increase by 55% by the end of the decade, he added. As outlined in the Paris Agreement, limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require a 45% drop in temperature.
To curb global warming, high-income countries need to reduce the environmental impact of fashion production and consumption by 60%, according to a Hot or Cool report.
As well as decarbonizing the fashion industry, their advice is to buy up to five new items a year and wear your clothes longer.
– “against it” –
At the heart of Venetia La Manna’s content is exposing the negative effects of fast fashion companies.
The 33-year-old influencer has amassed a huge following online and has been on TikTok and Instagram for her “recipe for disaster” series on the social and environmental damage caused by companies like Adidas, Amazon and Nike. The view has been played about 6.5 million times.
She earns a decent living and works for reselling sites such as Vestiaire Collective, eBay and Depop. But competing with fast fashion-backed influencers isn’t always easy.
“We are against it on the money and power front,” she told AFP from London.
“In the last five years, I really feel that this issue is on the map. Previously, plastic and food were the main focal points of our environmental conversation, but now fashion is really on the agenda. I will,” said La Manna.
The used apparel market is booming and is expected to reach $218 billion by 2026 from $96 billion in 2021.
‘Love Island’ star Staniland is hopeful that sustainable businesses will continue to thrive on social media.
And he has some wins. The 29-year-old was instrumental in switching show sponsorship from fast-fashion companies to his eBay.
But for now, it can be an uphill battle. Like most sustainable influencers, Staniland has to rely on multiple streams of income.
After turning down $5,550 from the fast-fashion giant, he went to work with ONE Essentials, an underwear brand he believes in, but needs a model to pay the bills.