THE MOST SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY?
I grew up in the most sustainable society: in the late and post-USSR. There was not much good about the country that thankfully doesn’t exist anymore. But looking back, it is the most sustainable society I have ever lived in.
Making custom clothes back then was not exactly a privilege or what we call now a “slow fashion”. It was a necessity. I have only witnessed the post-collapse reality, but the traditions and the skills of the women in my family translated a very clear message: they had to be skilled if they wanted to have new clothes. Poverty and lack of absolutely anything in the shops was a drive for learning how to make clothes and little nick-nucks for the house like towels or bedding.
I heard stories from my mother how she would go through forbidden western magazines and pick up the latest fashion trends and then would try to recreate them. School uniform was made from scratch and then passed down the line and remade again until the fabric would become unwearable. And after that it would be cut into pieces and become a mop for the floor. And even then it would last for years.
I had this very cute burgundy velvet dress as a child. It was made from an old dress that my grandmother owned but became too old. Every single piece of clothing, bedding or even socks would find their way either in the new garment or in the household.
I still own a dress that was custom-made for my grandmother in the 60s, a pink wooden dress. It is in perfect condition. Sixty years later. Is it vintage or is it simply quality? Quality made by hand that lasts through the years.
I am ashamed to admit that I went through a long stage of buying A LOT of clothes and most of it would be from fast fashion. Now looking back I wish I could shake that twenty year old me and push her to continue those dress making experiments. But I can’t turn the time back and the only thing I can do is to admit that I am not perfect, but my family, that used to annoy me so much with their “saving everything for the later” actually was a very right thing. And right now I can look back and bring back those practices.