The BoF Podcast | The World Is On Fire But We’re Still Buying Shoes

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For nearly five years, author Alec Leach worked as an editor at the streetwear website Highsnobiety, where he spent his “career telling people to buy stuff.” Leach saw up close the contribution his content was having on overconsumption and the lack of responsibility brands and consumers took for their own part on the climate crisis, both subjects he tackles in his book, “The World Is on Fire But We’re Still Buying Shoes.”

“I love working in the industry. I really, really do,” says Leach. “I think we just all need to accept that we’re part of this consumerist machine. And once you accept that, then the kind of potential for positive change becomes a clearer.”

This week on The BoF Podcast, Leach sits down with BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed to discuss how the fashion industry and consumers must change.

Key Insights:

  • During his time at Highsnobiety, Leach attended several events, including the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, focused on sustainability in the industry. But for all the discussion of supply chain and new technologies, he felt that there wasn’t enough talk about what he saw as the core issue. “No one’s really asking why we buy so many things,” he said. “It always comes down to overconsumption.”
  • In Leach’s book, he says shopping is part of a consumer’s identity because of the role it plays in self-expression. “It’s important to acknowledge that fashion is intimately connected to our sense of self. That makes shopping a pretty existential experience,” said Amed, quoting Leach’s book.
  • According to Leach, the supply chain is a “nonsensical system” that allows brands to take little accountability for their own manufacturing processes. “Brands aren’t really responsible for what happens in their supply chain, and they’re not really responsible for what happens to all these clothes when they’re no longer wearable,” said Leach.
  • Leach’s personal experiences in therapy over the course of years helped him dig deeper while writing his book. “That’s where a lot of the more psychological and philosophical elements of the book came out, it was about me being in therapy every day, every week and asking myself some very difficult questions afterwards,” he said.

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