now, not ever, not in 1950 when polyester, the subject of this story, was invented, not in the 70s when the fabric had its "moment" and definitely not today... In the early 1980s selling polyester clothes required a million dollar campaign in order to show "poly" as a miracle fibre and bring it back - otherwise nobody was interested in "plastic", even bacteria and mildew. It was the matter of taste, understanding that the cotton, linen and silk could never be replaced by a man-made fibre. Because petrochemicals-based polyester is simply vile and, as far as I am concerned, should be kept for the selected few, strictly for the purposes of artistic expression.
My affair with polyester was brief: long enough to put on a "plastic" dress and take it off within minutes to avoid the danger of suffocation. I realised that, just like the supermodels of the 90's, I'd rather go naked than voluntarily let that "fabric" touch my skin.
I see polyester as a fashion equivalent of a McDonalds milkshake - a ton of useless chemicals presented as something they aren't, just to give an illusion of being. I loathe both of them - neither are welcomed into my life, which I try to make simple and as natural as possible whether I am talking about cooking my own meals, collecting books, sticking with organic skincare, growing flowers or being with people I love. And while I do, indeed, treat myself to a dress or pair of shoes once in a blue moon, most of them are a part of the indefinite wish list and, thus, vintage or really-really special. None contain polyester. Because I simply believe that it is not healthy or pleasant and doesn't deserve to be a part of my little world.
Imagine my distress when an article recently published on Quarz suggested that we will soon be forced to wear plastic as the only available option. It sounded like a death sentence, practically the end of humanity.
And you know what is the most ironic thing about it? We have nobody else, but ourselves to blame. Polyester would not get where it did if there wasn't a demand for it. The demand created by fast fashions, people's insatiable need to shop, shop, shop, fill their wardrobes with cheap junk that has no value or quality, which, for me, always begins with the choice of fabric...
They say, it is rather difficult to see a difference between a dress made of silk and its polyester version. Perhaps it's true for some. But regardless of whether or not you can see the difference, you will always, always, be able to feel it.
They say, cotton needs more fields to be grown - and polyester doesn't. For me, it simply means that reducing the volume of non-biodigerable polyester clothes damped in one of those precious spots could literally create the land of possibilities.
And frankly, the only reason we need more cotton (and this is why it needs more fields and requires pesticides) is the fast fashion, the phenomenon that became worse over the last few years - shopping is now considered a leisure activity, a hobby, a trend, so the new purchases could be brought home, photographed, shared for numerous "hauls", hardly ever re-worn (wearing same outfit twice? how passe...) and, a month or two later, forgotten and thrown away.
Checking the labels? Understanding the fabrics? Worrying about the quality? Forget it! Who has time for that? Pass me that skirt and that dress and that "something pretty I don't know if I even want it"...
The situation gets even worse when the polyester moves from the high street to high end, creeping through designer collections like a great pretender... According to Mary McFadden "it looks fantastic... much better than silk that costs $105 a yard while polyester silk costs about $12 a yard." According to me, it feels like cheating, the way to undervalue the customer and, to be honest, the brand. I wonder if Mary ever wears polyester herself...
Do you really want to be a part of this fashion evolution? Wear the clothes made of recycled plastic bottles, junk and toxic fabrics that come with a "inflammable/keep away from fire" label? Because if you don't, the process can still be reversed. All it takes is mindfulness and respect - only buying the clothes that you truly love and will treasure for years, investing in a few quality items, thinking about the connecting between the garments, your body, skin and mind, the harmony - not dissonance. And if you see polyester on a label - leave it behind... it really is not worth your time and money.
Because just like in case with a McDonalds milk shake made of dozens of chemicals and not a trace of milk or fruit, wearing fake fabrics is not going to do you any good. It'll just make the life even more toxic - and I have a feeling we already have plenty of that on our plates to deal with.
Photo source: Victoria Sasonkina in All clear / W March 2013 (photography: Benjamin Lennox, styling: Patrick Mackie)