Buyerarchy of needs, and why I disagree with it…

Back by popular demand…

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present a little bit of my knowledge and passion to a packed audience of more than 200 wonderful women at Queenstown’s Inaugural Women’s Summit, organised by Sustainable Queenstown.

In my Pecha Kucha about sustainable and ethical fashion, there was a diagram that seemed to resonate with audience members, and so I thought I might revisit it in my blog. Here it is – Sarah Lazarovic’s nifty pyramid – the buyerarchy of needs, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 8.32.32 PM

Cool, isn’t it?

Lazarovic is an illustrator, writer, irony-recogniser, call-it-what-it-is type, and general awesome creative. She also lives minimally, and for a year instead of buying what she wanted she painted what she wanted, and then published the visual essays. I admire that.

But I disagree with Sarah. In the pyramid in my head the first three are fine, but then I stop. When we buy pre-loved clothing that hasn’t been ethically made, we might consume less and re-use more, but at the same time we are supporting a fast fashion industry that pollutes, employs children, doesn’t pay fair wages, and so on and so forth (see a blog about that here). By buying a second-hand label that rates poorly for ethics and environmental sustainability, we’re supporting them and their branding. We might lower our own carbon footprint, but not the global footprint.

In my pyramid, I prioritise buying and supporting sustainable and ethical fashion labels. If you can buy these second-hand we’ve got a Yahtzee!

I don’t have the tools to create something fancy… So here is my rudimentary diagram descending from best to least. In all honesty though I operate at purple/no.1, 2 and no.5 and at a push no.6 the yellow block – 100 wears.

My fashion consumption pyramid

Love what you have first!!

To me, it’s absolutely important that ethical and sustainable brands, labels, marketplaces feature strongly in your consumption pyramid. It’s a more global humanitarian approach and sends a clear message that ethical and sustainable comes first, even over fast fashion seconds – yes, that’s right, we don’t even want your fast fashion seconds!! Boom!

Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah.

And thanks to Sustainable Queenstown for the opportunity to share.

2 thoughts on “Buyerarchy of needs, and why I disagree with it…

  1. Leah says:

    Just because I value the quality of ethical and high end goods, I’ll almost always thrift those things first. But I feel that I need to allow space for encouraging thrifting any and all goods because those goods still exist out there and if they aren’t sold, they will most certainly end up in the landfill. I manage a thrift shop and we have to re-donate like 50% off clothing we get in because it wasn’t made well, but the fast fashion that holds up is worthy of a buy, I think. I also think about the fact that the workers who made these clothes have already been devalued once through the first purchase. To disregard their work again on the secondhand market is to further devalue them.

    The secondhand market is its own animal, and at least at the community charity shop level, there are no metrics on what brands are popular, which means that buying secondhand can’t have any real effect on demand for new goods. There’s simply no data that would encourage the parent company to continue to produce.


    • mygoodemporium says:

      Hi Leah
      Thank you so much for your comment, especially coming from a thrift store owner. I hadn’t thought about the value and revalue element recognising workers. Food for thought.
      I’m about to MC a local pre-loved fashion show at our annual Eco Fair and I’m delighted to read this because I’d love to add this to my notes. It’s not only about being part of the reduce, re-use cycle and mitigating landfill but about respecting workers skills too. Thanks 😊
      PS Love Stylewise!


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