It’s official: ZERRIN is finally launching a podcast!
Made Better is a show navigating the complex impact of the things we create and consume—from clothing to cosmetics—and explores how we can all journey towards making better choices, for a healthier planet and perspective.
The journey to the Made Better podcast
What does it really mean to make products that respect people and the planet? And what could it look like to improve our connection with what we wear?
Back in 2016, these were questions that kept me up at night. Trying to answer them led me to founding ZERRIN in 2018.
Looking back, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the fashion industry. Like many young girls, I grew up internalising the images from advertising I saw in glossy magazines or on TV. They shaped how I viewed myself. I was forever not thin enough, not tall enough, not impossibly-bouncy-straight-haired enough, not <insert yet another unrealistic beauty standard here> enough.
While my passion for the creative side of fashion burned bright, the industry also extinguished my self-esteem. Eventually, this led to me developing body dysmorphic disorder and anorexia in my late teens. But illness and all, I was still addicted to fast fashion, spending whatever money I earned while working in retail on more and more stuff. ASOS was my addiction. I shopped through the boom of Boohoo. My closet contained enough to fill a small stock room. If I wasn’t buying, I was scrolling; endlessly browsing and adding to cart items I fantasised would make me feel more worthy. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but my relationship with fashion was severely impacting my mental health.
Decluttering mind and closet
It was building a career in fashion media that started to shift my thinking. While working as a magazine editor in Singapore in my mid-twenties, I became increasingly aware of how jaded I was by the typical narrative spun by mainstream brands and media. I longed to engage with and communicate about fashion in a more meaningful way; beyond the pretentiousness, fads and overpriced branded goods. I grew tired of feeling like an outsider; left out, unless I bought into it all.
Educating myself about the interconnected issues inherent in the industry—from labour inequalities to environmental pollution—was a big eye opener. I also learnt a lot about the impact of fashion’s complex supply chain through independent brands and their stories. This new knowledge made me confront my consumption habits and attempt to rethink them. Small steps, like unsubscribing from fast fashion newsletters, to larger actions like not buying anything new for months, gave me pause to reflect and reassess my shopping triggers and eventually ‘break up’ with them.
Slowing down consumption—a philosophy which lies at the heart of the sustainable fashion movement—was a vehicle for mindfulness in my life at a time where I was riddled with anxiety and depression. It helped me find peace, perhaps in the way yoga or meditation may do for someone else. It was this new mantra of less, but better, that felt so much more enriching. My life (and wardrobe) felt less cluttered. I no longer paid attention to trends and the scarcity marketing that the fast fashion industry thrives off. Above all, I felt more confident within myself and my body about who I was, what I valued and what mattered.
Fashion needs a new narrative
This was all well and good, but various conversations I had with industry folx or with friends around the globe gave me pause. I realised that most people hadn’t had the privilege of being exposed to the triggers that made me change my habits.
And that’s the the crux of it. My story isn’t an exclusive one. Most of us are still stuck in a cycle of fashion consumption that’s not just toxic for our planet, but also for our mental health. We’re made to want more, when we’d be better off with less. We’re made to expect rock bottom prices, when the true cost is so high. So many of us feel this way, yet choose not to articulate it because ‘it’s just the way it is’.
But what if it doesn’t have to be?
“Many of us are still stuck in a cycle of fashion consumption that’s not just toxic for our planet, but also for our mental health. We’re made to want more, when we’d be better off with less. We’re made to expect rock-bottom prices, when the true cost is so high.”
Changing the way we consume is going to involve a big cultural shift; that’s what makes it so challenging. Fashion has played a huge part in shaping our societal values, but so has the way we communicate about it. To create real transformation, all of us involved in creating media—brands, publicists, journalists, broadcasters, influencers—have the power to shape a different narrative around consumption for the next generation. With cultural change will come systemic change. Of course, we need legislators and governments to pull their weight; but that’s a post (or show!) for another day.
Helping you find your journey
That’s where the Made Better podcast fits in. This show is a natural evolution of the work we’ve been doing at ZERRIN all along; from connecting you with conscious independent brands and other fast fashion alternatives, to the content and events we put out to help inform and inspire.
Above all, we want this podcast to be a catalyst that triggers your own journey to redefine—maybe even help to heal—your own relationship with consumption. I can’t promise we’ll have all the solutions, but I hope these conversations, with designers, activists, influencers, academics and more, will uplift you, pique your curiosity and give you the confidence to seek out your own answers.
Here’s to creating and consuming more consciously.
Susannah and Team ZERRIN