There are many who think he is a sort of failure, what with the mess he made of his marriage and all that sort of thing, but if anything, the heir who wasn’t to the British throne has got most things right. Especially when it comes to sustainability.
While the fashion world, and every student of fashion from Gandhinagar to New York is jumping on to the “sustainable fashion” bandwagon without quite knowing how to practice it, the Prince of Wales has made it a way of life. Wearing old clothes, patching them if necessary, because, to paraphrase him, they are good enough to be reworn if you have chosen them well. A demonstration of which is the fact that he recently shrugged himself into a 36-year-old morning coat to his son Harry’s wedding.
That’s what taste and style are all about. Choosing the classic over the trendy. Trends, despite the emphasis fashion schools place on trend spotting, are made by keen marketers aiming for quick sales. Trends come and go, they may not suit everybody, but in their whimsical temporary nature lies their very definite attraction.
Not just clothes, but in all aspects of our daily life, reuse is a mantra the world needs to adopt. We in India knew all about it, but it is a wisdom that has been pushed far back into unopened drawers of forgotten cupboards, while we chase the new and shiny and replaceable. Now everything we love is for a season, at most two, be it cars or phones, a dress or television sets. Building a statement of who one is by what one wears, carries or drives is a powerful opiate that blinds us to the fact that there are companies worldwide fattening their bank accounts thanks to our need to be counted among the successful and trendy.
While new-fangled stuff has some glitter, the old has memories. Old clothes, houses, buildings tell stories. They hold links to a personal past that is as precious as the future that one looks forward to, they help keep one grounded, filling the present with fragrant wisps of the years left behind. Holding on to the old, finding new ways to turn them useful is an adventure of its own, carrying the thrill of creation with the joy of owning something whispering of history.
So let’s wander through those old rooms of the habits we have abandoned, and open those creaking cupboard doors, pull out the wisdom of the past and find new ways to put it to use. So we learn once again not to waste. Instead, invest in the classic, the long lasting, the tried and tested, and tend it well enough to pass it on. Perhaps then, our future generations may thank us for saving them from the apocalypse of want.
Author & Consulting Editor, Penguin Random House