Victor Perez, a professor in the Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, is no stranger to incorporating real life examples into his Honors Introduction to Sociology lesson plan. Last semester, he had his students purchase clothing from Alta Gracia as a way to embody an intervention into the exploitation and global poverty that drives much of the fast fashion industry. This semester, Dr. Perez brought in student-run business, And Again, to continue the discussion of the globalization of fast fashion in his classroom.
And Again specializes in “upcycling,” where they take used clothing and repurpose it into highly specialized fashion items, predominantly denim jeans, selling them at a higher cost to consumers who want to spend their money on unique remade fashion designs.
The company’s work and mission fit right into Dr. Perez’s lesson on clothing poverty. Dr. Perez brought in two representatives from the company, Morgan Young and Gregory Harder, to discuss their business and conduct a raffle where three students from the class received their very own pair of upcycled jeans.
By bringing real examples of people combating the negative effects of globalized fast fashion, Dr. Perez showed his students they can make small changes in their lives to have a positive impact in the world.
According to Dr. Perez, the global used clothing industry can be a destructive force on local economies in places like Zambia and Uganda because the areas are flooded with used clothing that’s cheaper to buy than clothing made by locals. “And Again’s model is a form of intervention into the used clothing system that many folks don’t think about.” he said. “Most of what people wear gets thrown away and what little is donated is recycled or sold abroad.” Since the focus this semester is on both the new and used global clothing industries, And Again was a great fit showing how they two systems are related to each other.