As the dust settles after this week’s riots, and the long, slow, clean up starts, it strikes me that there are parallels between the troubles in the global financial markets and those on the streets of London, Manchester and Birmingham. All came about because of a dawning realisation that there is simply not enough money to go round. The Eurozone needs more funds than currently available to bail out Greece and other peripheral nations. The US’s downgrade from triple A by S&P reflects its hard time in paying off its debts. And the looters on the streets of London are stealing a lifestyle from which they feel excluded. I can’t put the cause better than Russell Brand’s “glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity. That daily, hourly, incessantly enforces the egregious, deceitful message that you are what you wear, what you drive...” The whole blog is really worth a read.
It’s not just a question of money. The world doesn’t have enough resources to go round either, from food, to water, to ecosystem services. If every person on this planet lived like we do in the UK, we would need three earths to support our lifestyles. Our current lifestyles require us to burn carbon, and the impact of this on the atmosphere leads to volatility too. In fact, a recent report by Carbon Tracker showed that of all the assets capitalized on the stock exchange, 80% are technically ‘unburnable’ (i.e. unusable), if we're to stay within a 2 degree temperature change. If we go higher than 2 degrees, scientists agree we’re at risk of catastrophic climate change. So this means even less money to go round; yet more unrest.
So why on earth do I feel a glimmer of hope, when staring down the barrel of a loaded social, economic and environmental gun? Well, Swishing came about from a realisation that status can be driven by more than just shopping, that going to a party makes us feel good not guilty, and that we have so many beautiful ‘pre loved’ items in our wardrobes that are crying out to be shared. Recently I had a visit from Melissa O’Young, a PhD student from King’s College London, who came to interview me about why Futerra started Swishing. She’s been going to a lot of parties for the last few months, and talking to a lot of Swishettes. I owe her a massive debt of thanks – she really reconnected me with the thrill of Swishing parties; how women go to make friends, that they are there because the high street is stressful, and how we all get such a laugh from dressing up and trying on clothes.
And so I look around at where we are in the world. Futerra is expanding, just as the threat of a second dip looms. But this time, the volatility all around us makes me think, this is it. This is the time for change. I always love to quote that lesser known American comedienne, Brett Butler. She says, “I think we need a revolution, but I'm scared I won't be able to find good moisturizer after it happens”.
So let’s make a difference, and do it on our terms – get the lipstick and the high heels on, and let’s clean up. If you live in London, I can think of no better way of joining the party than to go to Swapaholic's Swish in aid of Riot Victims.
Viva la revolution.