Inspired by Phoebe Parke’s Grazia article (one of my contemporary writing inspirations), I’ve decided to abstain from shopping this year. I kept this quiet over the January period as this is when most resolutions fail. Now that we’re well into the new year, and I’ve still not bought a single item of clothing, I’ve decided to share a bit more about the reasons why I’ve made this decision, and how I’m kicking my shopping habits.
Disclaimer time: I don’t shop a huge amount anyway – the odd piece every now and then for friends’ birthdays or weddings. I’m normally a serial sales shopper, rather than making purchases over the year. Unfortunately for me, there seems to always be a sale on this year…
It might be a bit short-sighted of me, but I’ve basically decided to quite shopping cold-turkey. No planning, no forethought, no regrets.
Fast Fashion is killing our planet
We all know that climate change is a thing. We also all know that it’s a bad thing that we need to reverse. Unfortunately, the consensus in the scientific community says that we’re past the point of no return and all we can do is slow down the inevitable demise of the human race. Stacy Dooley did an investigation into the effects of fast-fashion and, to be honest, I’ve never looked at my clothes in quite the same way. We all know that cheaper brands are even larger, more expensive, brands are culprits, by sourcing the cheapest labour, in countries with almost no environmental regulations to follow, they’re destroying local water sources and barely even compensating the workers. I’m not trying to call out particular brands here, as so many are guilty of poor standards, but we, the consumer, need to recognise this is happening and then take a stand against it.
Thinking of the environmental cost behind a single t-shirt or new skirt has really helped me put the urge to shop into context. Sure, I might want that skirt to wear out, but do I really need it? Probably not. And do I want another river in Indonesia to be polluted so that this store can make more of the same skirt for other people? Definitely not. Someone else can have the skirt, I’ll wear something else from my already vast collection of clothes.
Clothes are not for consumption
Once upon a time, clothes were made-to-measure and made to last. Now, they’re mass-produced and fall apart after 6-months of wear. And why? So that we go out and buy more clothes. So that we consume more. And what happened to the old stuff? The stuff you didn’t fix and threw away, or perhaps donated to charity? Nothing. You see, it’s not a cycle. It’s a mountain. Clothes get made, bought, thrown out and replaced. Every item you throw out falls onto the pile of things you threw out before. The number of clothes in the world just grows, no recycling, just consuming. It’s not sustainable and in an effort to reduce our own carbon footprints, we should all be looking at ways to reduce how much clothing we consume. Bring back made-to-measure outfits!
At the risk of sounding very Marie Kondo, rooting through my current wardrobe has helped me rediscover pieces that, yes, “spark joy”. Items of clothing from 2 years ago might not be “on-trend” but who needs to follow fashion? Embrace your own style, feel confident. And remember that it’ll be back in style in the next 5 years.
Think of the savings
My goal is to own a house by the time I turn 25. Now, there are some pretty fundamental changes that need to be made to the UK housing market, but in the meantime, I’m trying to save where I can. As a nation, Britons spend around £52 billion on the fashion industry, and this is continuing to rise.
If I buy no clothes over the course of the year, that’s just extra money to put towards a place of my own. The best way to quantify this would have been to see how much I spent on clothes last year and compare that to savings I have this year, but that takes a lot more foresight than I had on January 1st so, just trust that I’m saving a decent amount of money, now that I’m not shopping. Or I’m spending more on the pub, but that’s neither here nor there.
There is one, and only one, exception I’m making for this no-shopping experience. As a young British Asian woman, my friends and cousins are getting married. That means 4-day weddings all year round. So, during my trip to India, I bought some fabric and had outfits stitched and dyed. However, I don’t count this as fast fashion as there is a lot less waste by getting clothes made specifically for you, entirely from scratch.
Unfortunately, there is a big culture in South Asian fashion of wearing an outfit once, and never again, as the whole world (pretty much) will have seen it. This is something I am being more conscious of, and with the help of The Jasmine Exchange, I can continue the cycle of clothes being re-worn, pre-loved and passed on. Sign up to their waiting list to find out more!
You can follow my journey more on Instagram, where I’ll be posting different outfits; re-worn and mixed-and-matched outfits, to give you some inspiration. Of course, these are made up of pieces I already own, and are customisable to fit with pieces you already own – just a few different ways to keep the same outfits looking and feeling fresh.