I have a pair of suit trousers that were part of one of my first work outfits when I got my first office job in London. That was 18 years ago. I was still wearing them regularly until 8 years ago. If the occasion suits I still wear them, though I’m more of a converse wearing jersey knit girl these days.
If, like me, buying on the high street weighs on your conscience, you will have considered how you can stop contributing to the fast fashion problem. How do you stop undermining your own country’s manufacturing abilities? How do you stop adding to the horrific conditions people are forced to work in so that you can get your fashion fix. The answer could be the capsule wardrobe.
I set up my business as a response to fast fashion and the intensive third world labour trade of imported fashion that continues to undermine UK industry. Not everyone wants to shop cheap and by the bag. Many people still value quality over quantity and invest in better garments and enjoy a smaller diverse wardrobe that ticks all the boxes.
If you have money to throw at Primark every Saturday afternoon you can afford to invest in a better wardrobe and shop less. It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it. Pick your key pieces. Buy better quality. Check the labels to see where the garments came from. Or find an independent designer to make items specifically for you. Learn to accessorise. Invest in clothing that is going to last you the season, or 6 months, or a year. Or however long you want it to last.
Learn to respect and love what you wear. Make this your challenge.
I’d like to ask you a question. When was the last time you bought clothes? Where did you buy them? Do you still wear what you bought?
Because I am an awesome accountant on a tiny budget who really hates clothes shopping, I can tell you everything about my textile shopping habits in 2015. In summary:
- 2 trips to New Look
- 1 trip to Primark
- 2 trips to COW (f you’re in Manchester you’ll know about this fab vintage shop)
- 2 trips to TKMaxx
- 1 trip to Brantano for winter boots
- 3 trips to H&M
- 1 trip to M&S – their underwear is better
- 1 trip to F&F at Tesco – on recommendation
Total cost – £404.93. That’s just over one trip per month at an average cost of £31.14 per spree. That’s more than I thought it would be. Thankfully I will wear these pieces until they fall apart. Sadly some of them already have. You can probably guess which stores they came from.
I am a picky shopper. I only buy what I get a gut feeling for because I know what works on me. I am a retailers worst nightmare. There are some things I really want but I will probably never find. So I make my own. I also do running repairs. You might not have the skills to do this, but there are plenty of people out there who do and if you’re looking towards improving your wardrobe, investing in things made especially for you has many advantages.
The problem with the fashion industry is that it changes so often. If you went into Primark every month you would not see the same key pieces twice. Fashion used to be seasonal and for the big couture houses it still is. But high street brands which exist because they are cheap with mass turnaround prey on our desperation for more and more cheap tat and have turned seasonal into monthly and even weekly fashion trends. Hear me now. You do not need this.
You can buy your staple pieces cheap, look after them, repair them. When I say cheap, don’t go any lower than New Look. Primark and H&M are banned.
You can buy more expensive pieces. You will probably buy less but everything will look better and last considerably longer.
You can get someone to make your garments. You’ll get perfectly fitted clothes and it may not work out as expensive as you think.
Or you can mix it up and do all three. You might choose to have someone make that key evening dress you need. You might buy expensive for your winter coat and knitwear. You might buy cheap for your basics like tees and leggings.
The thing is, where fashion is concerned, we all need to stop being so self centered, greedy and wasteful and start treating fashion and our paychecks with respect. Dress nicely, uniquely and stop looking like the rest of the herd.
Clothes are made by human beings, many of them living and working in horrible conditions for shamefully small wages. Every time you throw away something you impulse bought what does that say about your attitude to what they went through? Even if you have to buy from these chain shops, you can still select carefully and wear them well and often.
The problem with buying fast fashion is that you are part of the problem. Watch John Oliver’s video again. If you buy fast fashion, you are the problem.