I am now in my second year of not making any new clothing purchases. Apart from picking up my new winter coat last December I’ve been really good. I’ve bought a few preloved items – mostly shoes since shoemaking is not on my list of skills, but I’ve also repaired existing ones.
I’ve also been rooting through my four under-bed storage bags of clothes that have been with me since I moved in August 2016. I don’t have space at home now to hang everything and so I pick through it every time I need something new or an old favourite finally bites the dust. I also use them to rotate between summer and winter.
September heralded my first proper summer holiday since 2006 and I was woefully short of anything that wouldn’t make me swelter in 34-degree heat and anything that I would consider ‘decent’ for a holiday in an Italian city. Manchester just doesn’t allow for summer dressing and so most of my summer gear has been confined to storage since I moved here nearly 3 years ago.
My unworn clothes mostly consist of fast fashion from days before I had any idea where it all came from. I haven’t the heart to get rid of any of it so I am slowly working my way through it all and upcycling, altering and adjusting. It’s more satisfying than a new purchase and all it cost me was my time.
And it got me thinking about our purchasing habits. Fast fashion in its own way would be less of a depressing purchase if we wore them properly. It isn’t the purchase that’s the problem, it’s what you do with it afterwards that undermines it. Two or three wears is just irresponsible. Some fast fashion can last for years. I have Primark garments that are over 10 years old and still wearable. So who’s to blame?
I put it firmly with the brands who are selling the stuff in the first place. They promote the ‘out of fashion as soon as you buy it’ ethos and deliberately make clothes to fall apart quickly so that you have no choice but to replace them. These brands are out there to make money and the only way that they can do that is to make you buy as much as possible as often as possible. Their ranges change every week and once they’ve got you hooked there’s almost no going back. It’s an addiction like drugs or alcohol. The hit is much the same and it can be just as costly.
These days I get more of a buzz from stashing my cash and remaking my own clothes which also makes them unique. I’m never going to have the embarrassing dress slip up that these fine Ozzie ladies experienced not so long ago. We may chuckle over this story but it says a lot about our shopping habits and our attitude towards it.