Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been on a bit of a mental journey to try and understand my purchasing behaviour when it comes to fashion. I’m usually pretty good when it comes to buying brands that have values that match my own, but it’s still buying, and I know it’s a crazy spiral of consumerism if you give in to the numerous sale emails and events brands want you to be a part of.
Everywhere I look – from my Facebook and Instagram feeds, emails, store signage – it’s all pushing me to buy, and buy more for less. This morning when I was taking some clothes to the dry cleaner in West End (it prides itself on being eco-friendly which is just a plus because it’s the closest one to my house), I went past a little boutique with a sign out the front that read: “Nothing over $39”. I cringed. Nothing could appeal to me less than the idea of a shop packed with clothing where the retail price is $39.
For that to be economically viable, the clothes would need to have been purchased for less than $20 from the wholesaler that sold them, and if we’re going off Oxfam’s recent report that women are paid only 4% of the garment price in most cases, that’s $1.56 per item to the person who made it. And that’s going off the most expensive item in the store! But the real issue that gets me is the quality of these products.
Fast forward two hours and I’m cleaning out my wardrobe in my bedroom, taking a mental stocktake of the things I wear and do not, and going through the big plastic storage container in my cupboard which I often think could disappear and I’d be none the wiser. It’s where I put things on the way out of my wardrobe, but today it wasn’t sitting well with me.
At some point in time, I purchased this or that item, with the best intentions of wearing it. But there’s just too many there to justify. Why did I buy two pairs of traditional camel leather shoes in India? Did I really think I was going to wear them? And the thought of putting these things in the bin just makes me physically ill. Not because I’m a hoarder, but because I know the process of these textiles breaking down in landfill is a long one to say the least, and is a major contributor to global warming.
I, like many people, need to rethink my purchases and the size of my wardrobe. Purchasing from brands that make their clothes ethically is fantastic, but I still think we need to stop impulse purchases. We really need to buy less. And buying less means buying better quality, because the shop with everything under $39 just ain’t going to cut it if you want something that will last the season and avoid the bin.
Every time you want something new, consider the alternatives that you already own, regularly go through your wardrobe to remind yourself of what you own and encourage yourself to wear the things that don’t often see the light of day. We need to make a serious shift in the way we consume fashion, and it starts with us, not the brands.