Ok, I said it. And now I’m a little bit scared.
I think I’ve had a slightly unhealthy relationship with clothes and shopping for a while. The problem is, it’s quite normal and I suspect I’m really not alone. I’m probably not even that bad by comparison to some.
I love buying new things, especially clothes. Pre-motherhood, that often involved a lazy weekend afternoon browsing the shops and maybe purchasing something. Not every time, I didn’t have to buy something just for the sake of it, but often I would buy something just to cheer myself up. Post-motherhood, this involves a lot more online shopping, but who doesn’t love the excitement of waiting for a new purchase to arrive, all beautifully wrapped and bundled!
Some of my spur-of-the-moment purchases or sale ‘bargains’, genuinely have turned out to be some of my most-worn items. And I’ve got clothes in my wardrobe that I’ve had for well over five years and are still high in my favourites list.
But, undoubtedly, I also have clothes that I’ve worn only a handful of times before I decided they didn’t suit me, or didn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe. My old clothes go to charity shops, so they’re not thrown away, but it’s still clearly a huge waste.
Although I don’t tend to shop in the (not naming brands) low-budget, stereotypical fast fashion chains, I do shop in high street stores whose ethical and environmental impact probably isn’t much better. But because it costs me more, the snobbery factor makes it feel like it’s not as bad. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to wake up a bit more.
I’m now more conscious of the environment impact of fast fashion and I’ve decided to ditch it. So this year, I’ve set myself a challenge not to buy fast fashion.
What do I mean by this?
Fast fashion is typically defined as on-trend clothing, copying the catwalk styles, that is manufactured quickly to get to market. It tends to be associated with cheaply produced items that are lower-quality and made in less-than ethical conditions. Due to the low cost, fast fashion is often seen as disposable, with an item worn only a few times before it is discarded. And with the lower quality, it isn’t likely to be passed on or sold again, because it won’t last long enough.
Because the fashion industry has a high environmental impact (growing the cotton, or producing synthetic materials where they are derived from oil-based plastics, manufacturing, the dying process, the cost of transporting the materials and goods to get them to you), fast fashion has a disproportionately high impact on the environment.
And that’s before you even look at the human cost of factories that are continually pushed to cut costs. I saw a quote a while ago that really resonated with me – why would you expect to be able to buy something for less than it would cost you to make it?
So this year I’m going to try to buy less and buy well. Buy from small, ethical companies, whether that’s handmade or small factories. Buy fewer items, but well-made ones that will last and where I've paid an ethical price.
Please let me know if you have any recommended shops I should be looking at and I’ll let you know how I get on…