In London, we seethe in haul culture; we collect, purchase, consume and throwaway more than ever before. The main culprit? Fashion.
We are obsessed with fast, temporary and fleeting sartorial wardrobes and repertoires. No sooner have we purchased the latest ruffle-sleeve chiffon blouse from Zara, then we discard it in favour of H&M’s iteration, but in an of-the-moment gingham instead.
Oxford Street is pregnant with tweens, plastic bag full of the latest covetable, must-have, the-latest-superfluous-Instagram-fashion-blogger-just-worn items. We impulsively buy, wear twice, discard at the back of the wardrobe and buy an identical version online three months later.
When did we develop such a sterile, disposable, fickle relationship with our clothes?
I grew up in a household prone to hand-me-downs. Half of my current wardrobe is leftovers from my mum’s. The other half are staples purchased during my time as a fashion assistant (I worked during university) for various Italian fashion houses. These are investment pieces, sartorial backbones that can’t and won’t be castoff in favour of fickle fashion.
I don’t mind a splurge on the high street, but I have a serious problem with our obsession with collecting and hoarding unnecessary items. It’s bad for the environment, bad for our habits and a terrible inconvenience in a small studio flat in the middle of the already overcrowded London.
We can wax-lyrical on how fast fashion effects the environment and not to mention the impact on the workers themselves. This is a huge and genuine concern of mine, but it doesn’t mean it translates to others. The media is rinsed in op-eds, investigative features, documentaries, podcasts, talks and events which highlight the impact of fast fashion, but it still doesn’t seem to have diminished Primark’s sales.
So, what proactive steps can we take to encourage the younger generation (the main instigators) to consume less and recycling more?
Remove the negative connotations of hand-me-downs
Hand-me-downs are not to be sneered at. Unbeknown to most, a parent’s closet can contain hidden, one-of-a-kind style gems.
Take a look and recycle your clothes generationally. Besides, there’s nothing more satisfying than donning a unique vintage outfit, which has been worn by the women or men before you. This is the true meaning of style, an intrinsic relationship and story with the clothes you wear.
Take to the highstreets for basics
Denim, khaki blazer, white t-shirt, black pants, silk shirt…these are staples to any sartorial wardrobe. Enjoy splurging on these in your highstreets (or somewhere fancier if your wallet inclines) and take to purchasing second-hand or vintage for ‘special items’.
A sparkly jacket from Zara might be tempting, but how many times are you really going to wear it? But, finding a similar, hand-sewn, 70s version from the markets in Brighton…. well, that’s a keeper.
Reorder your wardrobe
Choose one weekend day at the end of every month to reorder, categorise and refresh your wardrobe, you’ll be amazed at what you may find.
Often, we buy and buy without every reflecting on what we already have. Do you really need four versions of the same black t-shirt? Probably not.
Keeping abreast of what’s already in your closet will assist in quenching those must-have temptations at the register.
Try and buy in store
E-commerce is a booming trade, no more so than in retail. It’s so easy and simple, a quick swipe will leave you with a precious package on your desk the next day. We really have become obsessed with instantaneous fashion gratification; we see, we want, we buy, we have.
I have always found purchasing something online negates the emotive connection with the product. Firstly, the sensory experience is simply not there and therefore you are often purchasing on impulse rather than reason.
My advice? Go into the store. Feel, touch and try on the product or item. Always ask yourself, ‘would it go with three other items?’. No? Then put it back.
Monitor your social media
Social media is a haven for the latest disposable style. Barely-there silk slips, dungarees, oversized hoodies, contentious logo T-shirts, slip-on heeled sandals, see-through bags…Instagram, especially, has created a platform of highly successful influencers whose only real influence on their audience is to encourage the consumption of fast, flimsy fashion.
Monitoring your social media is key. And, keeping a watchful and cynical gaze of whatever is currently ‘hot’ (sartorially speaking) on Instagram, it will be passé in a week.