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No New Clothes for 6 Months!

I’ve always been a fashion enthusiast. Ever since I was young I persisted to dress and shop for myself because I loved the idea of putting outfits together and letting my clothes be a reflection of my personality. You may even notice that from previous blog posts that the inception of anabundanceofmelanin had an element of fashion. What I and others around me noticed however, was that I wasn’t shopping for new clothes because I was naturally a trend setter, a fashion blogger or wanted to do anything in the fashion industry, but I was doing it out of habit and mindless consumerism. To put it blankly, I wanted to keep up with everyone else and what new trend was hot at that moment. In addition to this, the marketing from the fashion industry is so underestimated as I blindly fell into the trap of “If I’m getting a discount, I’m saving money anyway”, without realising that I was actually wasting 100s of pounds into clothes I’d only wear once or didn’t like anymore because it was no longer trendy. I didn’t ever want to outfit repeat if I was dressing up, which is so silly because if I bought something with my own money, why the heck wouldn’t I want to get my money’s worth by wearing a piece of clothing to the death? I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I had a shopping addiction but it was becoming an activity that hugely fuelled my reward system for a short while, every time I did it. Plus, it was clearly making me skint!

A Change in the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry hasn’t always been what it is now. The introduction of ‘fast fashion’ saw 4 seasonal collections a year transform into 52 mini-seasons, as clothings brands release one or more new collections of clothes every week annually. What is fast fashion, you ask? The term is used to describe the activity of moving collections from the catwalk to shop floors with an exceptionally quick turnaround time, to cater to the demand of new trends (1). As a 1.2 trillion USD global industry (2), clothes are no longer just a necessity or a sign of wealth, but their production has now become notorious for the huge detrimental impacts on the environment and human rights it brings.

Human Rights & Environmental Impacts of Fast Fashion

One of the biggest tell tales that you have bought clothes from a fast fashion brand is the quality of the material. With the humungous increase in production, something has to give to ensure the business is still profitable. In any business, this is usually a monetary adjustment. If people are buying new clothes every week and only wearing it for a short amount of time, brands see this opportunity to cut back on the quality of their fabrics and quality control just so they can keep producing more (1). Have you ever wondered why your straps broke or your seam burst on your dress from only one wear? There’s your answer. Further to this, production costs have been minimised so much, as brands find the cheapest way to produce garments which means paying workers way below the minimum wage, employing children and often not ensuring that their production facilities adhere to safe working conditions. It was only over a century ago that one of the most horrific disasters in the New York Fashion industry claimed the lives of 145 workers who died due to negligence. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Manhattan employed nearly all young girls who worked 12 hours a day every day with awful working conditions. When a fire broke out, the workers tried to escape, but the building’s lack of compliant fire escape routes made it impossible to get out (3). The environmental impacts of mass production are dangerous too, with almost 85% of clothes bought by consumers end up in landfill as solid waste and harmful chemicals and byproducts are leaked into water systems (2).

Why did I Commit to Not Buying New Clothes?

At the end of 2019, I made a plan to begin saving for a house deposit and travelling around South East Asia (with COVID-19, I didn’t end up going) and with my shopping habits being the biggest contributor to not saving, I decided it was time to make a change. This change wasn’t solidified however, until I had a conversation with an old work colleague that opened my eyes up to the damage of fast fashion in the world. Her 17 year old daughter had vowed to not buy any new clothes for a year in an attempt to become more sustainable. Inspired of course, I done my research and also vowed to not buy any new clothes for the next 6 months (Jan 2020 - June 2020). 6 months because I know myself and I had to at least make the goal achievable!

Now I know what you’re thinking … what do I actually mean by ‘no new clothes’?

I decided to refrain from buying any clothes unless they were second hand or sustainably made. By doing this, I was instantly saving money and giving life to unwanted clothes that would otherwise just sit there. With platforms like Depop and Ebay these days, it makes shopping for second hand clothes much easier than spending 2 hours raking through useless items. In the end, I only ended up buying a gym top from Depop and stuck to not buying anything until June 2020. I have to admit, it actually wasn’t that difficult (especially with lockdown, cos where was I going??) because I realised that I naturally rotated similar clothes week in week out to go to uni including having an incentive: the money I didn’t spend on clothes went towards a future house deposit or my travelling fund. In June, I decided to purchase some new clothes but these were surprisingly very small orders and I found myself scrutinising whether I needed to buy something every time I went on an app.

Challenge #2

Now that I’m going to be starting work with a low PhD income and increased bills, I’m going to make sure I stick to my budget and save as much as possible which means, I’m going on another ‘no new clothes’ challenge until the end of the year. I also made sure to only pack clothes that I like wearing on my move to Newcastle, so that I have no excuse to say ‘I have no clothes that I like’. After January, I think I’ll keep up the same challenge and if I want to buy new clothes, they have to be at least sustainable, high quality or Black-owned. I’m not saying that people should never buy from fast fashion brands (hey I probably will continue to do so in future) but I think it goes a long way to be conscious of what you are consuming. With financial circumstances and likability at hand, do what works for you and your lifestyle as long as you’re comfortable with the possible implications.

If you’d also like to go on the challenge of ‘No New Clothes’ until January 2021, message me on my Instagram and we can be accountable for one another. No pressure though, the main aim is to try to shop less if you think you’re currently doing it too much. These are the rules:

  1. Commit to not buying any new clothes until January 1st 2021(you can buy new clothes for other people’s Xmas presents if you want to)

  2. You can only buy clothes if they’re second hand or sustainably made (second hand is better, though)

  3. SAVE the money that you don’t spend on clothes. There’s no use if you’re just going to use it to indulge in something else that’s not useful. At the end of the 3 months, you can decide what you’d like to do with the money.

This is both a sustainability and saving challenge!

I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it insightful & remember to join the challenge over on my Instagram page. Check out my previous blog post all about the Science Behind Skincare Products and watch my skincare routine on Insta. Make sure to subscribe if you want to be notified of new posts and receive exclusive content straight into your inbox (p.s. I’ve planned some amazing content for you next month!!!)

Until next time,

D x

You can view my references for this blog post below:

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