It feels impossible to believe (and really quite embarrassing to admit) now, but as recently as a year ago the environmental impact of our collective fast fashion habit hadn’t even crossed my mind. I picked up new things regularly and with little thought; a lunchtime Primark trip here, a ‘pop in’ to H&M on the way to the gym there. I was incapable of passing the brash redness of a sale sign without having a ‘quick look’ and the buzz of buying something new would have me at the tills clutching fistfuls of fabric without a second’s consideration.
Last Autumn, though, I did that thing that hoardes of us did; I watched Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. A fairly predictable awakening, I know, especially given the outrage expressed by well over half of my Instagram feed; but at the time, I didn’t say much about it at all. The internet is the home of performative anger, of course, and I was very aware that loudly declaring the whole situation a travesty because I’d watched a single hour of television without attempting any actual change wasn’t of particular help.
What I’d always thought of as a harmless love of clothes and propensity to shop often turned out to be rather less harmful than I’d imagined, and I resolved then that even if it turned out to be a long and slow journey, I would start making quiet changes.
It’s that first moment of realisation that came to mind when I heard about Slow Fashion Season. The rules are very simple; three months, no new clothes. I signed up.
It started on 21 June, so we’re over a week in. I presumed I would be saying it’s been easy so far (and truthfully I do think it will be), but unfortunately Zara seem to have co ordinated their sale to start simultaneously with the challenge; I had to go in to return something, and I can’t pretend I didn’t feel the familiar itch to browse the rails.
Saying that, however, and despite having until 21 September still to go, I’m certain I won’t fail, thanks to the slightly more thoughtful mindset towards shopping I’ve been trying to cultivate in myself. In the past nine months I’ve tried to carefully cut back on my shopping, and the number of new things I’ve bought between October and now sits at a grand total of 12.
It’s still not a small number of items, particularly for some people, I’m very aware of that – but I’m sure that it’s significantly lower than the volume I would have acquired if I’d continued buying at my previous rate.
This change so far has been made easier, however, by being in the business of posting photos of myself in clothes on the internet, which adds another layer to an already nuanced subject. I’m lucky enough to be offered gifts on a semi-regular basis, and in the time I’ve been trying to shop more carefully I have still been accepting bits and pieces, albeit on an extremely picky basis (I have to not only love it but also think it either fills a gap in my wardrobe OR it’s something that I know I will wear again and again and again – no ‘I love it and it will look great on Instagram’).
Anyway – this has undoubtedly made the process of cutting back on shopping easier, at times providing the thrill of a new wardrobe addition without having to actually buy anything, so because it feels right to me, I’ll also be forgoing any gifting from fashion brands over the next three months.
You have my word; I will not acquire (either through buying or gifting) new clothes, shoes, or accessories during Slow Fashion Season.
(I have one exception, which I hope I won’t be judged for; I’m a bridesmaid at the wedding of one of my best friends in August, and we don’t have our outfits sorted for that yet.)
Which means – shock horror – for three months I will have my existing wardrobe alone to play dress up with. So what, you may say. You’d be right; it really isn’t a big deal, or a particularly difficult challenge, and what a privileged position I must be in to shop so often that it’s something I consider giving up.
I’m firmly of that opinion too, but I also know that but generally speaking, many of us have more access to more clothes than ever before, and in 2019 it often feels like no sooner have we snapped an outfit for social media purposes than it’s old news.
This mindset – that I’ve been guilty of succumbing to for as long as my love of dressing has existed – is starting to become boring in itself though, and I find myself becoming increasingly aware and uncomfortable about my own – albeit minor – part in perpetuating the neverending ‘new new new’ cycle. Talking about buying loads of stuff, even in the oh-so-relatable ‘oops, couldn’t resist, spent loads of money today’ way, or consistently posting only new in clothes has started to seem somewhat crass, and consuming content from people or publications where excess is actively encouraged feels jarring.
And that’s not a slight on anyone, it’s just to say that in a world where lots of us are taking baby steps and still making many mistakes, I’m really still trying to figure out my approach to the fast fashion problem in the context of my own life.
This is my way of furthering the cultivation of a more mindful approach to consumption in myself. With this three months purchase-free I’ll hopefully have the headspace and time to unpick my relationship with shopping a bit more, along with learning more about sustainable fashion and revisiting my old love for vintage and secondhand.
I’m not sure that this will be the end for me and buying new forever, or even for longer than the three months (although I did only intend to go vegan for one month at the start of 2017, so you never know!) but I do want to make my purchasing a lot more considered even than it has been so far this year.
And hey, I’d also love to save some money, lest I live in a rented flat forever, so perhaps this will help.
I’ll let you know how I get on – but if anyone has any tips, suggestions, articles, questions or similar, I’d love to hear from you.
You can find out more about Slow Fashion Season here.
What I’m wearing
Trench – Topshop (old) | Jeans – H&M (old) | Bag – vintage | Shoes – New Look
6 thoughts on “I’ve pledged to buy nothing new for three months and this is why”
Love this post Sophie! I was one of those bloggers who jumped on the bandwagon last Autumn after the documentary and pledged to change my habits. I think once your mindset really does shift, new clothes don’t hold *quite* the same appeal, although like you I’m absolutely powerless to a red sale sign and some yellow stickers.
I seriously admire your pledge, and have no doubts that you’ll stick to it!
BTW… what’s your stance on charity shop clothes, or other second hand items? I go with a ‘charity shops don’t count’ rule but maybe that’s cheating!
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Ahh thank you you wonderful thing! I think the same – it’s hard to say what happens in your mind, but something shifts and even though you still feel that sort of pull towards new clothes and new shoes and new bags and all the rest of it, it becomes easier not to act on it. Until those yellow stickers get involved…
For Slow Fashion Season charity shops, vintage, clothes swaps and any other kind of second hand is allowed, and I’m all for that outside of the challenge anyway so I’m looking forward to some second hand rummaging! I really think second hand shopping is great, would love to find more ‘internet people’ who do that well to encourage me to keep going with it and remind me there are real gems to be found 😅 Although I guess there’s probably something in that just buying more even when it is secondhand isn’t helping with the sort of constant-consumption mindset. I think it’s just about being honest with yourself really isn’t it – which is quite hard to do (its alarmingly easy to justify new stuff to myself, I’ve always found) so hopefully going cold turkey for this period of time will help me examine that a bit. We’ll see! 🙈 Thank you for reading my love xxx
The documentary really opened my eyes to just how bad the fashion industry is. I think that it’s great that you’ve pledged to buy nothing new! It’s amazing when you consider whether you really need something or whether it’s just a want (and I am totally guilty of buying things because I want them and they are on sale :D). I hope you update how you go with this!
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It was the same for me – genuinely eye opening, I hadn’t really even considered it before that. Sale buys can be hard to resist, I can’t even count the times in the past I’ve bought something pretty much purely because it’s in the sale. If you bet it cheap and go on to wear it loads it’s great, but I can’t say that was always the case 🙈 I definitely will do updates of some sort – not quite sure on the format yet – as it’s definitely causing me to examine my former habits!
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I’m planning on doing a no buy 6 months from September! I enjoined reading this, keep us updated! X
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6 months – that’s impressive! Good luck with it, sounds like a great thing to do. Thank you for reading, and I will do 🙂 xx
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