Why You Should Buy Less Clothes
One of my resolutions this year is to buy less clothes. I know from the perspective of someone who is always interested in fashion, this seems improbable. I have realized recently there is not a lot of personal value and positive financial consequences from having so many things. If we’re being honest, who wears all of it anyways? I have solved part of the problem by trying to enjoy what I already have, but I have realized the problem might also be in what I want. This might fall on deaf ears, but here are the reasons why I am planning on buying less clothes.
Being a college student has always been rough on a bank account, but with online shopping and fast fashion, the temptations are very overwhelming. Buying less clothes sounds simpler than it actually is when your amount spent on clothes is the same amount you spend on food (a shameful statistic I learned about myself when I downloaded Mint, considering one is much more necessary than the other). Which leads to my next reason,
Giving Others Access to Affordable Clothes
To my last point you might say: “Megan, have you ever heard of thrifting? Thrifting is life, thrifting is a savior for those who are dead broke” Before, I would have agreed with you. This video from Rian Phin (I saw this after beginning to write this article but it has only strengthened my resolve) is my response. She explains that the origin of thrift stores and Goodwill is to give affordable clothing to those who need it. Not you, a millennial who spends their paycheck on Postmates and is then broke. It is for someone who has faced financial trauma and needs new clothes for themselves and their family. My suggestion is to look more into consignment stores rather than your local Goodwill. Places like Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet are meant to be thrifting for the middle class and above. Obviously, your financial situation is your business but consider whether you are really in a place where you need to thrift coats and necessities from someone who may need it more.
New clothing requires a lot of resources to be manufactured. It takes 1800 gallons of water to make a new pair of jeans and 400 gallons to make a cotton shirt. When fabric is being dyed or processed, that water is not able to be reused. Considering our current administration thinks global warming is fake, it is up to consumers to see how they can lessen their footprint on the environment. This also goes along with disposing of clothing. The more clothing you buy, the more you typically get rid of. Whether you donate it or throw it away, at some point it usually ends up in a landfill where it sits and sits and sits. Fabric, especially those of manufactured fibers, are not typically biodegradable. Throwing clothing away is just as bad as using styrofoam, shame on you!
The environment is important, but so are those who make clothing too! Human rights violations can be rampant when clothing is outsourced from the United States. That is why brands such as American Apparel are moderately expensive. In 2013, a building named Rana Plaza collapsed and the death toll was 1,134. What was made in this building? Clothing and accessories for Mango, Primark, Walmart and more. Your favorite retailers and brands probably use similar sites that are unsafe. Not only are the working conditions physically unsafe, the workers there are usually underpaid and often face sexual harassment and abuse. When you pay ten dollars for a shirt, you are costing someone across the world a living wage.
Not Feeding into the Hyper-Trend Cycle
Consumers are told that their wants are needs. Fast fashion takes cheaply made clothing, adds whatever embellishment is trendy for those six weeks, slaps it on a plastic hanger and people eat it up! The high fashion trend cycle can start five years before it reaches mass market consumers. Somehow, fast fashion has accelerated that to the point where counterfeit goods and knockoffs can begin manufacturing the day after Fashion Week. Without getting too bogged down by fashion forecasting and trend cycle logistics, it boils down to you do not need that new pair of jeans with pearls running down them. They are cute, they are cheap, but they will also be out of style in four to six months. Fads are so prevalent now and people cannot see it because the next one is being pushed to them via email inbox. My point is I am not planning on buying anything solely because it is new and pretty. My solution to this is:
Investing in Personal Style
I want to buy things that I actually want. That seems easy, but taking the time to think about whether you want something for clout or because it speaks to you is so valuable with the market saturation occurring right now. Buying fewer items gives me the option invest in what I want, rather than scrambling to buy the cheapest version. Not only is waiting and saving for something I really want saving me money in the long run, but it also means what I am buying is higher quality and will last longer. I will no longer be a victim to scratchy fabrics from H&M that unravel and pill. This will also cultivate my more personal sense of style instead of whatever fad is running its course. Recommendations for brands that are worth investing it and have consumers in mind are Reformation, Mejuri, Everlane, and The Break. Why not buy something you actually love instead of just like?
I may not have converted you to my Marie Kondo-esque philosophy for clothing. That is okay, I’m probably going to be a hypocrite from time to time too. But just the smallest change in habits can have effects beyond you and, selfishly, may help you even more.