A couple of weeks ago, I realised I had a shopping addiction.
I couldn’t go a week without adding a new piece to my wardrobe. Each morning I would be scrolling in the ‘new arrivals’ sections of fast fashion sites to see what I could get. Then feel disappointed when there was nothing to take my fancy.
And it wasn’t just fast fashion. I would be lured into each and every charity shop wherever I walked, or on secondhand selling apps looking for my next fashion fix. And whilst second hand shopping is far better than brands churning out 1,000 new designs a week, buying for the sake of buying isn’t sustainable.
It didn’t matter where it was from or how much it cost – I just enjoyed the shiny new feeling… for all of about five minutes. Until I put it on with what I thought I’d wear it with, and it didn’t look right. Or when I put it in the wardrobe to save for the perfect occasion, which ultimately never came, and then the shiny newness wears off, despite the tags still being on.
The second the country went into lockdown, I panicked. I knew it was bad if even Primark was closed. The shops are shut! The clothes are just going to be sitting on mannequins waiting to be bought!
On the first day of the new government guidelines, I picked up a book: How to break up with fast fashion, by Lauren Bravo. It’s Lauren’s second book, following ‘What Would The Spice Girls Do?’, which I read last year.
After a chapter or two, I thought to myself – when is there ever going to be a better time to break the shopping cycle, than when all the shops are closed?
I blitzed through the pages from Monday to Friday, before and after work, soaking up the wisdom. From how to get the smell out of your charity shop finds, to introducing me to a whole host of ethical brands, and unearthing some of fashion’s dirty secrets.
Lauren speaks to fashion experts, and those who have been #notbuyingnew for months – years even. She also speaks from her own personal experience, having spent 2019 on a spending ban. The way she describes the gravitational pull towards Topshop is bizarrely spot on – almost like any girl with a part time job, student loan or decent overdraft has a magnet implanted in their purse – ironically, from Topshop – which makes them buy the first thing they see in their size.
So, the shutters were down on high street stores, and payday was looming. I usually browse Topshop and Miss Selfridge in the days leading up, creating a wishlist of loves. But this time, I resisted. What’s the point? Not like there’s anywhere to wear them to, either!
There were several paragraphs in the book that really resonated with me. Where I found myself clutching at the pages saying ‘YES, THAT’S ME! THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I DO!’, and then cringing because it’s not something to celebrate or jump for joy over. Though, Lauren reminds us not to feel guilty about our habits, but to recognise them. This helps us make better, more informed choices where possible.
Being a fashion blogger, it can be so difficult to find a balance. When there are 52 seasons in a fashion year, it can be hard to keep up with the big guns. The girls being sent (or ordering) £300 of stock from ASOS or Boohoo only to send it back or flog it on Depop as ‘never worn’.
Outfit repeating was seen as a cardinal sin – something instilled into me by both social media and former school friends. From the age of 15, I had a new dress for every 18th birthday party I got into at the village hall underage, only to spill a vodka and coke down it after my friends older brother got it for me at the bar. The dress would sit on a coat hanger for six months before my friends deemed it ‘sooo last year’, and it was discarded.
Personally, I don’t think my own mindset was ever that bad. I’m more of a fashion hoarder – nothing is ever ‘200-late’, but more ‘I don’t want to be rid of this god-awful skater dress, just incase this god-awful skater dress comes back into fashion.
Thankfully, I can honestly say I’ve never been one to buy something just for the ‘gram, to then return it or sell it on. I refuse to sell anything on Depop unless it’s been sat redundant in the wardrobe for at least 12 months. When this happens, I tend to do a huge cull, and use it to justify an equally huge spend.
I recently sold around 10 items on Depop (and made all of about £40 after fees and postage. Then went straight to the supermarket – literally on the way back from the post office – and spent £56 on a cardigan, jumper and trousers.
The trousers still have the tags on… three weeks later.
That being said, I do also have great links with my local vintage shop Sparrowhawk, and buy vintage and secondhand frequently. Build relationships with traders and they’ll pick out pieces they know you’ll love and give you first dibs – thanks Rhi! But that doesn’t make me a sustainable saint. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
I’m happy to say that at the time of writing, I’m one week into #NotBuyingNew clothes. In that time, I’ve survived a 70% off Kurt Geiger sale, and several hundred marketing emails from brands trying desperately to lure me out of my lockdown blues to shop.
Ever heard of retail therapy? I was obsessed, and used it as an excuse to drop a twenty for any minor inconvenience during my day. The traffic is heavy on the way home from work? I’ll stop off at the retail park. Someone left a rude comment on one of my articles? I need a new jumper to soften the blow. Someone used up the last of the milk in the fridge? Well, I just need a new pair of boots then don’t I? I also used these inconveniences as a reason to go to the McDonalds Drive Thru – equally as unhealthy. And that’s shut too, so maybe it’s all a message from the universe to make me appreciate what I have and stop both fast food and fast fashion.
So I, beffshuff, hereby speak into existence my vow. To not buy an item of new clothing for at least one whole month. I won’t use a bad day as an excuse to relapse. And I won’t ‘spaff money I don’t have on clothes I don’t need’ and mask it as an investment.
I vow that I will look at Facebook targeted ads and say ‘wow, that’s cute’, then scroll, not click.
And I promise that I will try to curb the fashion FOMO. That feeling that the dress I just saw on an influencer is not the last dress in the world.
I swear to not be lead into temptation, and deliver myself from evil by unsubscribing to marketing emails in my inbox. Maybe I should turn off my ‘promotions’ filter?
And when my #NotBuyingNew month is over, I will be sure to question my inner addict when I hold a piece of fabric in store. I will say ‘Beff, do you really want this blouse, or do you just want to spend money? What will you wear it with? And is it bloody comfortable? Because I’ll be damned if I buy anything that itches or has a diggy-in zip.
I will live by the rule of not buying an item, and should I not be able to stop thinking about it, reserving it to collect another day.
I will not buy new this April 2020.