Too often we buy on a whim. When we buy clothes we rarely give thought to whether we really need them. We don’t stop either to think about where our purchases came from and we never think about where they will end up when we are done with them. We get caught up in the intoxicating mix of anticipation, desire and panic when we see an item of clothing we want to own. We want it, we need it and we will hunt for it. We get caught in the cycle of always looking for the next shiny new item.
In the name of slow fashion and learning to be more mindful of our buying habits, I would like to suggest we learn to pause before buying and ask ourselves three important questions. Do I love it? Am I ok with where this came from? Am I certain I will use it fully?
In pausing long enough to consider our answers we might begin to reduce the number of unwanted items of clothing being added to our ever-growing landfills daily. We might begin to demand change from the companies who exploit low paid workers to produce items for our next fashion whim. And, we might regain some control over our wardrobes.
Do I love it?
We all know that a poor quality wardrobe filled with cheap and easy fashion items, is just a hot mess. We are all guilty of buying items we regret, buying items we didn’t really need and buying things that we have worn only once.
A transformation needs to take place, not just in our closets, but also in our minds; buying less and choosing better. Take time to question if you really love each item you buy. Notice the design, the details and the quality of the workmanship. If you really love it, get it. If you only kind of love it, leave it in the store. Choose instead to buy quality items that are unique, well-made and that you can treasure and enjoy each time you wear them. By embracing a more mindful style of consumption we can build our wardrobes around one created with items of quality, made for longevity, and designed to be cherished.
Am I ok with where this came from?
The fashion industry is a very labour intensive one. Just look at what you have on right now. Think about how many hands were involved in the making of your clothing. Someone had to cut, by hand, the pieces of fabric. Someone else would have sewed the main seams. Yet another person would have sewed each of the smaller seams. It would then have been passed to another person to snip the threads and tidy up any loose ends. Someone else would have put in the label and finally packed it ready to sell. Your clothing did not come from some automated system; it was made mostly by hand. Now think about whom these hands belong to. Consider the millions of people who are employed for low wages in poor conditions in factories that are built out of our line of sight. Companies do not want you to think about where your clothing came from. They do not want you to ponder on the vulnerable workers in factories where abuse and exploitation are the norm. But ask yourself how can we find beauty in an item that creates hunger and unhappiness?
By supporting ethical brands producing clothing made by fairly paid workers, we encourage others to also think of where their clothing came from. And, perhaps pressure companies to also think more about the most vulnerable in the fashion industry.
Am I certain I will use it fully?
Buying high-quality items that are made well and durable reduces the build-up of waste from the fashion industry. When we buy an item to wear once to an event we are essentially buying that garment as a disposable item. Are we ok with that? Are we ok that we recycle our plastics, buy organic food and avoid overly packaged food, yet we will buy an item that took hours to make, used large amounts of resources only to wear it once and throw it out? Unconscionable! Yet, how many of us are guilty of it. Our planet is just not built to cope with us disposing of clothing at this rate. Consider instead buying quality that is built for longevity. Take care of the clothes you own.
My challenge to you is to take the time to answer these three questions each time you are tempted by a sale or new trend on the high street. In doing so I believe you will find you begin to only buy items you love, that can be treasured and that last. And, as we start to value quality items that are made by fairly paid workers perhaps we will also provoke a change in the fast fashion industry towards a more mindful production with less waste and zero exploitation.