Boohoo bodycon or pleather PLT – whatever your choice was, if you’re a young woman in the UK, these Kardashian-esque styling choices may well once have been your go-to when gaging your way in the world of self-expression. As I delete those posts of 2015 from Facebook, wiping history from records (but unfortunately not minds), I often ponder this ‘past’ of buying new, more and often.
Since the awakening that fast fashion is very bad – in fact quite terrible – for the environment, and those who make the pieces, I have been constantly aware for the last few years that buying less, buying used, buying ethical, is the way forward. The statistics and facts speak for themselves; according to Quantis, a sustainability consultancy group, the environmental impact of the global apparel and footwear accounts for around 8% of greenhouse emissions globally, and you can find evidence of those who make these garments being exploited. The bottom line: to help the planet and to help the people, we shouldn’t be buying more than we need, and we really shouldn’t be buying from unethical brands if we’re buying new.
I know this. You know this. Logically, therefore, I should be running around in my vintage Levis, second hand Afghan coat happily shopping exclusively at vintage stores, Depop and Vestiaire Collective. And I do, most of the time. I compare notes with friends on the best charity shops where I live, I stitch, I swap, I borrow, I lend. But beneath the surface, a dark secret lurks. Like having good sex with someone you shouldn’t, my 10pm wine-fuelled bodysuit orders are satisfying, short-lived and filled with post-shag regret, emotional turmoil and guilt. I scorn myself for being selfish, wasteful, greedy… “They’ve brought out the bodysuit in pink!” Click, add, buy. I can’t help myself.
Of course, I over-dramatise – not all my fast-fashion purchases take place under the sheets, late at night in a clandestine haze. I could be seen over summer walking out of Zara clutching at pieces of cheap satin and poorly-tailored denim in broad daylight. The satisfaction of tracking down a beautiful vintage coat is one thing, there’s a different hit when buying new quickly and now. I suppose it’s the difference between a McDonalds and a fillet steak – one more grimly satisfying than the other. You may laugh. And perhaps (rightly) question that if I have so much guilt about my unethical shopping habits, why keep them up? Despite my ramblings, I don’t really have an answer for you. I hope to one day be a fully-sustainable fashion inspiration – smugly guilting those around me who fall for Zara’s green-washing and constant cycle of blouses that fall apart in the washing machine. But for now I remain shamefully scrolling (waiting to see if there is a new colour of roll neck jumper on the horizon).