The key in the quest for green-and-glam fashion is to choose quality over quantity. This is the underpinning of the “slow fashion” concept, as opposed to the throw-away “fast fashion” mindset. That’s why the “quality vs. quantity” dilemma finds itself as the topic of this week’s article dealing with the letter “Q”.
In Marie Curie-like fashion, I have recently conducted a scientific experiment on myself. Even though I am not particularly religious, this year I decided to give up something I really love for lent: shopping. And I can tell you that it was much harder than giving up chocolate.
My self-imposed shopping moratorium was intended to demonstrate just how much buying clothes, shoes and accessories is a part of my everyday life. I am a self-confessed “shoesoholic”; after all, this is what you would expect from someone who writes a blog called “green stilettos”! However this 40-day ban was also my personal stand against disposable fashion, which I dubbed My Fashion Fast Against Fast Fashion.
The first couple of weeks went more or less smoothly. With spring dragging its feet this year in Europe, there was less temptation to “refresh” my wardrobe by splurging on the seasonal pastels and florals, and fresh greens of the textile persuasion.
I was smugly walking past my favorite shops and routinely deleting “Spring Sale!” alerts from my email. I was happily throwing mail order catalogues in the paper recycling bin. But somewhere along my fashion road less travelled, I stumbled and I fell. Three times to be exact.
There were always good reasons for my emergency fashion fixes. First, I spotted this amazing base-layer top by Patagonia on a skiing mini-break. This was essential equipment, not fashion – I had to get it!
Second, I “desperately needed” a pair of dark blue jeans (just about the only missing colour of jeans in my wardrobe). And I got myself a pair of organic and fair trade Monkey Genes from www.fashion-conscience.com. On this occasion my excuse was to test how this UK-based e-retailer would cope with delivering to Switzerland (which is not an EU country and generally a nightmare for importing stuff from elsewhere in Europe). The result: package stuck in customs for four weeks which pushed it beyond the deadline for returning the goods. Thankfully, in this case I wouldn’t have needed to.
And my third and final fall. The most amazing, unique and exquisite purchase of all: a fly-net veil hat by Mich Dulce, a sustainable millinery creation made from banana fibers handwoven by indigenous women in the Philippines. Here I don’t even have any excuses: no wedding invitations or horse racing parties to account for such an indulgence other than the fact that this headpiece is so glam and green!
With Easter finally behind us, it is now time to reflect on my fashion sins. I certainly failed on the main count: going shopping-free for 40 days. In my defense, all three of my purchases were sustainable and of high quality.
Furthermore, there are the “avoided shopping opportunities” to bring into the equation. Although I don’t have a scientifically measured baseline to compare changes in my shopping behaviour against, I am certain that I would have shopped – and spent – more without this challenge.
Now that my fashion fast is over, I should be feeling the urge to go on a shopping spree, perhaps even a fast-fashion binge. And yet this experience left me strangely serene and empowered to avoid the lure of shops for a bit longer.
So instead of hitting the high street, I decided to do two things that would be my sustainable fashion fix: one, a thorough spring clean of my wardrobe(s) to discover some old pieces that can be updated for the season and two, a shwopping (clothes swapping) event with friends.
To conclude this “quality over quantity” article, I have found this wonderful quote by Aristotle: “Quality is not act. It is a habit.” And this rather sobering poster below.
And finally, if you suspect that your shopping has got out of control, I highly recommend this article by Jill Chivers, who designed the online programme My Year Without Clothes Shopping to help women who shop too much and want to stop.