A question I get asked a lot by my clients is ‘Do I have to just shop preloved to be good for the environment?
‘I want to help the environment but I love fashion and I love shopping!’
My answer is no, not at all.
Yes you can help the environment and still shop!
You just need to shop smart and mindfully. Which isn’t as boring as it sounds, believe me. Putting aside all the environmental factors that the fashion industry is responsible for, it is our shopping habits, HOW we shop, that need to change in order to make the biggest difference.
Shopping very different to how it used to be.
Our shopping habits have changed drastically over the past few years, according to Square Up 97% of us shoppers now make monthly retail purchases online with 73% of UK consumers having recently bought products directly from social media.
Online shopping has become the norm, whether for our grocery shopping, ordering household items from Amazon or buying our monthly fashion fix from one of millions of new pieces uploaded every day from brands like Zara or Asos on an actual website.
Bring in shopping events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday where in 2021 shoppers spent an estimated 9.2bn *insert link , with more than 50% of the traffic recorded during Cyber Weekend originating from mobile devices. (fact-finder.com)
From tapping on a Facebook Ad or buying from your favourite small business on Instagram, we shop very differently to how we did 5, 10 years ago.
So I mentioned ASOS and Zara….which for a Sustainable Stylist like myself sits with Fast Fashion as well as cheese and wine on Sunday night.
These big brands along with other fast fashion giant Boo Hoo, which since 2021 now owns brand such as Pretty Little Thing, Nasty Gal, Oasis, Warehouse, Coast, Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons and Wallis has been the driving force behind the cheap, trend led, poorly made clothes filling our wardrobes for a number of years now.
Between 2014 and 2016 Boohoo actively targeted social media as their main marketing strategy. Using influencers and bloggers to wear and promote their products to the 16-24 year old market their sales more than doubled in that time to be worth around £2 billion by the end of 2017.
They have since grown and grown allowing them to acquire such a large portion of the retail markets more well known brands. (Also capitalising on the collapse of Arcadia has helped!)
They have really pioneered social media shopping but also exacerbated the impulsive, instant shopping mentality of fast fashion.
Whether it is for a special event coming up, maybe a date night or dinner with the girls, a lot of the time it doesn’t even need a reason we’ll just buy it because we feel better about ourselves for doing so and there is a chance we will look as amazing as the model wearing it in the picture does.
After that easy tap or click of ‘buy now’ within a couple of days you have your desired item.
You try it on, and then there is the reality check that it doesn’t look anything like the model! There are bits poking out in places different to hers and well the fabric shows every single lump and bump, even Spanx won’t save this bad boy.
Sometimes if the fit isn’t too bad you may want to keep the item, in the hope of ‘fitting into it one day’. Or it does fit ok, and is suitable for whichever event it was bought for but that’s it, once you’ve worn it and the event is over, it will most likely continue to hang in your wardrobe taking up space.
The ease of purchase and minimal thought process is what online retailers rely on and is what drives the cheap and fast manufacturing ‘fast fashion’ machine.
They are banking on the fact you don’t really know what you need and if you think too much about what you are about to buy, then there is a chance you may realise that in fact you don’t and not complete your purchase.
Which is also what I call Impulsive Shopping.
The reason why many of us have wardrobes that are full of clothes that are never worn and one of the main reasons why we have all found ourselves in this situation…..a wardrobe full of clothes with nothing to wear.
So how do we make this change and shop better?
Although online shopping or more social media shopping is gaining momentum,
ironically 34% of consumers say they miss trying out and experiencing products in person before buying. (Square Up)
Actually shopping. Old school shopping.
Meeting a friend at nearest high street or shopping centre then spending the afternoon browsing, trying things on, liking it but holding it incase you saw something you liked better?
We bought far less when we shopped this way, because we were taking our time. We were enjoying the experience of shopping, taking in all the gorgeous displays and style inspiration the shops and their mannequins were giving us.
(That was once upon a time my job to create those displays)
We were Mindfully shopping.
Shopping across a multitude of places, being aware of all that’s around you. Not just heading to Zara and buying the newest thing the has come up on your Instagram stories or the ‘must have’ item that has found its way into your inbox.
Mindful Shopping is one of the first things I talk about with my clients when trying to break habits of impulsive shopping.
Plan. Pause. Play.
Plan. Get to know what your wardrobe needs, get an idea of what you are looking for before your start your shopping.
Pause. Just take a minute. It’s not going anywhere, (regardless of the flash up that says 20 other people are looking at this item) anyway if it does it wasn’t meant to be!
The magic question to ask yourself is can you create 10 looks with it from pieces that are already hanging in your wardrobe?
If you can’t then don’t buy it.
Play. Have fun with trying on your new pieces, don’t dread it. If you have paused, got your 10 looks in your head and then you actually bought, then you should be so excited to be trying on your new purchases!
This technique can be applied for online shopping too as well as preloved/ charity shop shopping!
Just because it is ‘sustainable’ doesn’t mean you can buy more! Your wardrobe still clutters up regardless of where it has come from!
If you take anything from this ramble of mine then be it to just take a minute before you buy something.
I talk about Wardrobe Love so much and the impact a great, wardrobe full of clothes that feel good can have on how you feel for a reason.
I know it’s true because I did it.
I changed my shopping habits.
I now will hold off buying something after 2 or 3 times searching for it. I will look at what outfits I can create with it and if it sits with other things I have.
Will it throw out the balance or sit in perfect harmony.
Will I feel good?
Not only does this mean I wear EVERYTHING in my wardrobe it also saves me money, stops my unwanted item potentially going to landfill and prevents the wasted time returning my impulse purchase!
Mindful shopping. It is the way forward, you heard it here!
If you hadn’t already guessed it, Wardrobe Love and mindful shopping are things I am hugely passionate about, these are topics I talk about a lot on my social media
The next step? take that toe dip….book your Style Taster call and let’s get chatting!
I look forward to hearing your style goals and seeing how we can potentially work together to achieve those (and more!)
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