I used to be a big shopper.
When I was a university student, I would buy something new every month. Every month! I had just gotten into fashion – I was in fact a fashion student – and all I wanted was to Find My Style. Which I thought could only be achieved by “trying” (ie, buying) as much as I possibly could. Oh how wrong I was. But more on that later.
As I would rather buy a new top that I in no way needed every month instead of saving that amount and buying one nice, high-quality item at the end of the year (how boring), I quickly amassed heaps of nondescript, cheap crap. When sifting through it all, years later, I was amazed at how, and most importantly why, all those things had found their way into my wardrobe. Those things weren’t significant to my style. They weren’t significant to anyone’s style. They were anonymous, soulless, and completely unnecessary.
When I went vegan, I got into the habit of thinking of others first and myself second when shopping: did animals have to suffer and die for whatever I was buying? I left a gorgeous pale-pink biker jacket on the shelf because it was made of lambskin. I stopped going to my favourite makeup shop in favour of the organic store where I could find vegan cosmetics. And I also started learning more about how, and by whom, my clothes were made.
The conversation about ethical shopping had just began when I transitioned to veganism. Firstly I was inspired. Then, once I saw the price tag, I was discouraged. And lastly, after reading things like this and this (seriously, read them. Two of the best things I have ever read), I came to a conclusion: as far as I was concerned, my contribution to the ethical fashion movement would be to Shop Less.
I wanted each piece in my closet to mean something to me. I wanted to wear my clothes for up to a decade, and I wanted to do so without spending more than I currently was. I wanted to have two handbags rather than ten, eight of which were a little bit broken here and there. And speaking of broken, I no longer wanted to throw stuff away when it broke. I wanted to first try to see if I could fix it, and keep wearing it! I wanted to create memories with my clothes, and to keep thinking of new outfits with them, over and over again, discovering new combinations after years.
I went into 2017 with one rule: everything I bought with my own money had to either be from an ethical label, or second hand. And, as always, everything had to be vegan.
As we move towards the end of 2017, I have bought the following:
- Two tops from Zara’s organic-cotton Join Life collection, each at the cost of £8
- A top from Oxfam’s charity shop, at the amazing cost of £3
- A pair of water-based-polyester gloves from H&M Conscious Collection, at the cost of £8
Disclaimer: I sometimes get gifted clothes, so the above is not the total amount of new clothing that came into my wardrobe this year, but this is everything I used my own money to buy.
A note on big chains: I wholeheartedly support, and always will support, big chains’ sustainable ventures. In fact, I am their biggest cheerleader. To me it is a similar conversation to the one that happens when we discuss cruelty-free beauty companies that are owned by non-CF parent companies. We should support them! Nothing sends a stronger message to the parent company that ethics = sales. And sales, let’s face it, are all the top concern for any money-making corporation.
What have I learned?
This year, I learned a lot about what I want my personal style to be (tip: if you haven’t yet, read The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees! An amazing tool in building your capsule wardrobe) and what I need to get there. I also learned how to be creative with what is already in my wardrobe, and how to shop for things that will last. I bought three tops this year, because I had very few tops for summer. I had jeans, shorts and skirts but nothing to wear them with. So I chose tops in neutral colours and with a good fit, to go with everything I already had. And I used them constantly. I bought gloves because I lost mine – simple. I chose neutral black, with no detailing, because that way it is a no-brainer to slip them on with any of my winter coats and faux furs. When colder days rolled around, I brought out that winter coat that I’ve written about here, and simply changed all its buttons. I sponge-cleaned it, vapour-cleaned it, and now I’m wearing it all the time. It’s from 2010, Zara, and cost 149€. And it will still be in my wardrobe next winter. When my shoes break (which is quite frequently), I get new soles and have them fixed rather than buy new ones. And when the time will come to buy new ones, I will choose well.
I will continue my new shopping habits into 2018 and beyond – hoping that my purchases will last, inspire, and help me be creative for many years to come.
This month I am reading… The Break by Marian Keyes
This month I am watching… Christmas classics like Love Actually, The Holiday and Elf
This month I am listening to… I just discovered that Bad Religion have a Christmas album, which made me excited like a kid on Christmas morning
This month I am planning… to travel to Sweden for my mum’s 60th birthday!
For more from the editor of Vilda, follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @saschacamilli
Photos by STIL via Unsplash