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6 In fashion/ sustainable / local fashion

why I won’t be using ‘must haves’ in a fashion post ever again

So, hands up who saw a flurry of tweets and stories and online buzz about Stacey Dooley’s ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ documentary, hit up iPlayer, and were open mouthed in shock about just how bad the impact of the fashion industry on the environment really is? 

My hand is raised. 

Realising that entire seas have dried up, health crises have started, ecosystems have been destroyed (and so much more) as a result of our appetite for fast fashion has been quite scary.  It’s eye opening to see how many high street brands are unwilling to be open about their supply chains and obviously have something to hide.  It’s ridiculous how easily duped we are by imagery and marketing presenting products as ‘clean’ and ‘fresh’ when in actual fact they’re toxic and wasteful.  If you haven’t watched it yet, that’s your next TV hour sorted. 

Often these things are merely a flash in the pan, a talking (tweeting) point for a week or so, and quickly forgotten about when some other drama crops up, but when it’s irreparable damage to our planet that we’re talking about… then the problem doesn’t really disappear overnight.  It’d be rather Trump-esque to deny the issue completely, after all.  I forsee many a contradiction in the near future whilst the shock of the documentary is fresh and the guilt feels real,but bills have gotta be paid and new clothes are just as enticing.  I’m pretty sure I speak for most of us when I say that I’m not going to cease buying new clothes altogether, or that I’ll never buy a ‘trend’ item again.  Here I am with an oh-so-AW18 midi skirt, after all – and well aware of the irony of using these photos to accompany this topic.   Just this week bloggers have shared their shock online and promised to change their shopping habits, only to post about the ‘new in must haves’ the next day.  An insult to the intelligence, don’t you think? Whilst this post sat 70% written in a Word document, Chloe hit the nail on the head with her words on performative online outrage; in summary, people profess to care about what they ‘should’ care about, before promptly forgetting.  True.  The Internet is just so fake.

However, I do think (hope) that this time round, real change might ensue. Hopefully huge hauls will begin to seem a little crass, and titles such as ‘5 items you NEED this Autumn’ (guilty as charged) will seem insensitive.   There’s been a noticeable shift in fashion blogging/social media recently and I’m sure you’ve read several blog posts about trying to be more sustainable already.  ‘New new new’ has a slightly bitter taste, right?  The change in attitude is hopefully here to stay, but obviously those who make their living from sharing fast fashion online aren’t suddenly going to stop, and your average gal who likes browsing the ASOS app isn’t going to decide she already owns everything she could possibly need either.   One documentary can’t change the nation’s shopping habits, or the entire influencer marketing sphere.

The easiest action going forward is to just be ignorant of the issue and carry on business as usual.  It’s unrealistic to expect to suddenly stop buying new clothes from anywhere but expensive, 100% sustainable brands, after all.  The answer isn’t to spend a fortune on ‘investment pieces’ from 100% eco brands either – an item doesn’t need to have cost hundreds to be worn year after year, despite what some influencers would have you believe.   Some Primark pieces are worn a couple of times before holes appear and they fall apart at the seams (the phrase ‘built in obsolescence’ from GCSE textiles springs to mind), and some last for bloody ages.  Not everybody can afford (or wishes to) spend hundreds on items just so that they’re guaranteed to last.  The most realistic plan is to be somewhere in between, because carrying on in blissful ignorance just seems wrong.

I can’t claim to live a particularly sustainable life, but my shopping habits aren’t the worst, so I think it’s a mindset I’ll genuinely stick to as the changes won’t be too dramatic.  Huge online shopping orders aren’t really my thing, nor do spend every Saturday filling bags and bags on the high street, and I already wear lots of items I’ve had for years.  I’m not joking when I say I still wear clothes I’ve had since I was twelve!  Many of my favourite items have been charity shop purposes and I’ve always been pretty thrifty.  There are lots of handmade clothes in my wardrobe too, (although I’m aware that doesn’t make clothes suddenly eco-friendly as the yarns still have to be manufactured and dyed in the first place, it just takes one step out of the process).  I don’t exactly have the funds (or inclination) to be hauling loads every week and that’s fine with me – plenty other things I’d rather spend my money on, after all.  I’ve been lucky enough to work with quite a number of clothing brands over my 5 years of blogging and that’s obviously contributed to topping my wardrobe up, but not to a crazy extent.  Mr Postman doesn’t knock on my door with new unrequested parcels every day like many bloggers receive, that’s for sure.  As for clothes that I do finally decide to part ways with, they’re either given away, donated to charity, or recycled – never thrown away.

However, my habits aren’t the best either.  Far from it.  I do like new pieces as much as the next person and can’t deny I like a wardrobe update every now and then.  Some trends pass me by (ugly Balenciaga-esque trainers and their cheap high street copies, I’m looking at you) and some I fall hook line and sinker for.  I certainly wouldn’t claim to be trend-led or fashion-forward, but I’ll admit that sometimes I’m a trend whore and jump rather enthusiastically onto bandwagons only to fall off a wee while later.  There are several reasons I wanted to cut down on new additions to my wardrobe – firstly (and selfishly), I just don’t have an awful lot more space to store any.  I’ve learnt my lesson not to cram rails too full or they will collapse on you and fixing them back together is rather annoying. My chest of drawers is already rather crammed and my box of knitwear is ahem… well stuffed.  Obviously storage logistics are nothing in comparison to contributing to the environmental issues though.  I’ve naturally (and unintentionally) cut down on fast fashion quite a bit over the last few months anyway, but am going to make a conscious effort to do so even more from here on out, only adding the odd item here and there.

One thing I do vow to do is only add select items that I’ll definitely wear.  I won’t be the most up to date ‘fashion blogger’ but when was I ever, eh?

Case in point: flowy midi skirts.  I’ve been cooing over midi skirts for a while and feel like they’re perfect for my style, so if one item could update my wardrobe, that would be it.  I’ve been tempted by the leopard print versions that are in every shop under the sun right now, but hadn’t found The One that felt perfect for me, and a trend-led item isn’t exactly something I want to splurge on in order to find it.  I still fancied a piece of the floaty midi action though because I think it’s something I’ll genuinely get lots of wear out of, so when I spotted this Zara skirt for a measly £6 in TK Maxx I was a happy gal.  Not leopard print so not as obviously ‘OMG Autumn 2018 the time everybodyyyy wore leopard print skirts’, but not too far removed.  A midi skirt that I’ll wear with jumpers and boots for a Monday morning trip to B&Q and my nan’s house, with big cosy knits and thermal tights when it’s positively frigid, and probably with a lil’ cropped top and trainers next Summer too.  So that’s one carefully chosen new item in my wardrobe.  There won’t be many, so I’ll try to make each one a good’en. 

Oh and I shall never title a blog post ‘the XXXX you need in your life’ again because well, I don’t need it and neither do you.

Lily Kate x

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  • Reply
    21st October 2018 at 10:45 am

    I agree with you that it’s unrealistic for people to compltely stop buying new clothes, bags and shoes because, well, they do get worn out. Womens fashion in particular is never made with quality in mind (to keep us buying more and more every season obviously) and it’s one of the reasons I always check for quality first now. The number of times in the past I have bought things only for them to last just a few washes has pissed me off more and more as i’ve gotten older so for me it’s been a gradual change and understanding of how the industry works.
    I have a few ways to keep my wardrobe reasonably sized;
    Donate one thing and then buy another so it’s a trade off.
    Making sure I don’t already have the same style of item in my wardrobe at home
    Browsing and putting items in my wishlist or basket is great but only buying an item you actually need
    Shopping around for similar styles from cheaper shops is easy online
    Putting most of your paycheck into your savings account only keeping what you need for bills and expenses so you have a makeshift ‘budget’ This one has helped me the most lol.
    And lastly, something I overheard from a shopper in a busy high street at New Years sales a few years ago was ‘It’s only a bargain if you need it’ and she was absolutely right.

    • Reply
      lily kate
      16th April 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Exactly – there’s no point pledging to be a saint and never buy anything ever again! And clothes do get damaged/wear out/break, so sometimes you will genuinely need a replacement.

      I’ve started doing the same with shifting money into another account – money doesn’t tend to burn a hole in my pocket but it would be more tempting to spend if it wasn’t transferred into savings straight away.

      The shopper you overheard was so right – a bargain can seem like such a good idea, even if you’d never have even looked at the item full price!

  • Reply
    22nd October 2018 at 2:58 pm

    I am definitely going to have to watch that documentary. Over a year ago, I watched “The True Cost” and made the decision to buy only second hand or ethically made clothes. I realized that I have enough clothes already that I rarely “need” something and I love thrifting. A couple months ago I bought my first new pair of pants (ethically made) and it was a great feeling to have waited, saved up, and really thought about my purchase. Thanks for posting about this and good luck with your process of being more thoughtful about purchases.

    • Reply
      lily kate
      16th April 2019 at 4:54 pm

      I can’t recommend it enough! The True Cost is next on my list. Some of my favourite items in my wardrobe are thrifted – there really is nothing wrong with buying second hand and I hope more people embrace it from now on. Wearing something you’ve thought carefully about and invested in a sustainable brand feels good doesn’t it?

  • Reply
    25th October 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Ugh I love this Lily Kate. I agree with you that a balance of some sort is what is needed. I definitely want to do more when it comes to fast fashion and just taking care of the environment in general. I think if we all just took baby steps, we would get somewhere. As they say, drops of water maketh the mighty ocean. Funny enough that you mentioned Chloe’s post, that’s the next one on my queue! xx
    Coco Bella Blog

    • Reply
      lily kate
      16th April 2019 at 4:52 pm

      Thank you so much Demilade! I read recently ‘we don’t need one person doing everything perfectly, we need millions of people doing everything imperfectly’ and that just sums it up perfectly. Fast fashion has just really lost its appeal for me, and I think many others are in the same boat these days!

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