Why are we so obsessed with fast fashion?
‘Fast fashion’ in case you aren’t aware of the term, means stores like H&M, Jacob, Zara, Dynamite, Smart Set, and Forever 21 to name a few examples where you can buy trendy, super cheap clothing.
YOUR FUNDS MAY BE LIMITED
This was the case when I was young and when I didn’t have money, fast fashion was the way to go. Who at the age of 16, has money for a high-quality blouse at even $50 when you can buy something similar for $20?
Same goes with shoes.
Who can afford real leather boots or high quality ones to boot? Then you have to be careful with them and take care of them, which doesn’t really cross your mind when you’re young.
YOU JUST WANT A QUICK UPDATE TO YOUR WARDROBE
However as you get older, sometimes you just want new piece to “update” your wardrobe but without spending a lot.
On style blogs I see plenty of requests like:
Can you please help me find a _____ for everyday use. My limit is $50, but since it seems like a trendier item, anything cheaper would be ideal.
When I read that, I think — “But if it’s trendy, do you ever think about how long you will use said item?”
What if you found it for $20? It’s still $20 wasted in my opinion because you may only have this purse with your outfit two maybe even up to twenty times, and the cost-per-wear ends up being $10 – $1 each time, then you toss it.
In contrast, a nice, classic bag can be worn with an outfit plenty of times over the years and the cost-per-use or cost-per-wear goes down to fractions of pennies.
$1 to me, is still $1.
CHEAP ITEMS NEVER LAST
I know this is common sense but cheap clothing never lasts, but that’s also not to say that anything that costs a lot of money or has a designer label on it lasts longer or is actually all that stylish.
All the times I have ever paid for anything (even up to $75 for something that was from a “fast fashion” store), it has never stood the test of time, but then again, if we’re all looking for quick wardrobe updates and fast fashion fixes, maybe lasting more than 20 times is asking for too much.
After a wash or two, the fabric pills, stretches, fades, and generally looks completely worn out and used even though I haven’t worn it all that much.
This perpetuated the cycle of my thinking: OMG my clothing looks AWFUL… and then I ran out to buy newer, nicer looking pieces which ended up looking trashed after a month or three.
When I realized that I basically had a closet full of crappy clothing that I didn’t want to wear, I did a quick mental tally of how much I spent and realized I could have just purchased a few really nice pieces that I would be wearing and would continue to wear for years to come.
It really doesn’t matter what I bought — if it was a ‘fast fashion’ piece, it looked awful in a short amount of time, be it a “wool”-like coat that only had 5% of actual wool in it, or “silk”-style blouses that were really made out of polyester.
For footwear, I bought many plastic faux leather boots that were ruined after a year or two of wearing them normally, and it got to the point where the “leather” peeled off to reveal the plastic underneath.
Jewellery? Same thing. After a while the brass would be revealed underneath my cheap rings and necklaces which in some cases gave it a cool look, and in others, looked awful.
CRAVING A TREND VERSUS SHOPPING MINDLESSLY
It is one thing to crave a trend or a classic piece, it is another to shop mindlessly.
I did a lot of this shopping mindlessly when I went into stores. I’d be suckered into a store because of any of the following:
- Ooo new things I have not seen before!
- OMG! A sale!
- I feel like a new blouse….
Once I was in the store, it would be hard for me to leave without trying something on, which we all know is the gateway to then purchasing said item.
As for craving a trend, I can’t say I really fell prey to this because I have never really followed trends slavishly until it becomes a trend that I could see myself wearing in the long-term as a classic piece.
Examples of style trends I avoided and still avoid to this day:
- Harem pants (no one looks good in MC Hammer diaper pants)
- Super short/tight anything
- Neon-coloured anything
- Chunky/Clunky shoes
- Shoes that are boots or “shboots” which I think are just hideous
- Anything grunge or very over-sized (it makes me feel and look sloppy)
Examples of style trends that eventually made it to my ‘classic’ list:
- Skinny jeans / pants (I resisted for so long!)
- Leather details on things like sleeves or a trim on a pair of pants
- Maxi and Midi dresses (even though I don’t own any, I would consider wearing one once in a while)
FASHION TRENDS RECYCLE THEMSELVES EVERY OTHER DECADE OR SO
Do we really need to be on-trend all the time?
Why can’t we consider trends and then incorporate them if they are good ones into our long-term wardrobes?
Why do we always have to change up and have different items to update our looks each season?
The retail seasons have gotten shorter and shorter, and it seems like styles are changing every 3 months.
Who has all the money not to mention the time to keep up with these trends?
Deep down, we realize it’s a ploy to get us to spend more money while making us feel constantly dissatisfied to boot, but we still follow these trends to a T.
Generally speaking I am not immune to trends but I do watch and wait when I see a trend appear. In some years for instance, pastel colours and florals were in. I look sick and feel rather hideous in pastel-anything, so I skipped this “trend” because it didn’t work for me.
Another year, leather and the kind of rocker look was in which I took some elements of and incorporated into my wardrobe, thinking about it for the long-term. I didn’t go ALL OUT with this trend but I did like a piece that had leather sleeves with a jersey knit which I thought was a good piece to wear now, and far into the future.
In 2013, grunge was back in full swing and I distinctly remember this being a thing in the 1990s.
In 2014, leg warmers were apparently in vogue (as is the ballet-dancer style), but that look already had its moment in the 80s!
Everything recycles and repeats, but it doesn’t mean that we should jump to its beat; heck even in the 1990s I was NOT board with grunge and never liked the trend, and even though it came back around in 2013, I didn’t bother with it and left it where it was.
WHY ARE WE SO BORED WITH EVERYTHING THE MINUTE WE GET IT?
When will it ever be enough?
It feels so wasteful to buy a new t-shirt every 2 weeks and discard the rest (or avoid wearing them), even if it makes you happy.
Why are we so bored with everything that we have the minute we get it?
Maybe the lack of anticipation or gratification of buying said item is what contributes to our boredom and kind of attention deficit disorder (ADD) we have as part of our shopping psyche.
REALIZING I DON’T ACTUALLY NEED TO OWN EVERY ITEM I DON’T OWN
One of my problems is wanting to have a lot of variety in the same types or pieces that I enjoy wearing.
My weakness lies in wrap dresses. I have PLENTY of them, but every time I see a new pattern, colour, style or [insert whatever you want here], I feel the need to collect it so that I have ALL the green dresses in ALL the patterns and styles you could imagine.
This has been (and still is) the hardest part to reconcile in my shopping self. I have had to walk by Banana Republic many a time (especially during 2014) and tell myself:
You do not need another black and white patterned dress. You have plenty, at least 2!
You do not need (yet another) striped dress. You have at least 4 in different, not to mention distinct styles and fabrics!
It can be hard to hold the Collector-side of myself back, but this is why I document all my clothing in photos on my iPod Touch, then I have the photos on Picasa. It’s a bit ‘Clueless‘-style a la Cher Horowitz.
- Read: (This is an old post but..) — What I own in my wardrobe and how much it all costs
PIECES THAT LAST A LONG TIME ARE WORTH WAITING AND SAVING FOR
The bottom line is that if you have wanted a Chanel purse for a long time, it is worth waiting and saving up for it, so that when you actually buy the purse the months, sometimes years of anticipation of having such a wonderful piece in your possession makes it all the more worthwhile.
Buying a knockoff whether it is fake or a similar high-street copy is like eating fake sugar or those yoghurt cups with clever names like “Strawberry Cheesecake” when your body is craving real sugar, and a REAL piece of cheesecake, and trying to tell yourself you’re satisfied.
You will just eat more fake sugar or fake yoghurt dessert cups and never feel like you’ve satisfied your craving.
Your closet will just fill up with these cheap knockoffs of low quality, and one day (like me) you will open your wardrobe and think:
Wow. I spent over a thousand bucks of my hard earned money on crappy clothing that I don’t even want to wear.
Why didn’t I just save my money and buy a few great pieces that I will pull out again and again to wear?
Our obsession with fast fashion ruins this for many of us because it’s so cheap to replenish your wardrobe with brand new, cool pieces at the time even if it makes no sense over the long-term.
In hindsight I am now buying more vintage / retro pieces because they were better made, but also because they still seem to look like classic pieces that can stand the test of time no matter what age they were made in.
All they need in some cases, is a little rework (lengthening the sleeves with a ribbed cuff), or adding straps in another colour to update it.
HOW MANY PIECES OF CLOTHING DO YOU REALLY NEED?
This is a question I struggle with because my other problem lies in the fact that I treat clothing as a beautiful collection (as I briefly mentioned above), and it is all about the pleasure I do gain from having nice things.
Clothing is more than just function for me.
It is more than just putting on a blouse that matches with a pair of pants and going out the door.
I truly care and derive great pleasure from wearing interesting and nice outfits (coordinating and so on), and I doubt this will ever change even as I age.
As a result, I like having a wide breadth of choice and even if I have a unique or fun piece that I don’t consider a basic staple in my wardrobe, it doesn’t mean I want to get rid of it because there are days when I will feel: I want to wear this, it will make me smile or it matches my mood today, and I’ll tug it out of the wardrobe.
That said, I now want quality pieces that I can wear even until the age of 60 or older, and I am becoming pickier and pickier about what I buy as a result, even if I do end up spending more money or waiting longer and saving for something I really want.
SO WHY ARE WE SO OBSESSED WITH FAST FASHION?
WHEN WILL IT EVER BE ENOUGH FOR US?