As some of you may know, I don’t buy new clothes.
I haven’t purchased a single item of new clothing for just over a year now. It’s kinda fun finding all the good stuff in Charity shops, and I have very generous friends who will hand down clothes to me.
Anyway, a lot of people ask me why I made this decision and I think that a lot, if not all, of my friends, think that it is some charming eccentricity I have decided to adopt. It’s difficult to explain these things to people sometimes, especially when they are waggling around in adorable brand new dresses and shoes.
So I thought I’d write a very concise list. Unfortunately, the friends that ask me most frequently will almost certainly not read this post, as they do not read my blog, for the exact reason that they get enough of this crap from me already. Unfortunately for my poor friends (who really just want to buy a tank top without me shaking my head sadly), I am not one to be quiet because other people think that I should be quiet. (Apart from at the Theatre, or at the cinema, or in church, or, at a funeral, or that bit in the sound of music when they’re hiding in the crypt…)
“Is it because it’s sewn by orphans?”
Well, no, actually. As much as the whole sweatshop industry is completely abhorrent, (I actually will not even wear Nike shoes or bags or anything because of the appalling way that they treat their workers) it is not the main motivation for my decision. The Primark scandal – when it was found that the clothing giant exploited young workers in third world countries in order to make their sequinned dresses extra-sequinny – caused an outcry, just as you would expect, but I don’t think that more than a negligible percentage of Primark’s customers abandoned the brand. Because it is so cheap, and so cheerful, that nobody remembered their morals when faced with a super super sequinny dress for the bargain price of what was probably the equivalent of a week’s wages for the child that made it. The point I’m making here is that, yes, sweatshops should not exist, and yes, labour should be fairly and sustainably sourced, but look at the people here in our own country who are actually buying this stuff! The most shocking thing is that these people are buying clothes that they know for a fact have been made in these horrible sweatshops, and they cannot make themselves care, they simply cannot help themselves because they want these clothes so much! …
“Is it because you’re poor and bitter?”
No. I mean, I am poor, and bitter, but still no… I used to be very annoyed that I couldn’t have the designer clothes that other people had, I used to feel very upset and very unfairly treated. But this made me so angry – why should Hollister, or Abercrombie, make me feel bad for not wearing a hoodie with their name on? Why should a random clothing company dictate my emotions? So I decided to stop, and dictate my own emotions and wear my own clothes, without ever having to wish that I was wearing someone elses.
“So… why not just buy these shoes?”
Well, I decided not to buy anything new, it’s eas-
“But.. your shoes have huge holes in the soles…”
It’s not really the point, if I could just expla-
“George, your feet are wet, and, you’ve had that t-shirt since you were twelve“
I know, I know! But the point is, I decided not to buy any new things for two main reasons;
“Oh goodie, tell us again”
Geeeez, imaginary conversational partner, you’re mean. But okay…
Firstly, the whole greed thing that I’ve just mentioned. If people need clothes from Primark more than they need their moral integrity, or if they want Hollister more than they want their parents to not be bankrupt, something is seriously wrong. I don’t believe that the want for material possessions should govern anyone’s life, so I cut it out all together, and now I just don’t worry about it anymore, I don’t need to keep up with fashion because I just don’t buy new clothes. It’s a flawless excuse and it stops me even thinking about it.
Secondly, and primarily, the fashion industry is proven to be indisputably evil. This sounds dramatic, but it’s the only word strong enough to describe how I feel towards the whole affair. I will not financially support an industry which perpetuates damaging and false ideas. The industry, in every aspect from its shops to its clothes to its adverts, aims to make people feel like they are not good enough. Not until they have certain clothes, or certain shoes, or a certain pearly brilliance to their teeth. And even then, with the clothes and the bags and the expensive haircut, they won’t look quite right unless they look like a certain model, or a certain celebrity. This is a problem! It’s an endemic. If affects people. It creates insecurity and jealously and feelings of frustration and sadness, all so that the clothing companies can make more money from their ridiculously inflated margins. This is an industry which hurts people. This is an industry which feeds off materialism and greed and self consciousness, and creates desperate, cold, skinny girls, and worried parents and a whole new department for the mental health services.
Who would want to be associated with that?