It’s New Year’s Resolution time again! But what happens when we ask ourselves to do the impossible?
Would a baker give up bread? Would a secretary give up typing? Would a cyclist swear off lycra?? Surely not.
I’m a Personal Stylist. So what on earth was I thinking when I gave up SHOPPING?
'The Project - Killer Fashion' story
Why would I do this? I’m so glad you asked.
I Met An Eco-Designer
I met an eco-designer who opened my eyes to the dirty underbelly of the fashion world. For me it was a shocking and shifting moment.
About 93% of the garments sold in Australia are made by women who don’t get paid a living wage. Worse still, they’re worked so hard they’ll probably die making them. We wear those clothes once, maybe twice. Stick a pic up on insta and then throw them away. 84% of the new textiles we buy each year go into landfill.
This industry that has the capacity to build confidence, celebrate diversity and challenge the status quo is killing the very people who create it.
The cost is far too high for a $5 t-shirt.
The Cost Of a $5 t-shirt
So I had to stop shopping. I couldn’t continue supporting the mistreatment of women all over the world. I needed time to figure out my space in this community. My language. My intent.
Now I would be what some may call a ‘shopaholic’ buying something new at least once a week. Shopping was my superpower!
My commitment was to stop shopping for an entire year. The first few months were freakin’ horrible! My poor little brain was terribly confused about going to the shops and coming home empty handed.
I started listening to the voices in my head and noticed they had some key phrases on loop.
The word SALE seemed to have an immediate impact on my brain. The voice in my head never read that word quietly. It always screamed ‘SAAAAAAAAALE!!!!’ Then my feet would start walking towards the sale table before I’d even given them permission to change direction. The screaming of the sale word was feverishly followed by the words ‘HURRY! BEFORE THEY’RE ALL GONE!!’
It seemed that the item on sale was inconsequential. In fact, this scenario would play out whether I could see the article for sale or not. And that is why all the sale signs are at the front of the shop. They are the bait. We are the prey.
But my challenges didn’t only exist at the shopping centres. There was a minefield to get through at home too.
Every time there was an event, meeting, television appearance or stage show my brain told me the craziest things. About 2 seconds after the initial excitement wore off, the very next thought was – ‘What am I going to wear?’ followed swiftly by, ‘I don’t have anything to wear!’
It’s the panic that you can feel wash from the tip of your toes to the top of your head.
In that moment I was absolutely convinced that there was nothing in my wardrobe suitable. The voice in my head told me very clearly that I must have something new. Alternatively, the event would be a disaster.
' Nothing To Wear '
After experiencing this feeling time and time again I decided to count the items in my wardrobe. 81 dresses. 18 skirts. 63 tops. That means even if I just wore a different skirt with a different top every day I’d have 1,134 Different Outfits! That’s enough for a different outfit every day for more than 3 Years!
There was definitely quantity in my wardrobe, but very little quality. You see, when your addiction is shopping you care more about getting stuff than getting good stuff. One of the hardest things to do all year was continuously wear the array of poor quality, ill-fitting garments I had in my wardrobe. When you’re constantly buying new things the joy comes from wearing something new and shiny. It doesn’t matter if it’s uncomfortable because you’ll replace it with something else next week.
It’s this throw away mentality that sees the fashion industry where it is.
All year long I’ve still conducted shopping sessions with my clients. I’ve spent the year sharing with them everything I’ve learnt about shopping addiction, and how and where to shop with a clear conscience.
I teach my clients to ‘buy less and wear more’. We talk about quality over quantity, creating a signature style and building capsule wardrobes that are stylish and functional.
I’ve even refused to shop with some clients whose wardrobes are overflowing. Instead we’ve sorted out the clothes they have and identified tons of new outfits they just hadn’t put together yet. We’ve turned the wardrobe they have into their own mini boutique.
I soon realised so many of us are oblivious to where our clothes are made and the impact on people and the planet. So I needed to go one step further. I truly believe that if we knew that our purchases were hurting people we would choose differently. So I petitioned the Australian Federal Government for compulsory ethical labeling on every fashion article sold in this country. A visual indicator of the level of harm the making of the item had on people, animals and the planet. A way to give the consumer the right to choose.
The petition was accepted. My Federal MP will present it into Parliament early in 2018. It will go into Hansard and be on national record that people in this country care about who makes their clothes.
There’s only two more days left in my year of no shopping. But there’s still such a long way to go for the fashion industry.
In many ways the last few weeks have been the hardest. But I know this. Now I rule my shopping addiction, it doesn’t rule me. I can’t shop the way I used to and I never will again.
My new wardrobe will be purposeful. It will have fewer clothes. Better clothes. Ethically made clothes. I will think more about my personal brand than my need for stuff. I will think more about the person who made my clothes. Their life making fashion should be as glamorous and delightful as my life wearing it.