It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution or a spending-ban challenge, but a decision that I’ve flirted with for many years. As today marks the first international Fashion Revolution Day, I thought it was time to open up and talk about this self-imposed ban, and publish a post I began writing over three months ago.
I first started shopping at Primark when I left home for university. I’d never heard of the fast-fashion budget chain before, but with a dwindling bank account – a student loan can only pay for so many haircuts and trips to the pub – I ventured in, guided by my new flatmates.
Seven years later and I found myself relying on Primark to get my fashion fix whenever I needed a new pair of jeans or a summer dress. I watched programmes highlighting the shocking working conditions enforced by supply chain manufacturers and would swear off shopping there for a few weeks, but I’d always come back.
After Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza disaster (a year ago today) that saw over a thousand labourers die when the factory collapsed, I knew something in my shopping habits had to change. This, compounded with blogging for Oxfam Fashion and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I own (two wardrobes, one rail, a chest of drawers and counting…) led me to cutting Primark out of my life for good.
I thought I would miss the thrill that only finding a bargain can bring – be it a cheap t-shirt or scouring the reduced shelf in the supermarket and finding the exact ingredient you need at half the price. As it happens, I don’t miss it at all. Buying something that has a history or where the design and production of which has been clearly thought out is far more rewarding than any pair of £4 sandals.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love shopping on the high street, in addition to rummaging through charity shops and vintage boutiques, but I feel so much better knowing that I’m slowly withdrawing from brands that offer clothing at prices that are simply too good to be true.
There is a long way to go before I can honestly say that my shopping habits aren’t hurting anyone else, but this sense of mindfulness towards the fast-fashion feeding chain keeps me from absconding whenever I go looking for a bargain.
This is a topic I’ve shied away from talking about but I’d love to hear your thoughts – how do you feel about buying fast fashion, and would you ever consider a similar clothing ban?