Updated: Jul 16, 2019
No longer can we shop with guilt-free wild abandonment.
Our purchases now should be responsible, mindful and ethical.
Will shopping ever be joyful again?
I have twin nine year-old daughters who, when let loose in Primark, become almost hysterical. Armed with birthday money and the determination to find the best outfit before her sister, the visit quickly descends into a frenzied attack on the store.
They are blown away with the volume of 'stuff' they can get for a relatively small amount of money and little thought is given to whether they really like it.
I get it. At their age, and until around 15 years ago in fact, I would have done the same.
But I have changed the way I think about purchasing.
I am a grown up now and I cant ignore the statistic that (according to the Global Fashion Agenda 2017) living wages remain an impossible dream for most garment workers in India and the Philippines where many of our 'fast fashion' items are made.
I have become increasingly disenthralled with the 'fashion hauler’ mentality. Fashion haul videos can be big business and the number of them on youtube is increasing all the time.
These are often videos of young people who have bought a 'haul' of cheap clothes/make-up/shoes and they describe their purchases in detail online, as if to a best friend.
The items are often viewed as disposable.
Perhaps, some of husband's buying habits have influenced me (although I would never admit it to him!). I spent years nagging him to buy new clothes, but he sticks to his guns and only shops when he really needs something or an item is ‘worn out’ through use. He only wants a few good quality and versatile items in his wardrobe.
This certainly is not a new idea. In fact, the term 'capsule wardrobe' was coined in the 1970's by Susie Faux, owner of London's fashion boutique 'Wardrobe'.
30 wears is another well thought out campaign which was started by Livia Firth and it is about asking yourself the simple question 'will I wear this at least 30 times?' before you buy a piece of clothing. If the answer is no, put it back.
Without knowing that it was a 'thing', I started to base my purchasing decisions on how much the item would cost me per wear. If the cost per wear was high - was it worth it?
I have since discovered that this is called the 'cost per wear' method.
When you give this method thought, you soon realise that it is usually the quality items that you the most value for money from.
Glamour has created their own cost 'per wear calculator' to help with the 'shall I buy that?' question. Their algorithm even takes into account how many seasons during the year you'll realistically use your new item.
I worked out that the cost per wear for my Alder work bag is only 54p!
This is based on the fact that I use it for work 3 to 4 times a week (approx 182 per year) and that I will use it for 4 years*.
*this is a conservative number Alder products all come with a traditional lifetime guarantee.
Finally! a completely guilt free purchase.
When I knew that I wanted to design quality leather laptop bags for women, it was important to me that they were made in Britain. I wanted to be able to meet the people that make the products.
I want Alder to be known as a supplier of quality and ethical leather products. The leather we use is ethically sourced and all components are sourced from the UK.
I have a beautiful dress in my wardrobe that I bought in a sale last year. It cost £175 and I bought it 'incase'. Perhaps I would randomly be invited to the Bafta's? Perhaps a black tie do would present itself at short notice! who knows?
Needless to say I haven’t worn it.
If I had considered the cost per wear method I would never have bought the dress and wouldn't have to feel guilty every time I see it hanging there uselessly in the wardrobe.
So the good news is that there still CAN be joy in buying something new and, when done well, it can be the gift that keeps on giving!
P.S If anyone is looking for a plus 1 for a black tie party let me know, I have a dress that needs wearing!
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