Two weekends ago I visited Bordeaux with a girlfriend of mine from London. She was in dire need of an escape from the taxing city life and I needed to know that the world was still spinning outside of my little town where not much happens.
As we got lost around the city on the second day, we had happened on top of the hillside of one of the main high streets in the city. From there, as far as the eye could see there was a sea of heads quickly moving from one shop to another. There was such constant movement and chaos that if I didn’t know any better I would have said some sort of incident had taken place. As we waded our ways through the crowded streets and shops, I was taken aback by the rampage that was consumerism. There were clothes everywhere, nothing was on sale, yet people were still intoxicated by it all. After all, the price for a simple pair of blue jeans—though not of the best quality—was still cheaper than a meal.
I suppose I was so stunned by everything because I no longer shop from brick and mortar stores, with the exception of vintage stores. So, I don’t physically see how cheap clothes make us look like greedy monsters. Because of fast fashion and the sale phenomenon, consumers have developed a bargain psyche as opposed to a quality-focused one when it comes to clothing and fashion. No one ever really ever speaks about how much they appreciate the quality in a garment or product anymore, but rather the price they pay for it. Life in general has gotten more expensive and if it hasn’t for some, I feel we live in an era where we feel pressured to spend in order to survive when we truly don’t need it. Therefore, I could understand from a budgeting/ economic perspective where bargaining for the cheapest price seems necessary.
But in the long run, cheap prices come at a high cost. This cost includes environmental waste and pollution, and poor working and living conditions for garment workers. How is it that no matter how much we know of this reality, it doesn’t seem to affect our behaviour? In fact, fast fashion brands are some of the most highly profitable ones right now.
If you had asked me six years ago if I believed luxury products were worth the prices asked, I would have said no without hesitation. Even today, there is a part of me that still believes they are savagely overpriced, especially when they go on sale for ridiculously low prices at the end of the season. But something in me always feel a bit better knowing I’m 100% cognizant of my actions and their repercussions. I am not saying you must break the bank and try to get designer items every time you go shopping, neither am I shaming those who may have direr financial responsibilities and truly can’t afford to look at the bigger picture.
But we actively need to change the way how we interpret these choices and act towards them. If you know you got something from a fast fashion store at a bargain price, try your best not to brag too much about it. You fuel the energy that makes everyone think craftsmanship has no value and it’s okay to look good at the expense of someone else’s well-being. I know cheap fast fashion brings a special impulsive high that even I sometimes crave but try to resist.
Then there is the outlook that if someone buys something designer that person is stupid. But in this day and age where most luxury houses are turning out up to six new collections a year and a pair of YSL shoes on sale at the outlet costs the same as a pair of shoes by ZARA, it reeks of ignorance. There are authentic deals everywhere, which have come about as a result of fast fashion itself.
Lastly, we have developed a culture where we shame others for wearing the same thing twice, buying secondhand, used clothing and accepting used clothing in general. DJs at parties always put women in jam when they ask them to raise their hands if they have on their own clothes and sure it’s just probably satire and entertainment, but we need to make sure that the attitude doesn’t develop into a shaming game.