In september 2016, one year ago, I decided I would only buy clothes that were made in an ethical and sustainable way. Twelve months seemed like a very long time to go back then, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold on, but now I feel like I’ve always lived like this. And I sure ain’t going back to my old ways. I don’t feel like browsing hundreds of colourful pages on Asos, and I practically get a panic attack just thinking about stepping foot into a Zara. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been tough to resist the urge to buy something cute I’d seen on someone else (hashtag Instagram made me do it), but mostly I managed to stay focus and reasonable.
I counted it all: in those 12 months, I’ve bought 21 items:
- 1 pair of black Everlane cropped pants
- 1 pair of white Everlane cropped wide leg jeans
- 1 pair of pants from Finery
- 1 pair of Sézane jeans
- 1 pair of black Everlane jeans
- 1 pair of Monki jeans in organic cotton
- 3 Everlane T-shirts
- 2 Everlane sweaters
- 1 Finery dress
- 1 pair of Sézane loafers
- 1 pair of Veja sneakers
- 1 pair of second hand red mules
- 1 pair of flat mules by Matt & Nat
- 1 pair of Everlane’s Day Heels
- 1 Kozha Numbers handbag
- 1 Jean Jullien x Stereo Vinyls coat
- 1 Nanuska jean jacket
- 1 pair of earrings by PDPaola
It’s not something I had planned in advance, my goal for this first year was mostly to avoid fast fashion brands. But I gotta say, 21 sounds pretty okay to me, especially when I compare it to what I used to buy.
Obviously, most of these pieces cost more than their fast fashion equivalent, but that’s the game. Quality has a certain price, and as a consumer, I’m the one who should be bearing it. It’s the price to pay to say no to compromise on the work conditions of the people who make my clothes.
Okay. You’ve probably seen in the list that I got jeans at Monki. Jeans that I wear a lot, often, everywhere, all the time. Because they fit me like a very comfortable and good looking glove. When I ordered them, I thought I would feel okay about it, because they were made of organic cotton. But to be honest, I feel very guilty every time I read “Made in Bangladesh” on the label inside. Even though Monki is far from being among the worst brands out there, this purchase looks bad on my list and that’s really a pity. But as frustrating and shameful as it is, I really wanted to be honest about it with you. Mistakes happen, everyone’s just doing their best. Right?
Anyway. There was only one big splurge: the Jean Jullien coat. But after all, it’s a piece of clothing AND a piece of art, so I guess that’s alright. And apart from that, I was very reasonable, and I’m pretty satisfied with my performance.
The items I bought are all very qualitative basics, who won’t go out of style any time soon. They are now the basis of my wardrobe and are all on rotation pretty much all the time.
One exception: the Sézane jeans. I love them, but I should have gotten them one size bigger: I thought the would stretch, but they are slightly too tight for my big hips, which makes them not really comfortable to wear. Hit me up if you’d like to but them! I make you good price.
So, what now?
Well, I’ve been thinking about it and even though I don’t want to turn shopping into a chore, I concluded it would be a good idea to have a few clear goals:
- Buy even less, maybe with the help of a few ground rules. 10 items max, for example, or a maximum total budget. Or by making a list of what I “need” – nalright, let’s be clear on this: I don’t need anything, I’m fine. The idea is just to avoid impulsive, useless, I-spent-too-much-time-on-Pinterest purchases and go for essentials that I’ll wear often.
- Discover even more new brands, and more local ones. Because this year, I kind of got trapped in the Everlane vortex, but that wasn’t really the idea.
- Try to turn more systematically to second hand, which remains the most sustainable option, and a great way to score quality pieces for a reasonable price.