It was less of a ripple and more of an earthquake that was caused by the screening of the BBC Documentary Fashions Dirty Secrets last year. Stacey Dooley’s exposé investigated the true cost of our obsession with new clothes, revealing that the fashion industry is the most polluting in the world, second only to oil. Suddenly my Instagram feed was full of bloggers vowing to buy less and conquer their addiction to ‘retail therapy’, but sadly I have since seen little change in buying habits, as the seductive lure of the latest trends at throwaway prices work their magic on us - myself included.
Fast-fashion has become an industry catchphrase in recent years, but one with very negative connotations. Retail behemoths such as Zara and H&M copy high-fashion looks, getting them straight off the catwalk and into stores sometimes -seemingly - within mere minutes! The clothes are priced cheaply, encouraging the wear once mentality that contributes to the swelling clothes mountains around the world.
The sheer accessibility of these runway looks at bargain prices, coupled with the meteoric rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, with its explosion of influencers wearing a different outfit in each artfully curated post, has resulted in new heights of Western consumerism, bringing with it devastating global consequences.
I am constantly fighting the pressure to wear new clothes and keep things ‘fresh’ on my Instagram grid (@MirandaHolderLDN). It is my job to keep up with the latest trends and inspire my followers on how to wear them, but I feel more than uncomfortable with the notion that I too might be contributing to this growing appetite for throwaway fashion, which is why I focus on investment purchasing and coaching people to buy less.
Below are a few of my simple tips, making clothes shopping more sustainable but no less fun:
When shopping purchase an item that you can style in at least 5 different ways. Make sure all the clothes you have at home earn their hanging space by working well with each other, ensuring they fit you properly, making daily dressing effortless.
This may sound obvious, but we all get seduced by the buzz of the buy. Take a photo of yourself in the garment, then give yourself a cooling off period. Go for lunch or coffee and mull it over - do you actually need it? How well does it work with the rest of your collection?
Spend more money on items that could last a lifetime rather than a season. Rather than buying 6 high-fashion coats in a year that will ultimately end up in the charity shop to make way for next seasons trends, invest instead in one, exquisitely made, beautifully structured coat that makes you feel like a million dollars. Stick to a classic style and it will last forever. It could even become an heirloom.
The 80/20 rule
Trends come and go, and if this is how you shop, so will your clothes. Focus on investment pieces which all combine together to make a beautiful capsule wardrobe, and then have fun with the remaining 20%, buying inexpensive trend-led items that can be mixed in and out to keep your basics fresh.
Know your colours
Colour analysis can seem very outdated these days, but discovering which season you are can be an invaluable tool. Not only will you learn which tones make your skin glow, but it will streamline your shopping experience, and consequently your wardrobe, which is why I offer this service for every client. For example, I suit Autumnal tones so sticking with the 80/20 rule again, I ensure that most of my wardrobe is from this colour palette. Not only does this enable me to whip through the shops with a laser-focus as I am discounting most of the goods, it also means that everything coordinates perfectly, providing endless styling options. I then reserve the final 20% for bright pops of colour that will contrast or colour clash in an eye-catching way. At the moment I’m loving shocking pink with letterbox red and vivid purple with orange,
Online businesses are now tapping in to the designer hire market, making luxury clothes more accessible and even offering us an income on our own pieces if we are inclined to loan them out ourselves. Companies like www.ourcloset.co.uk offer a wide range of items from Gucci Scarves to Zimmerman dresses to hire at a fraction of the retail price, enabling you to rock a slice of high-end fashion without losing any wardrobe space.
Why not arrange a monthly social with a group of like-minded friends and organise a clothes swap? Events like Fashion Re:boot take this one step further as fashionistas flock to local events all over the country, to buy and sell preloved quality clothing whilst meeting like-minded people. They are becoming extremely popular with stylists and bloggers too, who bring a fabulous selection of items often hardly worn so this can be a great place to bag something special.
Check out the charity shops! Buying vintage is a great way to build a really individual look that is totally your own whilst never running the risk of that horrifying ‘she’s wearing it better than me’ moment! Hang out in affluent areas - you never know what you might find - or plan an expedition to trendy Shoreditch in London, a vintage hotspot with a plethora of hip destinations such as Beyond Retro (www.beyondretro.com).
If you’re after something very special indeed, check out William Vintage in Marylebone for pristine pieces from coveted fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior (www.williamvintage.com). I also think vintage costume jewellery can be far more interesting than new and definitely worth considering - www.jennifergibsonjewellery.com has a wonderful selection.
Once we break the habit of credit-card bashing and start looking at our wardrobes with fresh eyes, it’s amazing what creativity arises and how rewarding it can be. Trawl etsy.com for sew-on diamanté patches and update old cashmere jumpers; buy some cheap pearl stud earrings and press them into some vintage Doc Martins for the latest look. Alternatively, buy lengths of grosgrain ribbon and tie them at the necks of your shirts for a pussy bow effect; pick up vintage broaches at flea markets and cluster them on a blazer lapel, the possibilities are endless….
Make your own
I can’t say I do this myself as I failed miserably at needlework at school, but if you have the patience to operate a sewing machine, why not give the sweat shops a rest and consider making your own. Just be prepared for friends to be putting their orders in if you are any good!
Instagram can be a wonderful source of inspiration, but consider the message your influencers are putting out there and be selective about who you endorse. Erna of @mercer7official is a strong advocate of the capsule wardrobe, championing sustainability through timelessness and a daily uniform, whilst @tessmontgomery recently launched a mindfluencing campaign, highlighting ways in which social media can be used for good. (www.mercer7.com, www.tessm.blog)
Those who follow me will know that I am an ambassador for stray dogs in Greece, and every so often take a break from fashion and beauty and hold a Greek Week raising awareness of the enormous problems over there. Be mindful in who you support.