Over the last couple of months we’ve all been forced to re-examine many aspects of our lifestyles and something I’ve been reconsidering is my role as a fashion consumer. I’ll be the first to admit that my consumption of fashion pre-covid wasn’t as good as it could have been. I probably spent too much money on items I didn’t really need, too much time online shopping, and too long being badly influenced by Instagram. So, I have come to the realisation that I need to re-evaluate my fashion choices. And whilst I think it’s fanciful to imagine that my habits have changed that drastically, I would hope that they have improved somewhat.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to spend lockdown being almost entirely unproductive. This has meant I’ve spent even more time than usual browsing the ‘new in’ pages of my go-to online shops. Despite this, I have found myself hesitating to press ‘checkout now’, unsure if what I’m about to do is necessary or even ethical during a pandemic. I have become increasingly aware of how little I know about where my clothes are coming from. I don’t know what the working conditions of the shops I’m buying from are like, how much employees are paid and if they are being protected well enough. I am also less inclined to buy from bigger brands when a lot of smaller shops are suffering financially right now. This has led me to turn to smaller independent shops, who tend to at least appear more upfront about the ethics of their brands. I have discovered shops and brands that otherwise I perhaps wouldn’t have and I feel I am able to justify spending more on items if I can see that the quality of the product is higher, and that the ethics are there. I’ve found that I get a lot more fulfilment from these items as well. They often arrive beautifully packaged, with little personal touches, (and a lot less plastic) and so I treasure these purchases a lot more than ones from big fast fashion brands. So although I don’t have the budget to buy exclusively from these smaller shops, I think that going forward on I will try to shop from them more often.
I’ve also been spending much more time on second-hand sites like Depop, Etsy and eBay during lockdown. I have delved into the sea of wavey garms, e-girl fits and hype beasts and actually made some really good finds. Yes, it does take some sifting through, but I’ve discovered that most of the time these second hands sites are better than bigger shops for finding exactly what you want, especially if what you’re looking for is a bit niche, or an older style. They also offer up another way of supporting smaller and younger businesses, as a lot of the sellers make or customize their own clothes. You’re likely to find more unique items on these sites, which is a surefire way to avoid the fashion faux pas of turning up somewhere to find that someone else is wearing almost exactly the same outfit as you.
My screen time has risen a worrying amount in lockdown, with a large percentage of it being spent on Instagram. And, since I’ve been spending so much more time on the app, I’ve become increasingly bored by it and the fashion influencers I follow. I’ve realised that I’ve been getting little to no inspiration from most of them; too many seem to be blindly following trends or sticking to the same rinse and repeat of outfits in each overly staged post on my feed. So, I commenced with an exceedingly satisfying culling of my feed and discovered a whole new batch of influencers to follow. This doesn’t help with my time management problem regarding Instagram, but I might be slightly more inspired by my mindless scrolling now.
In short, I think my relationship with fashion and consumerism has changed mostly for the better during the pandemic. I’d like to think that I have become slightly more careful with my habits, in where I’m spending my money and who I look to for fashion inspiration. I can only hope that these new and healthier habits last as long as lockdown seems to be lasting.
title image credit: Vogue Arabia