As a final year student who loves fashion, reflecting on my personal style throughout the years is something I find incredibly amusing. As a fresher almost two years ago whose height of style included pretty little thing and not much else, experiencing university fashion was a real eye-opener to me. Throughout my time at Leeds, fashion has been something that I have grown to love and also something I have grown to understand. So now when I reminisce back to 18-year-old me dressed in her head to toe fast fashion fit I can’t help but appreciate how much fashion has changed for me.
As soon as I drove up to Leeds in freshers of 2018, I noticed an immediate change. Everywhere I looked people were fashionable. Undeniably, Leeds has its own specific look, and everyone dressed in an effortlessly stylish way. Before university, I stuck to a uniform of skinny jeans and going out tops. But being around fashionable people on a daily basis encouraged me to experiment with what I wear, and constantly test my comfort zone. This has not only been a really fun experience but has also impacted my confidence in the best way.
One of the standout moments of my university experience in regard to fashion was the discovery of how harmful fast fashion is. This revelation came to me around the end of my first year. I came across a video called ‘Fast Fashion Explained in Under 5 Minutes’
Before this, my view on fashion was that it should be fast-paced, trendy, and to outfit repeat was a sin. So being confronted with the negative impact of this mindset left me feeling incredibly uncomfortable. It felt as though I had uncovered something I, as a young female consumer, was not meant to see. And the guilt was enormous – It is so easy to be blinded by the YouTube hauls and the Instagrammers #AD’s. This new knowledge acted as a catalyst for a change in the way I shopped. I began to look at different options that would still satisfy my appetite for new styles, without the human and environmental cost. I looked to charity shops, Depop, eBay etc. I also discovered fantastic new brands who focussed on sustainability, such as Tala and Lucy and Yak. It was around this time I began writing for the fashion section of the Gryphon, which gave me a great opportunity to research further into ethical choices.
I’m not by any means perfect when it comes to fast fashion. It is hard. It is undeniably a privilege to avoid fast fashion due to the cost. This means it is not always viable for many students. But even having the knowledge allowed me to challenge the mindset I had surrounding fashion. I now ask myself – will I truly wear this more than one or two times? Will I view it is ‘out of fashion’ in a few months? Do I have something similar in my wardrobe? These questions are a brilliant step in changing the way we view fashion. If we combine that with small steps in the right direction, such as recycling our clothes through charity shops and avoiding huge fast fashion companies, then we’re doing the best we can.
It was both being constantly around stylish young people and understanding the cost of fashion that has allowed me to develop my style throughout university. And if I were to give advice to this years freshers – embrace it!
Header image: BBC