The endless joys of retail therapy after a difficult week should not be underrated. Shopping for new clothes gives so many of us a much needed boost of confidence or buzzing, materialistic excitement at the prospect of showing off something new. Having that new pair of flared trousers or trainers at a time like this may well provide a much needed boost in confidence, especially given the mundane ‘corona attire’ which has emerged after not being able to leave the house. Pyjamas, tracksuit bottoms and a baggy t-shirt – rinse and repeat, sometimes literally. Obviously, with the current lockdown, heading out to your nearest shopping centre for a much needed pick-me-up is impossible, and so it leaves us with two options: order online, or take to what I have come to call ‘coronavirus retail therapy’.
A couple of weeks ago, in yet another stroke of lockdown boredom, my family decided to go through their clothes and get rid of items they don’t wear anymore. The items taken out were the kind that are so deep in the cupboards or drawers that they’ve collected dust. With all these clothes out of their natural habitats and sat in a colourful pile on a dresser, I was struck with a familiar bout of creativity that more often than not, leads absolutely nowhere. Not that the idea is anything new or revolutionary, but I was determined to make new looks out of this lonely and forgotten pile. Instead of letting this spark of inspiration disappear with the rest of my motivation into the bottomless abyss of quarantine, I decided that I’d give it a go.
I would have been an utter disappointment as a fifties housewifeNina Mul
I’ve learnt a few things from this personal project of mine. Firstly, I am terrible at sewing. Frankly, I would have been an utter disappointment as a fifties housewife. But I’m willing to keep at it because it’s another skill to have under the belt (also an excellent response when you are asked the dreaded ‘Do you have any unusual skills?’ at a job interview… ‘demolishing a lemon drizzle cake in under 10 minutes’ has had its time to shine, now I’m a real grown up.) More importantly, I’ve decided that upcycling clothes is both gratifying and a brilliant way to combat the other pandemic seeping into our daily lives: fast-fashion.
Sustainability and anti-fast-fashion sentiment has increased in both industries and amongst consumers in recent years as the environmentally damaging impacts of clothing production have been exposed. Fast-fashion is best described as the mass-production of cheap clothing with continuously changing styles and trends which make us feel out date, consequently encouraging consumers to buy more. Due to its inherently disposable nature, the fashion industry has been dubbed the second largest polluter, just after the oil industry. Unfortunately, for those of us who want to help the environment and the workers who make our clothes, sustainable options are rarely affordable compared to the cheap and accessible fast-fashion retailers we’re used to. This is because sustainable providers avoid cutting corners in worker’s pay and use the proper methods to avoid polluting, which inevitably increases the cost.
So, unless you are fortunate enough to be able to splash your eco-friendly cash, it becomes incredibly difficulty to avoid fast-fashion. On a brighter note, it is becoming more common for sustainable brands to break into the market and compete with the fast fashion brands on prices, and even perform better in sales! In the case of gym wear, sustainability-focused brands such as TALA, led by Grace Beverley, have been making strides in the gym wear market, often beating out less scrupulous competitors. More locally, charity shops and second-hand shops provide affordable clothing and help combat the waste caused by fast-fashion.
But what do we do now in lockdown? If you find yourself in dire need of some retail therapy, whack out a needle and thread and get creative. If you have a sewing machine, see if you’re any more competent than me in sewing in a straight line – something I’m ashamed to admit that I’m still trying to master. Although it is indeed tempting to turn to online shopping in times like this, try to consider the environmental impact of both the creation and the delivery of cheap clothes. Though it costs less for you, the cost on our precious environment is immense. Consider up-cycling your clothes. Ultimately you’ll save money, you’ll help save the environment and it’s an amusing way to spend some time in quarantine. Meanwhile, I’m off to go raid my dad’s wardrobe for anything else I can ruin with bleach in the name of apocalyptic retail therapy.