It is now the one year anniversary of the year that I didn’t buy any new clothes. Well, actually it was yesterday, but I didn’t get to post cause I was super busy (Boyfriend and I are trying to buy a house, which takes up all of my free time, but that’s another story).
But from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015 I didn’t buy any new clothes. The process was supposed to teach me about the impact of the fashion industry on the environment and the social implications. And it did, kind of. More on that later.
How it started:
January 2014. I’m starting my final semester of college. The course is Textile and Apparel in the Global Economy, and I’m sitting in a lecture hall waiting for it to start. The professor, a very well dressed man I had seen around the school but never really interacted with, takes the stage. His opening line “How many of you have bought clothes in the last six months?” Every student raises his or her hand. “How many of you bought clothes in the last two weeks?” Most hands stay raised. “Why? Because it’s cute, because we liked it, because it’s on sale” We all stare, waiting to see where this is going. Then he drops the bomb.
“I bet every person in here has enough clothing in their closet to not buy any for one year. But we do. But do you really know where they come from?”
What happened over the next four months was the course that changed my life. It was all about environmental impact, fair wages, and how the US has almost no apparel industry. By March, I felt so awful that I felt I needed to take the bet. So starting April 1, I did.
When I first posted about my project, everyone thought it was an April Fools joke. I didn’t realize the date when I first decided on it, I just went for convenience. I couldn’t use the random date in March where I made the decision as my marker, as it was too easy to forget. And waiting for it to be a New Years Resolution was too far away. So April it was. After finally convincing people that yes, this was going to happen and yes, I was going to actually make it the whole year, I embarked on one of the most difficult years of my life (willpower anyway).
I know that there are many people out there who have it harder than I do, considering what I just said about this year being so difficult. But before you say anything about that, let me just clarify with this: That was the point. Many people who work in the apparel manufacturing industry have it tough. It has gotten better over the years, but it is no where near where it needs to be.
Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be so tough if I didn’t work in the industry I do. I have a degree in Fashion Merchandising, and I am a shopaholic who is a retail manager for a living. Being constantly surrounded my clothes and getting a discount makes shopping too easy.
I thought it would help me save money, but that same year I moved in with Boyfriend in the house he had been renting for the last year. You know men, not so much with the decorating. So it fell to me to make the place more at home. My spending really just ended up being realigned.
It took a lot of willpower, but I made it through. I’m not going to bore you with all the little details about what I’ve learned. This post is already pretty long, and I can always do that later. Once I was able to shop again, I had a mall date with my mom and went a little crazy. And for a few months afterward. Then I realized how I had thrown pretty much everything I stood for during my year out the window, and I went back to my smart ways.
During the last few months I have done a little better. I’ve thought more about where my clothes come from and who makes them, avoiding companies and clothing made in countries where there has been labor issues. I’ve been more about quality and quantity, preferring to buy clothes that will be in for more than a season and that I will want to wear for a length of time. I try to wear clothes until they have reached their useful life, instead of just dumping them at Goodwill cause I am “over them”. And I have joined the Anti Fast Fashion Movement.