29 June 2014

Some thoughts about trends and fashion

Most of the industry producing clothes, shoes and accessories is driven by trends and fashion. Companies are either trying to be trend setters and decide what's going to be the next fashion, or they are jumping on current fashion trends. No matter what approach they take it's all done to tell people that whatever they bought last year is no longer in fashion and that it's necessary to get all the latest items to be able to fit in. The media is also proclaiming this way of thinking about clothes. Be it television, magazines or newspapers, the concern is always with what's in fashion or what's thought to come into fashion next season. This is, of course, good for business and a lot of people buy into this. Many people actually feel they need to be fashionable to fit in to the particular group or environment they are trying to be part of.

Although good for business, is this system good for anything else? I'm not so sure if it is, and there are clearly many negative sides to this. From an individual's point of view, always following the fashion will prevent the individual from really developing an own style. Properly thinking through what you wear and why you wear it also becomes unnecessary as the decisions are continuously being made for you by the manufacturers. It is, of course, also expensive to always having to restock your wardrobe. If you look at it from a slightly wider perspective, there are many things that are problematic with the fashion system. From an environmental point of view it is disastrous as it creates an enormous over production as everybody always needs to have all the latest items, and it also creates more waste than imaginable as unfashionable items are thrown away. Fashion is also the enemy of quality. There is no real need for quality and craftsmanship in a product which is expected to be out of fashion withing six to twelve months. In search for the highest possible profits, little emphasis is put on creating acceptable working conditions and wages for the people actually making the products. There is plenty of evidence of fashion items being produced under appalling conditions. Quality suffers under this system as the products aren't meant to last and craftsmanship is not valued. Think about this next time you're going to buy something. Are you buying the right thing?

I'll be the last one to suggest one should stop buying things and having a full wardrobe should never be seen as a bad thing, but don't fill it up with poor quality stuff you will only use a handful of times. This is a realisation I've gradually come to during the last decade. I have no idea how many pieces of clothing or shoes I've bought just because it was cheap. Items that I didn't really want and had no plan for when to wear. Poor quality stuff that filled up the wardrobe but didn't really improve it.  I am proud to say that these days I manage to contain myself and it is now several years since I bought something just for the sake of buying it. I've also become passionate about quality and craftsmanship and I try to do what I can to convince people that these things are important, and that style beats fashion every time.
Below are a few point I think it's worth following when shopping.
  • Never buy an item you don't think you'll be wearing at least two years later.
  • Always buy the best possible quality you can afford. Even though quality items are more expensive, buying quality products are likely to be cheaper in the long run as they last much longer.
  • Don't confuse famous and expensive brands with quality as the correlation is not always there.
  • Don't buy an item just because it's on sale. Think about it twice and make sure you only buy it if you really think you'll be wearing it for a long time. 

Help improving the world by being more conscious about what you buy and what you wear!

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