No New Clothes For A Year Challenge
I confess, I'm not sure if this is year 4 or 5 for me. Either way, I've committed to the No New Clothes For A Year challenge for a long while.
For as long as I've bought my own clothes I've worn vintage - or as it used to be known, second hand. I shopped in charity shops and at jumble sales, wore hand me downs from family, friends and even neighbours and was taught make do and mend from an early age. Back then it was more necessity than being environmentally aware although we were also brought up not to waste, whether clothing, food or life in general.
It's always helpful to have a challenge to take on, a goal to reach. Committing to NNCFAY adds incentive to my annual pledge to create as little a carbon footprint as possible. If you've not tried it before why not make 2021 the year you ditch High Street Fashion? That includes the virtual High Street made up by names like ASOS, Boohoo and Missguided who contribute to the mountain of throwaway fast fashion consumed each year.
The impact of unsustainable practice in the fashion industry is now widely known but despite both industry and consumer scrutiny, it continues to grow rapidly. It's not helpful that this rising consumption and more efficient production methods have driven clothing prices lower than ever before. In figures produced by the Nature Reviews Report, the number of items owned by the average person has increased while expenditure on clothing and footwear has decreased from about 30% in the 1950s to just 5% in 2020. Fast Fashion relies on the consumer to buy frequently, garments that are cheaply manufactured and will be used briefly before being discarded.
I don't need to bang on about the importance of a sustainable lifestyle, statistics pour out of our radios and are documented on TV sets regularly. It's printed on labels, taught in schools and has seeped into everyday life by way of household recycling and clothes banks. Why then is the $2.4 trillion dollar fashion industry continuing to grow?
No New Clothes For A Year is a challenge anyone can take on and the benefits won't just help the planet. You can experiment with a new look, vintage clothing covers many decades, take your pick. Buying second hand is good for your bank balance, not all purchases are cheaper but garments made years ago were generally made to last, better quality and well tailored. Selling your unwanted items will also add to your wardrobe budget and boost the circular economy. Try the charity shop alphabet, travel to towns from A-Z finding hidden treasures and boosting well needed funds. You can search the best shops to head for online, even Vogue published an article on top UK charity shops.
You can combine NNCFAY challenge with taking up a new skill, learning how to sew, repurposing and mending existing clothing. Alternatively, have fun searching for bargains online for the thrill of winning an item on an auction site for a fraction of it's original cost. There are also tailor made sites for specific clothing, for example Rerun prolonging the life of running clothes or Bridal Reloved where you can shop for pre-owned wedding dresses.
You can find encouragement in online forums and groups. I joined a Facebook Group set up specifically for NNCFAY and despite not checking in often, it's there for moral support if I waver - we all need TKMaxx blinkers sometimes!
I wouldn't be a savvy businesswoman if I didn't mention my own contribution to sustainable fashion. As well as a huge stock of vintage clothing (so big it'll take me a year to list in my Etsy Shop) I'm also a tailoress with over 35 years experience. If your purchase doesn't fit, I can alter, if it's in need of TLC, I repair and if you want personalisation, I customise. Nothing escapes to landfill, even the most tired vintage items get a new lease of life whether upcycled or repurposed, I reuse everything.
Why wait till the clock ticks over into a new year? Start now by having a wardrobe stock take, if you don't wear it consider selling, donating or maybe attempt some upcycling? Get ready to attach your fast fashion blinkers and take the slow fashion route for the next 12 months, you won't be the only one to benefit :-)