We have all heard about the issue of fast fashion driving overconsumption, but today I want to share my thoughts on why we continue to buy clothes (regardless of the price point) even after being educated on the negative effect this has on the environment.
As one of many lucky retail workers who had the experience of working over Black Friday weekend, I decided to write about my experience as a part-time retail employee. I have to say, it definitely allows you to see consumerism through a different lens. Instead of being the curious consumer it is now your job to encourage customers to buy more. I have witnessed many customers come in and drop large sums of money on clothes without batting an eye, and I have also serviced customers who come in weighed down with bags but still hungry for sales.
My intention for this article is not so we can judge others, but so that we can try to understand our own core values in terms of consumerism. To most of us, myself included, seeing a sale is like pushing a button that automatically flips us to shopping mode. We dig for hours searching for a good deal and after we purchase something on sale, we feel momentary bliss and a sense of accomplishment, but really, we use sales as an excuse to buy things we don’t need. Afterwards, we rationalize it by telling ourselves that because it was a “steal of a deal”, it was okay! Giving ourselves excuses so we don’t need to face the facts is the foundation for the overconsumption prevalent in our modern age.
Personally, I still don’t fully understand why I continue to shop other than perhaps the reasoning that in order to “dress to impress”, I need to update my wardrobe. I used to think that if I went on a one-day shopping spree with a large budget, I would have enough clothes to satisfy me for a long time. I know now that this is untrue because fashions change, and I will always find a new style that I prefer. Even if I am conscious of the current trends but I don’t follow them exactly, they still push me to update my wardrobe in some way. Regardless of our knowledge of overconsumption’s negative effects, our heart wants to buy more clothing and our brain rationalizes it by buying articles on sale.
I definitely do think that it’s possible to be on trend without over-consuming, by buying key pieces and styling them differently through matching and accessorizing instead of buying new clothes every time you visit the mall. Changing our habits is not going to be easy and, as corny as it sounds, each of our decisions do make a difference. I hope this article will urge you to think more in terms of consumption and, over time, form your own conclusions.
By Joanna Ho