For my entire life, fashion has always symbolized an identity to take on, to mold and to form, until it’s my own. For the past couple of years or so, I’ve become much more conscious of my shopping habits and myself as a consumer, and ultimately have stopped shopping as much as I used to. I had become so grossed out by fast fashion after years of studying its effects on the climate, unfair wages and labor practices, as well as consumer culture in general. It’s something I know I do not want to be a part of, or at least want to limit my part in as much as possible.
My bank account was tired, and getting dressed was boring; it didn’t feel like a new adventure anymore. Shopping was even worse, because, how many hours can you spend wandering Urban Outfitters aimlessly, watching your savings account drain with each unsatisfying compulsive buy?
Buying a pair of jeans shouldn’t be so heady.
To combat the mindlessness of making fast fashion purchases, I began to have super-existential conversations with myself each time I looked to purchase something. Did I want it, did I need it, will I keep it forever, will it complete me? This didn’t really help either, it only solidified a type of mentality that tied my identity so closely to clothes; a “you are what you consume” type of thinking. Buying a pair of jeans shouldn’t be so heady.
Or should it? In my quest to better understand my relationship with clothes and shopping, and things in general, last year, I embarked on a journey to Marie Kondo my life. I, like many others, had this dream that every aspect of my life could be compartmentalized into neat and tidy drawers full of only the things I needed and loved. While I’m not knocking Mrs. Kondo at all, I think that sometimes life is much more complicated than that—especially when you’re in fashion and your life’s passion is making, creating, and collecting things. I found that, for myself, it’s impossible to maintain a calm and collected closet, but it just might be possible to have a curated chaos of a closet.
I found that I was purchasing clothes without a “spark of joy” (as Marie Kondo would say) in my eye. Said clothes would then accumulate in my closet, on my floor, on my bookshelf, even. I also started noticing that everyone, including myself, looked the same. With each purchase we solidified our uniform, which would, eventually, sooner than later, go out of style, and we would start the cycle all over again.
After cleaning out my life and my closet, I started feeling that urge again to express myself again through clothes. I knew the only place I could find something affordable and unique would be at a thrift shop.
Since I’ve started up, I’ve never felt more like me. For me, it’s more than shopping, it’s a form of treasure hunting. When I was a little kid, I was always on a mission to find tiny treasure. From charms, to coins, to marbles, rocks, I simply loved to collect. Now when I thrift, I feel like a little kid again. My eyes light up, my stomach gets butterflies, my body tingles at the sight of a 5 dollar Yankee windbreaker, a black Moschino blazer, a
It’s about identity and fluidity and the ability to constantly be changing and evolving and embellishing said identity.
Thrifting is probably more of a creative exercise than anything else. Which, I think, is the total purpose of fashion to begin with. It’s about identity and fluidity and the ability to constantly be changing and evolving and embellishing said identity. Fast fashion simply won’t suffice because its sole purpose is consumption, while thrifting is about collecting and curating with the freedom to try on and create identities. It’s about indulging in nostalgia while also giving it, and yourself, a new life.
While we’re all trying to figure ourselves out in a complicated time of social media compare-and-like culture, it’s important to realize that we’ll shed many identities throughout our lives. I’m coming to terms with this; I’m starting to see fashion less as an identity to mold myself to, and more as an opportunity to create myself, and then start all over again the next day. I’ve found that different seasons of your life require different tools, different mementos, different leather jackets, to keep you going. Rinse and repeat.