Confessions of a Recovering Shop-a-holic.

So here I am, surrounded by hundreds of items in a combination of clothes, shoes, accessories and jewellery. I never wanted to admit I had a problem, but it has taken me two years of my design and fashion marketing degree to realise that material things do not necessarily make you happy unless they have sentimental meaning. I am surrounded by my peers with families that had the money and could afford having a full walk in wardrobe which we all could have dreamed of. They associated happiness with what they owned and what they could afford. I didn’t have much growing up, and it’s just natural that as soon as you can have what you have never been able to have, you get it.

In my very first post on this blog, I outlined the contents of my wardrobe. I do have a problem which has gotten out of hand, and it may have grown since. You could say, I have become a professional hoarder. I began to associate material things with happiness, but it wasn’t making me happy in the long run. I live in clutter, and although my wardrobe has consistency with a minimalist feel in the colour scheme and relaxed silhouettes, it is far from minimal.

J and I live together in a one bedroom shoe box style unit, and he has the built in wardrobe for all his belongings – I however, have a clothing rail in the bedroom, four long slide out boxes under the bed, eight draws at the end of the bed, eight box shelves, and two clothing rails in the lounge room which hold my jackets and shoe storage. Is it fair that our unit is basically my wardrobe? Unquestionably not.

 

 

So here I am. It is a lovely Saturday. After watching the documentary ‘Minimalism – a Documentary About the Important Things’ on Netflix during the week, and although becoming a more sustainable person has been something I have been trying to acquire over the last couple of years, this was the ultimate wake up call to do a colossal declutter.

I am currently culling down my wardrobe. Although Courtney Carver’s 333 project would be my ultimate challenge to complete, it’s all about baby steps. My challenge is cull my down my wardrobe to fit on one rail to hang in the bedroom and open up the living space in the lounge room. The slide out containers under the bed will then contain the excessive contents of my wardrobe to be put into our above wardrobe storage where I can not access at all without a ladder. I had just had a clean out and donated clothing to one of my my younger sisters who now fits into most of my tighter fitting clothing, so I will not be donating anything I put away until I pull it out of the above wardrobe storage where it will stay ‘out of sight and out of mind’ until the end of summer.

 

 

And the end result… I’m now down to one clothing rail and my sets of draws. I’ve used the four big slide out  boxes under the bed to store away clothing I may need next year or not 100% ready to part with to go up in the above wardrobe storage, and I have two garbage bags full (which I’ll reuse as bin liners afterwards) with clothing to upload to my depop to give them a second life (@lluhsd), a lot still with tags attached! I am so embarrassed relieved.

I discovered a lot of clothing that I remembered buying, wanted to wear in the last year, but couldn’t find. I am hoping this decluttering means I can enjoy this spring/summer with clothes I truly love, and not create many floor-drobes and have many tantrums around ‘I have nothing to wear’.

And although I have a long way to go, and I could still do a bit more refining to my wardrobe, I welcome myself to ‘the edited life’.

My goal is to adhere to the ‘one in, two out’ rule. Although my ultimate goal is to not purchase anything at all unless I absolutely need it, this will help justify whether I really want something and willing to sacrifice some of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe for it.

 

…and Tidus is also enjoying all the empty boxes, of course.

 

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From the wardrobe: on Natasha C.

While you’re sipping on your morning coffee, here are some things styled straight from the wardrobe, some of which were second hand pieces found at while at Vinnies.

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Natasha C. is wearing..

 

Black lace dress from Cue Clothing, found at Vinnies / Long black pleated skirt, unknown brand, found at Vinnies / Longline black coat from Monki / Flat top black hat from Miss Shop @ Myer / White blouse from H&M, found at Vinnies / Sheer black blouse from Witchery / Black boots from Natasha’s wardrobe.

 

Model, Natasha Collimore / Location, Centennial Parklands, Sydney / Photography, Danielle Hulls / Styling, Danielle Hulls

Written by: Danielle Hulls

 

autumn essential essentials

You have a pair of jeans, a basic tee, your go to pair of ‘comfy’ shoes, basic dresses, stockings, a collection of slouchy knit pieces grandma has made for you over the years – what more do you need for your perfect autumn wardrobe?

On a student budget, it is essential to make more out of what you have, with less. Now, keeping on trend is key, right? I mean, you want to be in this seasons current trend?  Make your own trend. Chances are you probably already have these basic essentials, but they’re in hiding amongst the pieces you purchased for Summer that you probably will never wear again.  Use them for Autumn.

. . .

that white shirt dress…

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Chances are, you wore this cute little basic, yet simple twist on the iconic white shirt with either sneakers or sandals during the Summer, I mean, pretty much every girl wore it at least once a week, whether it be for a comfortable outfit to wear on the town, or to cover their swimming costumes while on their way to the beach. Either way, it’s going to be your Autumn/Winter staple too.

Grab those thigh high boots that you literally wore all last winter because you couldn’t (and every other girl) be bothered wearing pants last year.

And that trench coat that only ever comes out when you need to duck out to the shops because you need a coffee but ran out of your favourite nut milk, but don’t want to change out of your pyjamas (I know your secret, it’s mine too).

Or, if you’re not feeling the trench coat, here’s my little secret… ‘prep is always in’. Rummage through your closet for that basic black knitted crew neck jumper – and how cute are you?

That, is your first two outfits for this Autumn with one simple dress.

 

 

 

 

what a waste, literally.

Why is it, that we design and produce clothing on a large scale at extreme low quality? Why must we have such a quick turn around time which some fast fashion outlets bring out up to 52-micro seasons/collections per year? Why must we always have to have something new?  And why must they always be producing something new? Do we need it? No.

Fashion is an art form, and it is status driven. But, fast fashion is exploiting it’s power to tap into the emotional senses of the consumers, to make them feel like they need a new shirt, that they need it to feel accepted, to make them feel successful for attaining the shirt at such a low cost, that it’s going to make them happy.

The person that produced the shirt, little do they know, that is living in poor conditions as they do not make a proper living wage for making the shirt, that shirt will deteriorate within several wears from being poorly manufactured because of the conditions that it is being made in, that the shirt is going to contribute to the 27kg of textile waste per Australian which is going into landfill every year on average (source: textile beat) and in which already 500,000 tonnes of leather and textiles are discarded each year (source: ABS), then that shirt is then going to take  up to 40 years to break down as it has plastic properties because the shirt is more than likely a polyester fibre based material. 

And all of this? For your convenience? So all those big fast fashion chains would rather exploit garment workers in third world countries? Did we not learn from the Rana Plaza incident in 2013 where we lost the lives of more than 1,100? And we, continue to fund fast fashion, in all of which is going to then contribute to the mass amount of textiles in landfill, which is going to contribute to global warming and depletion of resources? And we, as consumers are going to continue to fuel the problem because we refuse to own up to what monstrosity we have created, all for our convenience.

Why is it so hard for brands to have transparency, and for us to be aware of how our clothes are made? Or in fact, how are we so ignorant.

wearing murder.

Before we get all serious and factual, this is a summary of this post.

Fur epitomised a dream of glamour in the height of fashion, a longing for comfort and success.” (Carol Dyhouse), but this image of glamour comes as a result of murder in reality. The fur trade feeds on ignorance, (Tim Phillips) of people who are emotionally and physically disconnected from the exploited animals their fur garments are coming from.  Animals that are farmed for their fur are housed in unbearably confined spaces, with significant numbers in countries such as Europe, North America, Argentina, China and Russia, where this industry thrives. The animals that are the most commonly used and abused for our demand for fur are minks and foxes, followed by chinchillas, lynxes, hamsters, wolf, beaver, seals and rabbits (PETA).  Real and faux fur continues to be glamourised on the runway, and the general public having minimal knowledge about the atrocities that are behind their perceptions of glamour. The questions raised here are “How does ignorance change the industry?” and “ how is murder okay in the name of fashion?”.

 

 

How does ignorance change the industry?

Fur as clothing was initially for practicality reasons, providing warmth and durability and to protect our bodies from harsh climatic conditions. Additionally, hunters at the time believed that the wear of animal skin in fur provoked strength, power, courage, skills, prowess and fertility. Later, in European culture, it then became an object of luxury and signified social status. Thus, desire for fur overrode its original usage to provide its wearing with basic needs of warmth and protection. As the demand for fur has increased, the industry and its processes of manufacturing has gotten out of control in order to keep up with this demand.

With growing middle classes from the early 20th century onwards, there were more people with disposable incomes. This meant there were more customers on the market for luxury goods, and an increasing demand for products such as fur coats and garments dressed or trimmed with fur. Increased demand for fur created an opening in the market for less expensive furs such as muskrat, wolf, racoon, rabbit, lamb, and others. Despite customers not being able to see where these products come from, it does not stop them from shopping the high end luxury furs that appeared in the latest New York fashion week, and regularly in other fashion shows and brand’s collections. Although the general public are educated on some level about such matters through the media, those consumers fur generally choose to ignore the bloodshed of murder which occurs to create these products. Such bloodshed includes the  70 million minks that were farmed in 2015, the 3.7 million foxes were specifically bred for fur in 2010, the 4.6 million animals who were trapped to be used for fur in the US, and the 365,000 seals that were hunted in the Canadian seal hunt in 2004. These statistics are readily available and publicised, yet the consumers choose to ignore.

As Tim Phillips says “I do not think people who have fur items, or items with fur trim, are necessarily wilfully cruel, they’re more likely to be simply unaware of the reality of the product.” With the consumers continuing to ignore the facts, the industry continues to grow.

The infamous animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s (PETA) campaign “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” has helped bring fur sales down. The campaign implements the advertising tactic of using sex to sell. It promotes the idea of wearing someone else’s skin is wrong through provocative advertisements. Although proven effective in its cause, it has drawn more attention for its PETA’s exploitation of women in the public eye. People are choosing to ignore the intended message, and deterring it to an issue which is preferred to be discussed.

 

 

 

how is ‘wearing murder’ right in the name of ‘fashion’?

The late Victorian period witnessed an alarming gruesome Vogue for wearing of jackets, hats and mudds trimmed with whole birds, stuffed kittens’ heads and baby squirrels.” and animals only being kept alive to use their fur rather than to use their body for meat.

The ‘demand for beaver pelts had driven that animal to the brink of extinction in Europe and Scandinavia in the 18th Century.’ One billion rabbits were murdered for their fur a year, Angora rabbits are only bred for their fur, and not used for meat at all which is a common misconception that rabbit fur is a ‘by-product’ of the meat industry. It is not.The answer is, it’s not right to breed animals only for their fur.

The fur industry is wasteful of our animal population, living lives in cages only to be skinned to their deaths. Most of the fur skins used by the trade come from fur factory farms and are purchased at the many fur auctions that take place around the world each year. One of the largest of these is the Kopenhagen.

Jackie Recek, head designer of Australian label Simona says “We feel [that using real fur] is cruel. We decided to introduce faux fur into our autumn/winter collection as, globally, it’s a current fashion statement and we feel that faux fur can tell the same story, but in a more suitable manner.” Here we see that there has been enlightenment to the facts and a shift in the perceptions of the industry towards where they get their goods that go into their clothing from. The industry is able to continue with the luxurious ideas of fur coats and accessories, by simply making them faux. We can continue to wear this once an essential for survival, now a pure fashion statement, cruelty free by simply using the readily developed materials to make replications of our luxury wear. There would be no need to farm animals for their fur, nor trap them in their natural habitat. We would be using less resources to feed and kill the animals in their masses, than to produce the pieces.

 

. . .

 

So, is the industry affected by the ignorance of its consumers? The answer is yes. The murder involved in the fur industry thrives on it. The children that are being exposed to the barbaric practice making difference in their lives? It is contributing to the ignorance as they are not being educated on both sides; and the murder for fashion is morally wrong. If you wouldn’t want to murder your pet and wear it, why would you support an industry that is killing billions of animals each year in the name of fashion.

it’s time to wake up, darling.

We are living in the age of convenience, but how convenient is it going to be when we deplete this earth of all its natural resources?

Although I’m not one to talk, I’ve been brought up in the age of convenience too. I’ve bought cans of drink and coffee in disposable cups and put them in general waste bins instead of recycling which contributes to the 50million tonnes of waste that Australians are producing each year as of 2016 (MRA). I was brought up on eating meat for the first 18 years of my life which had me contribute to the estimated 51 per cent of the global greenhouse gases just on raising and killing livestock (FAO) and over 56 billion animals that die for us to eat (animalequality.net). I was buying at one stage at least one item of clothing per week which contributed to my wardrobe count of 638 units, which has me contributing to low wages in the factories in third world countries and excess use of water and chemicals to produce the cotton to make my shirts and jeans. And to top this off, I do take a plastic bag if I have forgotten to take a reusable one, in which, the average amount of time a plastic bag is used before it ends up in general waste, is only 12 minutes (conservingnow.com). I am guilty. Although this isn’t everything that I have contributed to in my lifetime but these are the most common to which we all contribute to, it is a wake up call to change.

Although some of the things we do, we don’t do intentionally. We’ve been brought up that way. Everything is there for us. Thirsty? Here’s a bottle of water. Tired? There’s a cafe on every corner. Spilt your coffee on your shirt? Target has t-shirts for $4 so you can just take it off and throw it in the bin. The age of convenience is what is going to speed up our search for new planets to live on (or destroy next.) But how hard is it, to simply change our habits, to prolong the lifespan of our time here on Earth?

My lifestyle is in no way sustainable due to the amount of waste that is produced from the use of products that is convenient such as cans, plastic bottles and packaged food which is consumed on a daily basis. In addition to this, the purchase off excessive pieces for the wardrobe and my make-up repertoire could be brought down to a minimum.

From counting products that exist in my wardrobe, I don’t think any person needs as much as 638 units. 109 being pairs of socks, 69 undergarments, 60 shirts and 46 pairs of pants – this is not the full extension, but is a taste of the excessiveness of what my wardrobe is. In reality, this an over consumption, and a result of the fast fashion industry being so accessible and everything on high rotation. More than half of these units probably have not left their draws/wardrobe in six months. Could I up-cycle or donate? Yes.

Our generation is the change for a better tomorrow. Education to our following generations is going to be what will alter how long the human race has on this earth before we completely destroy and make it deem un-liveable. Changing our habits which we have picked up from previous generations and implementing them in our day to day life. It’s all about changing our habits and passing them down is what it going to change our future and the future for others.

‘Mustn’t we make sustainability inclusive rather than exclusive?’

I invite you to my journey to a better tomorrow, one step at a time.