The Clothes Keeper
It is often said that fast fashion pieces are badly made and won’t last, but that’s not necessarily true. Sure, inferior quality materials and poorly paid manufacturing are not an ideal combination to make a piece of clothing that will be treated with respect. It comes cheap and it’s not unique (in fact, everyone from Milan to Mumbai will have access to it) and in three weeks time it will be drowned by another ‘drop’ in store.
These prêt-a-jeter (ready-to-throw away) pieces don’t stand the test of time, but it’s not so much because of their inferior quality – it’s because they don’t stand the test of love, because we make no emotional investment when we buy them. Essentially, we don’t give a shit, apart from that nano second when we see them, buy them without even trying them on for size or fit, until we get home and realise, well, no, sorry, not my type.
It won’t suit your jeans as you thought it might: wrong length, wrong texture.
It’s quite simple really: fast fashion is like a one night stand. You go in for the quicky without thinking about it too much and the next morning you wake up and realise your bedfellow isn’t that interesting, or his smell doesn’t suit you.
Not your type. He won’t suit your genes as you thought he might: wrong height, bad skin.
On the other hand, when you fall in love with a garment, when it really is destiny that it should live on your body, it’s like a deep and meaningful relationship, the same as when you meet your boyfriend/girlfriend, the one that will last. The minute you put it on, you feel it describes you, and you know you are in the presence of your future best friend: that one thing that will solve all your wardrobe problems, that will travel with you, make you feel wonderful regardless of PMT or heartbreak. It will help you be better than you feel you are, and you will never part. You will wash it carefully, mend that broken zip, take up that dropped hemline. You will style it smart or paired down, with heels or trainers and wear it to death.
Quality has nothing to do with it: what matters is the extent of work and commitment you are willing to put into that relationship, because you are prepared to make it last. I mean, we don’t all fall in love with prince perfect. In fact, sometimes, it’s the imperfections we are prepared to accept that tell us how involved we really are.
I am a total clothes lover and, as a result, a clothes keeper. A true consumer, from the Latin word consumere meaning ‘to destroy or expend by use’.
I own, not joking, hundreds of clothes: some are bought, most are inherited, some I made myself.
I do a review/clean up every 2 or 3 years, when I pass my treasures to my daughters, their friends, my friends, or give them to charity (but I am known for having bought back my own donated pieces in a fit of nostalgia the very next day on several occasions).
Amongst my favourite items are fast fashion pieces that I have owned for a very long time like my Primark nightie which is 16 years old or my Topshop Reclaim To Wear dress from 2011 which I wear day and night every summer – it literally takes me from the beach to glam party with a change of shoes, and then I fall asleep in it. I also own some vintage pieces from the 60s and 70s which were badly made at the time from some dreadfully cheap materials and I now consider them works of art. It is my love, my care, my affection and my respect that keeps these pieces relevant. It’s how I wear them, how I have let them become a part of me.
Life is long and all great things mature – wine, experience, friendships – which is why a fast fashion date won’t last because you will be preoccupied with how to get rid of it even before you have given it a chance to fit you.
Buying to throw, the prêt-a-jeter attitude that characterises fashion right now (an industry that produces 80 billion items of clothing a year) is a cultural deficiency. This trend cannot be put right by encouraging sustainable disposal, but by communicating authenticity, by falling in love with the clothes we buy and treating them as special. Because loved clothes last.
Partners with pimples or fast fashion frocks: if you love them, they aren’t disposable, they are yours.
What’s your fashion love story?
We are asking fashion lovers from all over the world to join the fashion revolution and create a love story. No one can replace the beautiful jacket that your grandmother wore and gave to you. Or that perfect little dress you found while travelling somewhere special. Rather than buying new, fall back in love with the things you already own. Share a story, or write a love letter about an item of clothing that means a lot to you. Download our how-to-guide for creating a Fashion Revolution ‘love story’ here.