This was written by Alyssa Manalo, an undergraduate Communications student who is minoring in Interactive Arts and Technology.
How many times have you bought something only to wear it a couple times because it was: poor quality, an impulse buy, or a trendy piece that didn’t look good anymore? I mean come on, how long do we keep fast-fashion purchases around? Often I find myself buying things, wearing or using them a handful of times, and then having it slowly disappear in my room, thus accumulating space. Eventually, I'll come around to either: a) donate it, b) sell it, or c) toss it.
Although it is great for us to donate items and recycle them, thrift stores receive thousands of donations and usually only take a very small percentage of them. The rest are either tossed or sent overseas. Now, this isn’t entirely bad, but it would help the environment out so much more if we committed to buying quality pieces that we’ll keep and use for longer periods of time. If you’re buying less, you’ll also be saving more money! Seriously, I’m sure we all don’t realize how much we spend on impulsive items.
Before purchasing an item, try asking yourself these questions:
1. "Do I really need this?"
2. “Do I have something similar to this?
3. “What can I wear with this?
4. “How often will I wear it?
Even if an item is a bit more pricey than an item from a fast-fashion retail giant like Forever 21, I justify my purchase by dividing the price by the amount of times I would wear it. So for example, if I bought a jacket from Forever 21 for $70, but only wore it for one season (let’s say 90 days) because it started piling, then the cost per wear would be 77 cents. But if I bought a jacket from Aritzia for $300, but wore it for at least two years (let’s say around 480 days, excluding the warmer season), the cost per wear would be 62 cents! Although the jacket at Forever 21 is initially cheaper than a jacket at Aritzia, you actually end up saving more money if you invest in the Aritzia jacket since you’ll wear it longer and won’t have to buy a new coat right away. Buying less and buying better will get you your dollar’s worth and save you money!
Some of my favorite local retailers that you might want to visit include Oak + Fort, Kit & Ace, and Aritzia. If you aren’t into those kinds of stores, I would also highly recommend shopping at thrift stores such as Value Village or Salvation Army, consignment stores like C’est la vie and My Sister’s Closet, or wholesale vintage retailers like F as in Frank and Frankie Collective. Those stores always have some hidden gems to offer at amazingly affordable prices.
By shopping at retailers of that nature, you are supporting local, recycling, and investing in items that you would wear over and over again without fear of it completely losing its quality. Try and challenge yourself to steer away from fast-fashion retailers such as Forever 21, H&M, and Zara.
We have plenty of local retailers here in Vancouver that produce timeless pieces that would be great additions to your wardrobe. However, if you do end up shopping at those stores, try resisting trendy pieces and purchase staple items that you know you’ll use much more.
Let us know how you'll be buying less, buying better this new year!