The Conscious Consumption Challenge
For the month of January, I decided to join my mom in the "No Shop January" challenge that she does every year. Just like a diet cleanse, it is sort of a shopping cleanse. At first, I thought that it was just because she didn't want to spend money for the entire month of January and to see if she could actually do it, but it is a lot more than just that. Her reasoning behind it is much more, which now I understand and agree with her.
The first reason is every time you buy a product, you are telling the brand what price point to sell an item at. When you keep buying more and more on sale, the retailer feels like they need to continually put more on sale to attract more customers. While I like a good sale, just as much as anyone else, this limits the amount of creativity and differentiation the retailer puts into product development if the design is only about price. That's why, when you're shopping at a store like Banana Republic or Victoria's Secret, you see the same thing over and over again and the constant 40% off and "one-day sales". American retailer have gotten rather stale. If retailers start focusing less on the pricing and more on the quality of the product, there will be room for a more sustainable and innovative product development.
It is so exciting to see a unique outfit on someone, whether it's a new silhouette, color combination, fabric, etc. Over the summer, when I went to the fashion forecasting program at FIT (linked here), I saw a girl wearing a pair of high waisted, pink, brown and white striped pants with a built in belt. I was able to find a pair like them in Milan Italy after searching for two weeks. Moral of the story is that I was so intent on finding a pair of those high waisted pants they were so different than anything I've seen before, that I was willing to spend more than I usually would on a pair of pants. Unlike when I walk into a store like Urban Outfitters, which is my favorite store I might add, and I am sometimes disappointed to see that they have the same things as last season and there's nothing new. When shopping, the right fit, fabric, and brand will determine if I will buy a product just as much as the price. That's the challenge that I face when I shop online, I know the price is low, but is the quality low too?
The second reason is that, in the month of January, all of the merchandise is what people returned and didn't want. They are leftovers from Christmas...and who wants leftovers? Although it may seem like the sales are amazing, they are really just getting rid of the old clothes to make room for the new arrivals for the spring time. There aren't going to be any new trends for winter that come out in January, and the money that you spend can be used (or saved) for something much better! The time used for shopping can be used for other things. I am going to take advantage of the time that I save from shopping and put it into exercising. Starting January 9th, I'm taking classes at the Barre Method to mix up my workouts. Doing Barre will help me with my strength and balance, while giving me a full body workout (I will definitely be doing a fitness blog post on it, so watch out for it!)
So it is not that I am abandoning fashion for January, but I am going to be a conscious consumer and use the clothes I own. I will be mixing up new combinations with my Christmas presents. I am also using my power as a consumer to vote and let retailers know I value innovation and sustainability over price. Will you join me?