Scottish fashion detox now conquering America

Image by Erin Kirsop

On the 18th of February 2019, I scrolled through Instagram, as I always do and came across a sponsored post.

“Fashion Detox Challenge, 10 weeks, no new clothes, last day to sign up!”

Whether it was my newfound interest in slow-fashion or my empty purse begging me not to spend another penny on yet another jumper, I’m not sure but I, along with around 30 other brave souls, signed up. I didn’t realise it would take me on such a life-altering journey.

The Fashion Detox Challenge was set up by ex-fashion designer and Glasgow Caledonian University PhD student Emma Kidd as part of her research into ‘Transitions in Clothing Consumption’ after witnessing first-hand, as a fashion designer in South East Asia, the social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, also known as ‘fast-fashion’.

The challenge itself is designed to be as inclusive and supportive as possible with a voluntary forum to post about your journey as you go and to gain support from your fellow detoxers. Laugh all you want, but as a recovering shopaholic, this feature was key to my perseverance. Alongside 70% of the UK, I would quite often buy one new item of clothing per week and like the rest of the UK, my clothes would last me an average of 2 and half years. Who am I kidding, mines were lucky to last me 2 and a half months.

This isn’t uncommon – once you begin to pull yourself away from the clutch the fashion industry has on you, the fog begins to clear and the trance you’ve been in since the day your mum stopped buying your clothes slowly begins to break.

The UK Fashion Industry is worth £26 billion and employs over 800,000 people, making it the largest creative industry in the UK according to the British Council. In 2018, we as a country spent £58.4 million on clothes alone, and yet people are shocked to find that it is the second most polluting industry in the world, right behind the oil and coal industry. But why do we spend so much on clothes if it is so damaging to our planet, not to mention our bank accounts?

Well, because we’re told to. In my 10 weeks of detoxing, I unsubscribed from 28 promotional mailing lists, unfollowed 32 fast-fashion accounts on social media and avoided fast-fashion stores like they were my ex after a bad break-up.

The lengths I and everyone else had to go to just to avoid the pull of the fast-fashion trance speaks volumes. People are beginning to wake up from their hypnotic shopping habits and because of challenges like The Fashion Detox Challenge; it’s becoming so much more than taking control of our spending.

The New York Times recently mentioned Emma and her challenge in their article ‘How to Buy Clothes That Are Built to Last’ and since then, Emma has seen a massive increase in sign-ups from all across the globe. She said;

“I’m blown away by all the interest and support that we have received since being mentioned in the NYTimes! We had thousands of website hits and well over 100 new Fashion Detoxers sign-up from all over the world in just 48hours – from as far away as Hawaii and Australia!”

Asking her how she feels now her small Glasgow-based challenge, that was only ever planned to be a one-time thing, is now being done across the Atlantic:

“For me this response shows just how ready people are to review their shopping habits, and it expresses the growing number of people who are becoming fed-up with being collectively encouraged to mindlessly buy more and more ‘stuff’. I think this international interest reveals the scale of issues we face in relation to over-consumption, however, it also shows the potential for human-scale global change!”

With hundreds of people now taking part, Emma’s research project has far surpassed any expectations. People around the world now meticulously sifting through their wardrobes in an effort to dress themselves in the morning for the next 10 weeks are most likely unaware of the impact they are having to the environment through the small act of simply re-wearing instead of buying. With websites and apps like ‘Depop’ and ‘Re:Loved’, second-hand shopping is no longer something your Granny does in the local charity store, but a way of keeping clothes out of landfills as well as putting money in your pocket.

An article by The Guardian  claims that clothing has been the fastest growing waste stream in the UK over the past 10 years with a predicted 235 million items expected to have ended up in landfills in 2017. I am glad to announce that that number is slowly in decline with more people consciously donating their clothes as opposed to binning them like they have in previous years.

A Fashion Detox participant, Maggie Huminiecka, who took part in the first Fashion Detox Challenge said that 10 weeks without shopping has had a lasting effect on her shopping habits in an interview with The Nine.

“Before the challenge, I was buying online without even really realising. I had so many clothes, I didn’t need them, I didn’t wear them and I didn’t enjoy them. It became a habit.”

So clearly giving up buying new clothes helps more than just your wallet, now the only question that is left to ask is; what will I waste my money on now?

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