Monday, 14 January 2013

Fashion and Frugality - The Smart Way to Shop

In recent times due to the recession, there are some self-confessed lovers of fashion, who very challengingly, have changed the ways in which they feed their aesthetic needs. Indeed many of us feel as though we need a buzz every now and then of buying something which is fresh, new and completely seductive to us, something which will put us in a great mood the first time a new purchase is worn, something which makes us feel 'pulled together', or even just something to reward ourselves with, feeding our basic human need for simulation.

An article in the current UK Vogue magazine sensitively and humorously documents the way the recession has forced Emma Sheffield to re-evaluate the way she shops. "Torn between the opposing dynamics of economic restraint and old-fashioned desire (and vanity), I became frozen, unable to commit to any one item or even a shopping strategy". Many of us, particularly those of us with tight financial commitments, often struggle choosing between items when there is so much temptation towards several certain items. Most that can afford to are likely to spend less money on more clothes and accessories to satisfy their cravings, rather than the other way round and investing in a single staple piece. Emma is one of the growing latter, who has recently invested more money into one purchase, which happens to be a pair of Prada "Mrs Pepperpot" shoes as her partner affectionately calls them, rather than compromising on quality or desperately looking at ways to fit her bills around her fashion purchases. Her argument was "cheapness was no longer to be my base criterion" and that it would instead be "longevity", the Prada shoes are a "collector’s item that would far outlast the season - and hopefully the recession". In times where more often than not, clothes are cheaply and poorly made in foreign countries and many consumers lack the skills to repair damaged clothing, investing in high quality pieces which will last years rather than months is slowly becoming a more popular choice amongst fashion lovers.

Emma is not alone in her careful and selective shopping strategy. Freelance fashion cosultant Anita Borzyszkowska states "When I do buy, the piece has to work hard to seduce me", working her occasional wardrobe updates with clothes which she already owns, which makes her current wardrobe work harder, yet she is still purchasing the odd individual buy that 'sparkles' and 'gives personality'. A recent luxury report at 'Ledbury Research' shows consumers "are focusing more on quality and good experiences than 'look at me' purchases", further proof of fashion becoming more versatile and adaptable to the individual. This is the advice which Vivienne Westwood has been dishing out for a while, which is to 'buy less, spend more' as well as creative tips on how to create couture dresses out of table cloths in the 'Sustainable Fashion Handbook' by Professor Sandy Black.

On the more extreme side of the scale is a recent article on The Guardian's website, which documents Rebecca Smithers new year's resolution of last year of not buying any new clothes for 12 months, and her experience of the challenge. Of course, it must be far easier when you already have a wardrobe full of designer clothes, and your friend donates a pair of unworn £310 boots, but the article still proves an interesting read. During the past year of Rebecca's challenge, she has been "discovering new pleasures, such as finding items (things like mohair sweaters and velvet tops) in storage which are so old they are back in fashion again", as well as mending clothes and prolonging their lives. Of course in todays society, there are fewer people than there used to be who already have sewing skills, but they quick to learn and are definitely worth it, particularly when a button falls off or a seam splits on your beloved shirt! It also means that once you know the basic skills, you could also customise clothing once you got bored of it, changing hemlines or adding trims, making your garment one of a kind.

It would be drastic to suggest anybody conciously stop buying clothes all together, we all have the right to purchase and deserve a treat every now and again, but it seems the smart way to shop is to invest in quality when buying, even if it is second-hand designer on Ebay or Etsy (I found a great genuine vintage 'Burberries' mac for £90 on Etsy the other day, which would last a lifetime!) and you also never know which forgotton gems you have hidden in your wardrobe if you look to work them in different ways.