Disposable fashion, no passion

By Sophia Coleman

Too many mornings I wake up and think, “I have nothing to wear.” If you look into my closet, you’d probably think it looks like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Akira had a booze-induced threesome, procreated a few dozen times, and puked all over my wardrobe.

There are sweaters and jeans in every color of the rainbow piled high on wire shelves next to cardigans, blouses and skirts hanging haphazardly or crumpled on the floor.  Garments that were trendy eons ago—flared pants, jean mini skirts, gaucho pants—are stuffed in the back, never to be worn again.

Then there’s the section reserved for all five of my favorite pieces: a mini dress, skinny jeans, a high-waisted skirt, a sheer blouse and an oversized sweater. And guess what: They’re all black.

The truth is, I have plenty to wear. I’m just uninspired and spoiled by a fashion industry that satisfies my “need-to-have-it-now” mentality. I recycle the same few outfits every week even though I have an entire store crammed into my closet. Because I feel I have nothing to wear, I impulsively shop. Trendy, cheaply made items fill a void that isn’t really there, and a few weeks later the cycle


I’m not alone, as most Millennials have grown up never knowing how to truly appreciate quality. The average American buys 68 garments and eight pairs of shoes annually, according to the latest statistics from the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Divide that among four seasons and that’s about 17 pieces and two pairs of shoes each. Besides the shoes, because you can never have enough, doesn’t that seem a little excessive?

Of course, dressing is more about living in the moment rather than patiently saving up for garments that will last for more than one year. Retailers like H&M, TopShop and Zara now follow a quick response model of production called “fast fashion” that drastically cuts the time from design to consumption. Stores change their floorsets in a matter of weeks, and seasonal trends no longer match up with natural seasons. It’s great because we can wear the same trends seen on the catwalk, but we ultimately get less use out of each purchase. Garments from these retailers sometimes only last a month before there are holes, pilling or twisted seams.

The problem isn’t just the condition of the garments; it’s also the blatant exploitation of low-wage workers in other countries who are forced to meet the high demands of retailers. If consumers continue to be dissatisfied with what they have, it will only get worse.

I’m making it my mission to make better decisions when it comes to shopping. Yes, the inexpensive garments are always tempting, but it would be nice to practice the lost art of planning and building a quality wardrobe.