Aug 10, 2011

High Speed Fashion

...but not nearly enough clothes.

While I've always been fascinated by people who are disciplined enough to implement the philosophy of minimalism in their lives, I must admit that I have never had the inclination to follow along that road. Well... except for that one time in my life when I let my fantasies get the better of me and, for a brief moment, succeeded in convincing myself that buried somewhere deep inside my hoarding maximalist tendencies my true self was hiding in all its ascetic and Gandhi-like glory.

I had just returned from India dominated by thoughts about the transience of all things and was acutely feeling that earthly belongings tied me down. This state of mind soon prompted me to hand over to the local charity shop three random plastic bags filled with a good part of my vast and much beloved book collection. (It was precisely the intense degree of attachment I felt towards my books that propelled my urge to get rid of them. The greater the attachment, the greater the need to be rid of them. Stuff like that is exponential.)

Of course, it took me less than a week to realise that I had been completely wrong about my assumptions about my true personality, but when I returned to the charity shop ready to dole out the dough to correct my folly, I found no trace of the books.

Years have passed since I briefly lost and quickly re-found my maximalist self, and although not all of the books have been replaced, my book collection has grown much, much vaster than it was back then. Unfortunately, however, I can't say the same for my wardrobe. And as of late, I've come to realise exactly why this is. In three words: high street shopping.

Although I had a tight shopping budget as a student, it wasn't because I wasn't buying clothes that my wardrobe didn't grow over the years; my wardrobe didn't grow because the clothes I bought deteriorated at too high a speed. Very few things survived my twenties simply because they weren't tailored to last. Granted, the clothes was cheap enough to prompt me to buy it - cheap enough to make me buy it even if I didn't love it - but most of the clothes was also very poorly crafted and made out of tatty fabric that lost its shape after only a few washes.

From this experience, I've come to view high street shopping as the sartorial equivalent of crack: a quick fix that cleans out your wallet, but eventually makes you look like shit in washed-out, shapeless clothes  ripping at the seams. In a sense, the high street has made its fortune precisely by capitalising on transience and the intentioned short life span of the clothes is directly integrated in the garments it sells. I see this in at least two ways: 1) through ever-changing trends that often have nothing to do with style and everything to do with hype and 2) through poor production quality.

I should add that this is a general observation. I do actually think that it's possible to find garments of if not great then good quality on the high street. You just have to keep your wits about you to withstand the seduction. However, I have to admit that I've purposely started to shy away from the high street. With this new perspective, it simply seems too expensive and futile in the long run to attempt to build a wardrobe exclusively through high street shopping. Positively Sisyphean. 'Less and better' is my new mantra as I develop and fine-tune my new shopping philosophy and attempt to steer my wardrobe in a completely new direction. I've got a slow speed maximalist wardrobe in the making. More on that later.

Pictures: Unknown & H&M

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