I Went To London and Bought NOTHING
So let’s discuss how fast fashion continues to fail, okay?
(DISCLAIMER: Author is very much aware of her privilege while writing this piece but is going to go for it any way and hope she doesn’t come across sounding like Veruca Salt).
A long time ago, London was my fashion haven. So much that I used to dream about it when I was away. In February 2000, I arrived off a plane from the US with my sister and upon this trip, we fell in love with England like we never had before. This trip would result in both of us moving to England at separate times on multiple occasions and many, many visits. In early 2000, there was no place I’d rather be than London. The fashion was hot, the stores were unique and generally it was the most inspiring place I had ever been. On our trip we discovered Topshop (where I no longer shop due to their incredibly unethical owner), H&M, Selfridges (my favorite) and many others. We went home with only a few items (we were young and spending money didn’t grow on trees) but we vowed to come back.
For years when I arrived in London it was time to get your shop on. Often I would save all my spending cash for my trips because why bother with the malls? When I was in my twenties and working in fashion in London, I was probably better dressed than I had been in my entire life. Fond days indeed.
Now it’s 2017, a mad man is President of the United States and my boyfriend is English which means I spend half my time in London yet again. Long distant relationships are hard but this is the easiest relationship I’ve ever been in. But here’s what’s changed. I no longer shop in London. It is no longer worth it. No matter how weak the pound grows it always has an edge on the dollar, which means it’s never cheap … but it used to be SO worth it. Now everything looks the same no matter where you go in the world and the quality of the clothing available grows cheaper by the minute. Fast fashion and globalization have utterly ruined what was probably a good thing for London … people who came to shop. Because I couldn’t have been the only one. There will always be people who shop and the UK has some brilliant upscale brands to offer. I visited the Burberry outlet and it was ransacked. But ask anyone you know and they will tell you that high street fashion has been barreling downhill in the past ten years. The fabrics get worse and worse and these days, call it growing older … I just can’t wear things which feel flammable. Which knocks out half the stores at Oxford Circus.
The stores which remain have better quality but the price tag often hits the same mark as an Etsy artisan who hand makes each garment, so for me there’s simply no argument. I cannot continue to support unsustainable business practices when there’s a seamstress in Bulgaria who supports her entire family and employs several of her neighbors to hand make unique garments (in plus sizes too) at the same cost of something from an upmarket high street chain. To me, there simply isn’t a choice. Now that we know how dangerous fast fashion is for our environment/the workers to pretend it is the only and best option is willful ignorance.
So that is how I visited London and left having purchased NOTHING. Who ever thought that day would come?