July 22, 2010

on the top of the most popular articles in the nyt today is "Shoppers on a 'Diet' Tame the Urge to Buy." two women decide to embark on an 'experiment' cutting back their clothes spending by outfitting themselves, for a month, with only six pieces of clothing. the article has some things to say on compulsive consumerism. the journalist called it "an outright rejection of fashion," which sounds rather glib to me. this experiment reeks of the same irrationality of privilege of detox diets, binging/purging at will, and luxury yoga retreats. sure, it's a good stunt to remind people not to be compulsive spenders, but otherwise it's annoying to hear fashion villain ised as gratuitous waste without any mention of its cultural value.

i don't want to waste a lot of energy on a response, so i'm going to pull comments to express what i feel about this.

on bringing joy:

"One of my greatest pleasures is getting up for work and choosing an outfit in the color and style that suits my mood that day. I work with special ed children as a counselor and they comment frequently on my outfits. I believe that my appearance actually brightens their day, as well as mine. I prefer to cut back on eating lunch out and could never adhere to the six piece diet plan. It would send me into a severe depression."

on options:

"There are millions of people in the world who wear 'one easy piece' for months or years at a time, and sometimes they wear nothing at all. They would be thrilled at the opportunity to, for example, have a machine launder their clothing after every day or two.

Some of these people even live in New York."

on art and commerce:

"For those of us who grew up with nuns and wore uniforms for 12 years, I can only say I love clothes.

I think they are artistry in motion. Buy them at vintage, buy them at thrift, remake hand me downs or make them yourself. Buy on sale or pay retail if you must. Each garment, each piece of fabric, each spool of thread is somebody's job. Make a budget, stick to it, but don't forget that every blouse you buy helps feed someone, even if you only shop at Goodwill. So be realistic but not sanctimonious about clothes."


"Oh and did i mention i am a fashion student? The more i study/ think about fashion the less i care about dressing up."

commerce, again:

"All this is well and fine however if those who do buy clothes decided to forego shopping what would that do to those whose livelihoods depend on people replenishing their wardrobes? Fewer consumers means stores will employ fewer workers. Fewer buyers means ordering less inventory which means factories hire fewer workers. Now granted, many of the clothes purchased by Americans are made overseas, but with the interconnectedness of the world economy, do not think for a moment that should this craze catch on in a major way that there would not be financial repercussions.

The desire to simplify one's choices is one thing but to wrap cloak it in political rhetoric seems quite self-serving. If one wants to limit one's wardrobe to six, eight, ten, or whatever magic number - then feel free to do so. However, spare the world the self-serving pat on the back. If as you say, no one really cares, then there is no need to make a public proclamation regarding one's apparel choices."

i like this:

"For me it has been more rewarding to break from the shackles of feeling defined by my possessions and instead having the power to make my own definition of what role objects, or clothing, play in my life."

"I grew up having 6 items of clothing, and they were hand-me-downs at that! I would never subject myself to that deprivation voluntarily. I love nice clothes, and could rightfully be labeled a clothes horse. Wearing nice clothes makes a person feel good about themselves, and even if its an ugly truth."

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