The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The World is on Fire, but We are Still Buying Shoes

December 8, 2023/12a

That is the title of the book written by Alec Leach, former Highsnobiety Style Editor. Leach’s book focuses on the vicious cycle of consumption fueled by the obsession with fashion as a form of seasonal change. As someone who has devoted time and effort to the fashion industry since high school, I can confidently say that I’m out of fashion, at least for now.

It is hard to imagine the not-so-bright side of your favorite jacket or your pair of jeans — how an essential part of your life, the thing that you touch and wear every day, the thing that lifts you up whenever you feel down, the thing that carries not only monetary but also memorial values — could conceal an unpleasing truth. But every industry has something to hide away from the spotlight, and the fashion industry is no exception.

Several studies and environmentalists condemn fashion as one of the most polluted industries on the planet (data). While journalists and professionals have shed light on the concerning impacts of the fashion industry, it seems like we, the consumers, cannot entirely get away from the alluring aura of clothes.

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Consumerism appears in its finest form in fashion. A clean, white, ‘100% recycled material’ shirt could be made by the hands of an underpaid worker who might have to work more than 18 hours a day in unqualified conditions. The world might remember the Rana Plaza collapse, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the history of Bangladesh, with a striking death toll of 1,134. Turns out, the shirt is not that clean and white, and perhaps not even made from recycled material either. Several fast fashion giants, such as H&M, have been debunked for false claims and misleading marketing strategies to promote their garments as green.

As a consumer, I must confess that I used to never feel ‘enough’ with my clothes. I tended to buy new clothes every chance I could, just to abandon them or give them away after a few wears. I remember having boxes and boxes packed with clothes yet finding nothing to wear. Just to mention that I still love the creativity and craft that fashion conveys. I still love to try new styles and get my hands on beautifully crafted clothes, but at that time, it seemed like the platonic love of fashion had turned into an obsession with staying relevant.

While sitting on the cold floor, surrounding myself with mountains of clothes, I realized that I had wasted a decent amount of money on several pieces that I didn’t even need or had worn more than five times. I could not help but wonder: where will all these things go? The answer was clear: straight to the landfill.

So, this season, I decided to put a period on the excessive waste that I ‘might’ create in the future.

I decided to ‘narrow down’ my daily wardrobe, limiting it to the number of sixty. Yes, in my case, 60 items are decent enough to cover a daily wardrobe (undergarment pieces are excluded). I tend to focus more on the quality of the garment: what is it made of? Does the collar stretch? And finally: do I really need this?

The final question is the toughest, so I give myself a period of time to think about the purchases. In three days, I would search my closet to see if I already owned something similar or not, then look at the garment’s quality to see if it would be worth the price. I have learned not to rush when it comes to shopping, and seasonal sale events such as Black Friday might not be a perfect time to shop.

Unless you have prepared a well-curated shopping list, seasonal sales hit your pocket by rushing you to make the purchase as soon as possible. That is it — if you do not get your hands on these items right now, they will slip away and never come back. In these cases, sometimes the low-price tags might speak louder than quality and personal needs.

That is why I decided to take a step back this Black Friday season. I have come to realize that there is no reason to rush for things that you don’t need or don’t suit your style. It does not mean that Black Friday should be a no-shopping Friday. From a consumer perspective, seasonal sale events are still good chances to get my hands on ‘wishlist’ items; but the motto is: take it slow. If the items don’t speak to you, let them slip away.

I am not an environmentalist, but my burden of clothes is a reminder that the less we consume, the better; not only for the planet but also for us. The fashion industry might be lousy with noises, from green marketing to annual sale events that try to whisper into your ear and urge you to buy more.

While we cannot put all the weight on consumers’ shoulders, I do think that consumers have the right to make changes. It does not mean that we must abandon our stylish jackets and turn to a ‘frugal’ life. It means that we need to turn down the noise of excessive consumption and learn how to value the true creativity of fashion.

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About the Contributor
Quoc Huy Ngo, Arts & Leisure Editor
Hi! This academic years Arts & Leisure editor is Quoc Huy Ngo. Writing is one of his passions and he has been writing for more than one year. Besides writing, reading is also one of his biggest enjoyments (especially anything about art and the fashion industry). During his downtime, he loves to clean and decorate his space, spend time with friends, or just chill and enjoy tiny, beautiful things in life. Thank you for all of your support. 

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