It’s so exhausting keeping up with it all. You always try to stay up to date with what you are buying. It got to a point where I started to wonder what I was going to get out of it. After quitting my old job at Highsnobiety, I really questioned my habits. I realized that my life was full of things, and none of them really mattered to me, even though they seemed really important to me at the time. All I remember is that after all the trends I was supposed to follow and all the designers I was supposed to buy, I only had a bunch of things in my wardrobe that meant nothing to me. I felt like it didn’t fit and I didn’t enjoy wearing any of it.
How have you changed your purchasing habits?
It’s important to remember that you really need certain clothes: for example, if you live in Los Angeles, you probably don’t need a feather jacket. But if you live in London, you definitely need a rain jacket. I think it’s important to remember some of these boring things in our clothes. People often find themselves wearing the same things over and over again, and most of what’s in their wardrobe isn’t often worn out. This is definitely something you have noticed. So when I wrote the book, I really thought about it: What clothes do I need? And: What do I really love to wear?
You also have to think about the things that work for you and the things that you wish would work for you. What do you want to see when you look in the mirror? I think we often allow ourselves to be told what to buy and what to wear. It is very easy to get into a vicious circle of constant dissatisfaction with what you buy because you only listen to what other people think. It’s a good idea to step back and ask yourself some deeper questions about what you really want and what parts you really need.
The current popularity of the Nike Dunk has been likened to the “sky blues” scene from The Devil Wears Prada, in which Meryl Streep’s character spoke of the fashion industry’s powerful influence on trends.
The reason I share the Nike Dunk story is that people need to understand the impact marketing teams have on our shopping habits. If you are constantly told what to buy by influencers, magazines or brands, this will always be determined by your marketing or promotion teams. In my book, I point out that all of this always leads to an unsatisfactory cycle of not buying what you really want. You buy things the marketing department wants us to want. And this, in my opinion, will always be a dead end.
One of the main takeaways for me from the book was that I now have a much better understanding of how clothes are actually made – from the raw materials to the end result. I think many consumers are similarly disconnected from the manufacturing process. Why do you think so?
This is partly because it is so complex – and so globalized. We have the idea that something that says “Made in the USA” or “Made in China” is made in one country. In fact, there are probably dozens of factories around the world involved in manufacturing a single gown. And since we don’t see any of that, it’s easy for us to think that making clothes is a simple process, when in fact it isn’t. It’s another reason we buy so much, because we think it’s so easy, even though it’s a giant machine that spit out pollution, waste, and toxic chemicals all over the world. We just don’t see it. This ignorance is just another factor that causes us to buy more things than we really need.
You’ve included a story in your book about how to shop online to “calm nerves” when borders are temporarily closed during the pandemic and you can’t go home. What made you decide to include such a personal moment in the book?
Shopping can be a very emotional experience, and we turn to it when we feel like we need a distraction or want to cheer ourselves up. Hence the term “retail therapy”. And this is just another factor that causes us to subconsciously buy things that we don’t actually need because we are anxious, stressed, or sad for whatever reason. You end up going shopping to relieve the difficult feelings you are feeling right now. It was easy for me to share that. Yes, I have bought things in the past just to feel better. My point was that I didn’t want to preach these shopping commandments as if I had all the answers.