Once upon a time, I only bought clothes on sale. In my late teens, I loved nothing more than raiding the sale rack at Supré and digging through the bargain bin at City Beach, and I would save all year just to splurge on a shopping spree on Boxing Day. I used to be proud of the hauls I came home with, fast fashion binging on as much as I could with my little $100 kitty. It was less about what I bought and more about how much I could get.
In my early 20s, I was still addicted to sales, but I started dabbling in op-shopping. I was paying off a mortgage and working two jobs just to get by, so op-shopping was more of a necessity than a niche past time.
By my mid-20s, I was well on my way into the world of slow fashion, and I'd started educating myself on ethical wages and sustainable production. I was starting to understand quality over quantity, but I still had a fashion addiction. In 2016, I spent over $6500 on fashion and it pains me to share that. That's an overseas holiday or a Facebook marketplace car. My wardrobe spanned multiple rooms of the house, bags in storage, boxes under beds.
In an effort to curb my insatiable appetite for bargains and sales and discounts, in 2017, I committed to buying only Australian made clothes, because surely, it would narrow down what I could buy and force me to buy less. It didn't work. I bought more because I could justify every purchase with, 'Oh but it's Australian made!'.
I'd tried just about everything to distract myself from a good bargain and over-buying, but by my late 20s, I was running The Fashion Advocate and felt like I had to look the part. I was advocating for ethical wages and using my work to try and rehabilitate myself from my addiction to discounts, but I was still lured by a good sale.
So, in 2018, when I was 29, I went cold turkey on fashion. I had to roll up my sleeves, commit to something huge, make it public to hold myself accountable and sacrifice all those little short-lived hits that the discount rack would give me. In 2018, I bought no new fashion. Nada, zilch, nothing.
Yep, you read that right. I didn't buy any new clothes for 365 days, except for one $9 pre-loved outfit from Vinnies for a client's fashion event, some undies and a pair of socks. Did I have a positive environmental impact? Hell yes. Was it hard? Hell yes. Will I ever do it again? Probably not.
Why? Because having a healthy relationship with fashion isn't about breaking up with it and blocking every fashion website from your web browser or looking the other way every time you walk past a store. It isn't about buying nothing for a year or only buying second hand (although they're great world-saving challenges to try).
Having a positive relationship with fashion is about only buying what you need and buying well when you do shop. It's about loving your wardrobe and living in your favourite pieces, getting wear after wear after wear out of something and still loving it just as much as the day you bought it. A healthy relationship with fashion is also about understanding a garment and how it came to be so that you can wear it proudly, and that means understanding ethics and sustainability.
My name is Claire Goldsworthy and I'm a recovering sales addict. I’m also the Founder of The Fashion Advocate and I'm on an ever-evolving fashion journey towards better. Every day I advocate for better, and it's exactly what I want to inspire you to do; make conscious choices, shop ethically, shop sustainably and buy better.
Oh, and we never have and never will run a Black Friday sale at The Fashion Advocate, sorry to disappoint. We sell ethical fashion and all of our labels charge honestly for the goods they make. What we sell is worth every cent and we don't need sales to convince you or pull you over the buying line.
If you fall in love with something you know you'll wear for years (decades hopefully!) and it's something you need, I'm asking you to invest in it, support our Australian and New Zealand labels, and proudly pay full price for it.