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13th March 2014

40 days and 40 nights

Gráinne Morrison on why she’s taking a sabbatical from shopping.

Proving you’re a good person so often comes hand in hand with proving you can do without. In the midst of the Lenten season it’s somewhat common to be feeling guilty about almost everything. For most people this guilt comes in the form of sugar, alcohol and all those other things that make life ten times better.  We deny ourselves these luxuries in an attempt to empathise with those less fortunate. For some, shopping is the greatest luxury of them all. So if you’re anything like me, you’ll know all too well the niggling feeling that comes from spending more time scrolling the pages of ASOS than trying to change the world for the better. I feel pretty powerless in the wake of human suffering, but when it comes to tackling my ‘Saved List’? I’m pretty much the Secretary General.  No matter how good my purchases make me feel, I cannot seem to shake the guilt that comes from knowing my actions support, albeit in a minor way, the suffering of others. Beloved as they may be, most high street favourites provide their garments through the exploitation of children not much older than I was when I learnt to dress myself. So I’m doing something radical. I’m going off ‘new’. Yes, that’s right, I’m abstaining from Topshop, ASOS, American Apparel, M&S Bras and even, it hurts to write it, Zara. Some people forgo fast-food; well I’m forgoing fast fashion. For 6 weeks I’m hoping to address why I’m okay with wearing clothes made through such horrible methods and whether or not I can make a change. And then there’s the obvious money saving element: I’ve been choosing clothes over food for 3 years and perhaps it’s time to start buying meat again.  Plus, we all know that with a bit of effort it’s possible to update one’s wardrobe with the help of vintage shops and lends off fashionable friends.

I am not doing this as some sort of protest against the fashion industry; I’m doing it to prove that fashion is more than Topshop’s most recent stock order or that inexplicable desire to wear something new.  The Seasonal approach to fashion has worked for almost a century; the major fashion houses don’t produce a new line every week, it’s just not necessary. If a garment is truly worthy of your money, you should be besotted with it for more than a few weeks.  In fact, the gospel of Lagerfeld tells us to “Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.” I couldn’t agree more.

I know there are much greater hardships than denying oneself new clothes for 6 weeks, but anyone who knows me will realise the magnitude of my decision.  Hopefully after these trying 40 days I will not only be a better shopper, but a more conscientious buyer.  So think of me as you click confirm on your ASOS orders. Oh and please do give my love to Zara. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.

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