Not Permanent

About 6-7 years ago, if I needed to buy something for use in the kitchen, I thought along these lines –

  1. Try and do without it
  2. Look for the cheapest workable alternative
  3. See if my parents/others have an extra that I could take

My main logic was that I was renting, why have too much stuff  when I am moving around so much and am not here permanently. Why bother?

I made do without a blender for 3 years.

I did not have a proper cutlery set for 4 years.

I avoided getting an oven for almost 5 years (There really was no extra space for an oven in my rental kitchens).

I had very little cookware.

I used a knife I did not like for 3 years.

I had an epiphany – I kept on postponing buying things for years and lived without stuff because of some plausible move/settling somewhere else in the future. I was depriving myself of pleasure and ease for some point in future. I had been saying that ‘I was not permanent here‘ for 3 years! Even, if I did move and settle permanently somewhere, would it be wise to spend a lot of money buying everything I needed at one go? Knowing me and how much research, analysis and searching I do, it would take me months before I got everything I wanted. At least buying stuff and using them would let me know if I liked it enough to take it with me or buy the same when I moved.

This was how I started buying kitchen stuff I wanted about 4 years ago and stopped postponing to some indefinite point in the future when I had my ‘own house and was settled‘. Granted, I have made some mistakes along the way and bought stuff I never used much or did not like later on but I have also invested in some cookware that has made my life easier and made me quite happy because it is a pleasure to use.

I am not permanent here but I am not permanent anywhere. 

Are fast fashion clothes really cheaply made?

I recently read Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline. It made me aware of the environmental impact of our clothes consumption and provided great insights in how our discarded clothes are processed. However, I found recurring statements of how all fast fashion clothes are cheap and tear apart at their seams after one wash  or two a total exaggeration made just to support the author’s points against fast fashion.

I believe that it is not clothes from fast fashion that are the problem but rather the rate at which we consume them which is the issue.

So, what are the alternatives if fast fashion clothes are so poorly made? Invest $500 every single time I need or want some piece of clothing? Many people clearly cannot afford that and I do not wish to waste my money like that. I do not like thrifting and buying other people’s clothes and there aren’t many good thrifting options in Asia.

I do not think that fast fashion clothes are the only ones made cheaply and that higher end branded stuff are constructed in a much better fashion. Maybe in some aspects but overall there is not much difference in terms of cloth quality. Branded stuff is overpriced just because of the brand. Also, so many high-end brands manufacture mostly in China which is also what fast fashion chains do.

I am actually happy that fast fashion exists because it makes clothing affordable for all. However it is a tad annoying that I cannot find something I liked 2 weeks later because they changed their inventory. 

Most of my clothes are from fast fashion chains mentioned in the book – Uniqlo, H&M, Old Navy, Target and the likes. I do agree that there are some clothes that are flimsily made but I do not buy those.

Almost all of the clothes I have bought from these stores have easily lasted me well over 2 years and some are still in use. 

A lot of them cost me less than $30, some even less than $15. People would naturally take better care of stuff they spent $500 on than they would of something  they spend $20 on. I do not see why I should turn up my nose at perfectly good clothes just because they are fast fashion. None of the high-end brands are into supporting environment or being ethical but into classism and snobbishness – things I do not want to support. 

Also, if you were to check out Greenpeace’s Detox the Catwalk Campaign, you would observe that it is the high-end brands that are not into moving towards ethical fashion.

At the same time, my purchasing habits are an anomaly because I lean towards minimalism. I mainly buy new clothes when I go to the USA (Hello Target and Old Navy) or India and not so often here unless I need something specific or find something I really love. So, in a way I support fast fashion stores but I don’t buy things all the time and really don’t follow trends.

I am getting tired of all these anti-fast-fashion advocates harping on how clothes fall apart in 1 or 2 wears because they do not.  I have known some expensive Italian shoes (Salvatore Ferragamo) falling apart within months as well.

My $10 shoes from Target lasted me well over 1.5 years until they wore off. My $30 wallet lasted me well over 3 years. It is not always you get what you pay for. Why the hell would I spend $2000 on a Prada wallet unless I want to be “seen” with a particular brand and appear snobbish elite when Prada also makes its stuff in China. 

You want to be ethical in purchasing clothes? Buy less and research on ethical clothing companies. However, do not beat yourself up if you can only afford clothes from fast fashion chains because they aren’t that bad when chosen well.