What one fashion stylist learned when she banned herself from shopping for ONE YEAR

Love clothes but disheartened by the ethics of the fashion industry? Discover what online personal stylist Luisa learned when she banned herself from shopping for one year.

I’m a professional online fashion stylist and editor. As a strong advocate for sustainable fashion, I provide my audience with essential lessons in fashion and style to help them shop smarter and choose items that suit them perfectly to prevent them wasting their money and causing textile waste.

We hear a lot about upcycling and revamping old clothes, but how manageable is it really? Is it honestly realistic for the average person to repair and re-wear any item in their wardrobe? Or is it really only a practise best suited to skilled designers and seamstresses?

Last year, I made a drastic decision: I decided to give up shopping for clothing for one whole year. I’m now two weeks away from the official end date of the challenge, and I have learned so much. (And, in case you were wondering, I didn’t cave in once!)

Why did I give up shopping for a year?

One year later after starting the challenge, I still have a business and I’d even stretch to saying that my already on-form creativity has benefited as well.

Obviously it’s my job to select and style clothing and accessories well. I don’t buy on impulse or buy things that I will never wear. My interest in starting the journey that I named The Ethical Style Project was to challenge myself and to demonstrate my progress to others.

Fashion for me is a form of art and self-expression, as well as a powerful marketing and branding tool. But I’ve never agreed with the unethical side of the fashion industry. I feel that many areas of the fashion industry are very old fashioned in their habits and beliefs.

Does ‘luxury’ fashion have to cause pain and suffering?

Is luxury fashion really luxurious if it causes pain and suffering? What enjoyment does anybody really gain from wasting their money on fast-fashion that is neither flattering nor good quality?

I started educating myself on sustainable fashion in 2015. Since then I’ve been very aware of the negative environmental impact caused by mainstream fashion production. I completely boycotted all fashion and cosmetics that weren’t vegan or cruelty-free, but would still buy from fast fashion stores if and when I saw something I liked.

However, I started to notice major flaws in the quality of their clothing and accessories. My fashion design and sewing skills were basic but evident at that point but I was by no means an expert. Yet, some of the stitching on the garments I saw in high street shops was worse than what I could do by hand!

I remember picking up a shirt off a rail – the stitching was unravelling so bad that I thought it might fall apart in my hands. With quality like this, I knew I wouldn’t miss shopping for a year, if I could only teach myself (and perhaps others) essential lessons on how to revamp clothing that we already own. Thus, The Ethical Style Project was born.

How I successfully quit shopping for a year

It’s really easy to get pulled into perfectly curated product displays. Sometimes a white t-shirt looks so much better when worn in a mannequin in a collection display.

I will let you into a little secret: it’s just clever styling techniques! When I first pledged to quit shopping for a year, I didn’t avoid going into clothes shops because I didn’t want my challenge to affect me socially. Instead I used these trips as inspiration and research trips for new DIY projects that I could also share with my following.

When browsing the shops, I realised that the main difference between a basic t-shirt costing £10 and £30 was just a few strategically placed beads. That cool slogan t-shirt that you love but your bank balance wouldn’t? Make it! Just get some fabric pens or an iron-transfer and create your own.

I used to love designer handbags. During this project, instead of splurging on designer bags I’ve made my own quirky totes and clutches out of placemats and scrap materials. And guess what? More people have actually commented on them and complimented me on my style than ever before.

So as you can see, the year has actually flown by through creating wearable items from everyday materials and revamping fashion items that I already own.

How I am redefining luxury fashion

Dressing well in clothes that you love is the new luxury fashion for me. My manifesto is:

“Fashion is less an exhibit of beauty,but more an expression of who we are, what we believe in,our personal values and how we can influence people!”

In order to shop smarter, dress better and be more sustainable, you need to:

  • Shop with purpose.
  • Wear it well.
  • And focus on what it is that makes you feel your personal best.

Through my personal endeavours and in my work I am redefining luxury fashion. If you look up the term luxury fashion, the definition revolves around ‘superior fashion’ and has nothing to do with price tag or the materials used.

Luxury fashion is an experience. When you look and feel your personal best by wearing clothing and accessories that suit you perfectly, this is a luxury!

You can read more about Luisa on her website

Photo by Cam Morin