My year of no shopping

From about July 2017 to August 2018, I didn’t buy any clothing, shoes, or other fashion accessories, other than replacing a few t-shirts for sleepwear/lounging. More than a year of not shopping or buying much of anything material-wise.

I was already well into my year of no shopping last year, having started unintentionally, when I came across Ann Patchett’s column about her year of no shopping. I realized I was doing something similar without meaning to, but decided to keep going and try it out myself. My starting this was due to a combination of a few factors:

  • I was about to start working from home, so didn’t anticipate needing new clothes
  • Having done most of my shopping online the past few years, I was tired of buying stuff just to return 90% of it (and not be quite satisfied with most of the 10% I did keep)
  • I had plenty of clothes – enough to not repeat outfits for a couple of weeks (a very subjective issue, how much clothing is enough – but I thought it was enough for me at the time)

Once I read Ann Patchett’s column and realized I was doing just that, I decided to keep up the experiment for a year myself. The last items of clothing I bought were a couple pairs of chino trousers from Gap, because I wanted to avoid just wearing sweatpants every day. They turned out to be of terrible quality – stretching out a whole size, dye washing out unevenly after a single wash and creating white streaks on the fabric. A good way to cement my decision not to shop for a while, you could say.

Since this wasn’t a personal challenge or anything, I didn’t force myself to stay away from shopping websites or avoid places with opportunities to shop – sometimes I just like window shopping (browser shopping?), and I like and appreciate clothing and style. But I’m also a pretty disciplined person, and for me part of habit enforcement is not forbidding myself from doing something. And as noted, I did buy three t-shirts sometime around April this year to replace some holey ones for sleep and loungewear, because of need. But otherwise, I didn’t buy any wearable item of clothing or shoes or any accessory.

Here are my takeaways – read on after the break!

Read moreMy year of no shopping

How Old Navy has better quality than Dolce & Gabbana

A woman wearing a dolce and gabanna dress
Dolce & Gabbana Dress

My family knows a number of people who run dry cleaning businesses here in the U.S. My dad recently spoke with a dry cleaner owner who had to pay out a $2,000 claim to a customer, after the cleaning didn’t go well for her Dolce & Gabbana dress.

How did this happen? Shouldn’t professional dry cleaners know how to clean clothing properly? Why didn’t they look at the care instruction label?

Of course, the answer’s not so simple.

The thing is, it’s often impossible to know how to clean and take care of designer clothes properly. Luxury clothes aren’t made with lasting quality in mind; for better or for worse, artistry and aesthetics are the main concerns. Fabric performance, testing, and quality control aren’t a high priority, and the clothes that get made reflect that. Unlike mass-manufactured clothing, care instructions aren’t developed and tested to see if they’re appropriate. Designer clothes aren’t made with practical concerns, like cleaning, related to actual wearing of clothing in mind.

In contrast, mass-produced garments have to go through many rounds of decisions and inspections before they reach the market. Fabrics are carefully developed and created to ensure they hold up under wear and tear. Inspectors review every step of the garment-making process for quality control. Then additional performance testing is done by a third party lab, which test sample garments to develop care instructions that are appropriate for the items. All of these steps work together to create clothes that meet various standards for consistency, and ensure adherence to industry standards and the ordering company’s specifications for mass-market garments.

Let’s learn more about the contrasting approaches to garment making between large producers and small-lot production for high-end designers. You’ll see they’re almost entirely different industries, even though the end product is similar in the form of clothing. You might see how the operations are so different, that they might as well be considered different industries altogether. Read on to find out more.

Read moreHow Old Navy has better quality than Dolce & Gabbana