TURNING 25 DURING NATIONAL OP SHOP WEEK
By Teisha Deckker
Last week was National Op Shop Week. Events all around the country slammed the breaks on fast fashion and encouraged everyone to have a go at slow. It was also the week of my 25th birthday, and in the spirit of this happy coincidence I thought the best way to celebrate my quarter century would be by donating a quarter of my wardrobe.
Op shopping works both ways after all, and who could resist a spring clean just in time for Spring?
The Age of Instagram has rendered a large portion of my wardrobe redundant. And although I’m certain not everyone is keeping tabs on each outfit I wear, the very thought of my ensembles immortalised on social media is enough for my cost-per-wear to stagnate.
Twenty-five years, 25% less closet.
The idea behind this rabid reduction is simple: I have too much stuff and I refuse to wear some of it for the most superficial of reasons. These clothes are just sitting there. They're not making me happy, but could make someone else happy.
Then there's the practical side. Cramming it all in has become untenable and one of my wardrobe doors has broken in the effort. Rifling through the hangers I’m made more aware that for the past decade I have not been the most conscious consumer. While I have endeavoured to treat my belongings with a great deal of care, and most of them are well preserved – showing just enough signs of love for their age – there's far too much.
I’m certain I don’t need, have never needed and never will need 18 pairs of jeans. 13 shirts. 34 bras...
It’s hard for me to admit but of the visible items, I only wear a handful on repeat.
Yet, in my mind I have lists of things I still need to get. Things that will make this work, or that better. It doesn’t help that online shopping makes fashion whims that much easier to act upon.
It’s easy to keep accumulating more; less so to maintain less.
I keep wanting, I keep buying. The collection grows. I never wear it all. I remember the quote “I wish you enough.” I don’t recall where I heard it but it’s stayed with me because I have enough, more than enough and yet here I am conforming to the insatiable consumerist society to which I belong.
This year I want to embrace the adage of less is more. I want to make more conscious choices about the things that I buy and give something back as well. I’m horrified to think of my clothes going to landfill, but that's where Australians send 85 per cent of their unwanted textiles.
If you don’t use it, you lose it. Perhaps by hoarding for decades until the whole mess becomes too difficult to handle and you just give up and chuck the lot, or you die and someone else chucks it for you.
I need to be ruthless. Let’s face it: the shift to thrift is not a tectonic one. It makes sense to donate good quality things we don’t use before they become moth-holed messes. Perhaps even before they go out of fashion. Hanging onto things ‘just in case’ rarely comes in handy anyway.
Introducing well-preserved, good quality garments into the op shopping cycle is a win-win. It allows some lucky shopper a spot of guilt-free fashion acquisition (pre-loved clothing uses no virgin resources after all) and the good stuff is less likely to end up landfill too. Obviously op shops aren't the magic solution to unsustainable fashion, but they can certainly help.
Thrifting my unneeded threads is my first step towards eco chic. What will be yours?