How The Pandemic Changed My Relationship with Fashion


By Molly Cantwell

All in all – the pandemic has not exactly been a remarkable time for my personal fashion. Rolling out of bed at five to nine right before a lecture doesn’t exactly give you time to wear your best “work from home glam”. Pyjamas are the new little black dress and fluffy socks are the new stilettos – get with the programme!

On a more serious note, this pandemic has given us more time to examine the world of fashion. Do you really need that haul you won’t get to wear anywhere?

Over the last year, I have taken the time to examine my fashion industry purchases. A global pandemic gives you time to think. Do we need the amount of fast fashion we consume? Or are we just feeding into the capitalist agenda?

Do we really need it or are we conditioned to want it?

If you’re like me and have spent the last year in roughly the same five outfits then the short answer is no – you don’t need a seventh  €10 Missguided dress.

The fast fashion industry is one of the biggest pollutants of our time with estimating £140 million worth of clothing going into landfills each year according.

The fast fashion industry is also extremely cruel with clothing often made using child labour, sweatshops and paying far below minimum wage. Notably – two of the world’s most well-known shops, H&M and Topshop, refused to pay their suppliers at the beginning of the pandemic, meaning thousands of already underpaid garment workers in Bangalore were fired on the spot to cut production costs.

Is this the true price we pay for fast fashion?

The realisation that even when returning items you’re contributing to the wasteful nature of fast fashion hit me like a brick.

If you didn’t know – a majority of clothing returned by customers to online clothing stores goes straight in the bin! This,  alongside the cruelty of fast fashion, made me feel sick. What’s the point in recycling, composting, using keep cups and cutting down on buying plastic if we’re still hugely contributing to this industry?

During the pandemic, my love of vintage shops and upcycling has grown.

A cross between reading articles about the cruelty behind fast fashion – especially when the pandemic hit – and not wanting to indulge in the absolute mania of shops in the time they have been open has led my interests to other areas.

Of course, I’ve still had to head to Penneys to get some socks and pyjamas, but overall I’ve made a conscious effort to watch where I shop.

Numerous “fashion challenges” emerging on social media got me thinking – what do I have in my closet? It’s been a long while since I’ve had a look through the clothes that I own, and this gave me the opportunity to examine the way I could style different pieces of clothing to change their purpose.

Alternative fashion allows for creativity and unique pieces

This was the side of insta-bloggers I could get on board with, unlike thousands of Shein hauls which I couldn’t seem to grasp. Even seeing people online using the lockdown time to start up Depop accounts got me inspired!

Depop is the perfect mix of social media and second-hand shops. It allows you to sell “pre-loved” items, follow different accounts and message account holders.

It is the perfect way to offload some of your old clothing, shoes or accessories, and make a bit of cash while you’re at it!

After purchasing a few bits from various sellers, I have enjoyed my Depop experience but of course, buyer and seller beware, as not everyone is as lucky as I have been. I’m even hoping to upload some bits and clear out my closet a bit.

I think the real take away from my pandemic fashion research is that there is no need for the amount of fast fashion we consume. Quality over quantity any day – no one is going to slag you for re-wearing a dress instead of filling up a landfill just because you can.

So while we’re still in lockdown maybe do a little research and rethink the number of items you have sitting in your basket. It looks like you won’t be needing them, for a while anyway!



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