What is the answer to thoughtless consumption in the post-COVID era?

Post COVID consumerism

The discussion about conscious consumption and the less-is-more concept have been around since long before the pandemic hit the world. Image by Adobe Stock.

How big is your wardrobe? How happy does wearing your clothes make you? What feels better – owning a small selection of quality pieces or buying new ones every month or so? How much of the stuff in your closet do you actually wear? The answers to these questions are relative. It depends on where you stand, consumption-wise.

For a long time the golden rule and the power engine of the fashion industry was this simple motto: It’s Never Enough. It’s never enough jeans. It’s never enough shoes. It’s never enough bags. You simply cannot survive without having that sequined purple blazer, right?

I know, it feels like so much fun to be able to shop for new things. You get this ticklish feeling, and humour a thought – what if my life is going to become better if I buy this pair of shoes? What if I become just a little bit happier wearing that sweater? And for a short period of time you do feel good, you do feel energised.

It passes, though, this feeling. Always. And then you put that sweater on the shelf and you never wear it again. Because it’s actually way too thick, and a bit itchy, and what was I thinking, and, oh well, it wasn’t TOO expensive, at least, and I might wear it sometime later, but I secretly know that I never will.

That’s the reason why we have shops full of summer dresses in the middle of winter. That’s the reason why brands discount their stock only two months after the product hits the shelves. That’s the reason why we’ll most probably buy this beige turtleneck knit that is so nicely presented on the mannequin in the shop window of a big fast fashion retailer – only $29.99!

It happens because we allow it. It happens because we think that this is the norm, that this is the way the things are supposed to be. We all have become too fast, too careless and too spoilt.

The discussion about conscious consumption and the less-is-more concept have been around since long before the pandemic hit the world. But I guess we all had to spend those strange weeks and months indoors, bored and restless, trying to first sort out our kitchen pantries, then garages and then our closets. The closets that were bursting at the seams with the stuff we hardly ever wear, all those clothes we bought just because we could and not because we really needed them or were really in love with them.

Without the need of going anywhere, with a bit more time on our hands, I’d like to imagine this moment of clarity some of us might have had, the second you realise that the way we perceive fashion, how we interact with it in our everyday lives, is neither sustainable nor smart. That not only this way of things should change, but our whole approach to the idea about the clothes we own (or want to own), how we see our clothes, how we structure and appreciate the contents of our closets, must become completely different to what it was before, it must evolve.

I keep thinking of an ultimate answer to the thoughtless consumption in the post-COVID era. Frankly, I don’t know what it is. But I feel like there is no better place to start than our own wardrobes.

Vlad Tichen is a personal stylist for women and men – vladtichen.com