An award winning media company committed to sharing the perspectives of people of colour from marginalised genders

How to resist the Boxing Day sales and get your fashion fix sustainably

26 Dec 2019

Photography by Collis

When I think of Christmas, I think of kitsch jumpers and decorations, cheesy music and films that don’t fly any other time of year, and even worse: crowds of shoppers in Oxford Circus. Sure, the area looks beautiful lit up, but I get so overwhelmed by all the queues and shopping bags that I end up avoiding it until the new year. I’d rather be in the depths of a cosy café sipping hot chocolate, or better yet, tucked away in bed watching Netflix, far-removed from all the shopping. 

Through spreading yourself too thin across commitments to family, friends and colleagues – you can overcompensate in the panic of it all – overspending on party outfits, Christmas jumpers, Christmas crackers, place cards, food and meticulously wrapped gifts for people that never even show up to the occasion. 

The UK produces 30% more waste than normal at Christmas, and we can’t afford the Co2 and methane that comes along with it – our consumerist attitude at this time of year quite literally sends us into a lethal cycle. Whether it’s the 9,300 tonnes of Brussels sprouts, the cards you sent to your cousin’s cousin, the Christmas jumper you wore to a party once, or the £700 million worth of unwanted presents, we need not succumb to the pressure to make Christmas bigger and better in the most superficial ways. 

In protest against this consumerism, this year Save The Children were encouraging the public to swap and buy second-hand Christmas jumpers, and numerous bloggers and vloggers published conscious gift guides. Even following this year’s climate strikes, this chat about mindful consumption isn’t actually affecting the colossal change we need it to – in fact, we’re shopping more than ever. Mintel is predicting that December’s retail sales will amount to £48.7 billion this year, up 3.8% from last year. After indulgent gifting over Christmas, surely we don’t need more stuff?

Let’s hold on to the warmth and cosiness of the festive period and shed its plastic-y, lifeless consumerism. Let’s carry a conscious attitude towards shopping fashion through the end of year sales, and into the new year. 

If you find yourself getting sucked in by fast fashion adverts and trendy garments this sale season, take a moment for the planet and a moment for Marie Kondo – “does it spark joy?”

We’re breaking down the ways that you can still get your fashion fix, but more mindfully:

Educate yourself

Photo by Zackary Drucker: The Gender Spectrum Collection

If you’re going to change your shopping habits, you need to find out why you’re doing it. The True Cost documentary on Netflix is the perfect starting point complemented by blogs and stats via Fashion Revolution

Nurture your existing wardrobe

Photography by Godisable Jacob

Appreciate what you’ve already got to avoid mindless shopping. Start by organising your wardrobe in a way that makes things easily visible and appealing to wear. Repair or alter pieces you want to get more wear out of and swap, sell or gift what you don’t want for a fresh perspective on what you own.

Swap your clothes

Keep the same amount of stuff, but get the feeling of newness by swapping your unwanted clothes. Stories Behind Things and Swap Rebellion are great for swaps in London, but getting your mates and neighbours together for a community swap could be cheaper and a good excuse to socialise. For nationwide online swapping, try browsing the Swapsy app (think Tinder for clothes).

Rent clothes

Rent clothes for occasions and holidays, reserving purchases for items you’ll re-wear over and over. Browse the By Rotation app and Hurr Collective website for lux occasion and holiday wear. Check out The Nu Wardrobe app for the perfect mixture of high street and high-end items.

Shop second-hand, in charity shops and online

Get the feeling of newness by purchasing clothes already in existence. You can visit Mary’s Living and Giving shops for Save The Children, Traid and Boutique by Shelter for second-hand goodness in the flesh. Also shop online via Depop, eBay and Vestiaire Collective

Shop sustainable fashion brands

Consider purchasing items made of surplus fabric or with low-emission production processes when second-hand options can’t deliver. Use the Good On You app to find fashion brands rated on their impact on the environment, people and animals, so you can be sure their values align with your own.