Renewed Collective

Our Editor’s ‘No New Clothes’ Challenge for 2022

Going out and buying clothes whenever we want is a privilege, and for most of us happens on a regular basis. A new outfit for a wedding, birthday or special event is always needed right? What if you were forced to get creative and wear what you already own for a whole year? This is the challenge I have set for myself in 2022 – buying no new clothes.

Where my journey began.

My journey to a more sustainable and ethical closet started a few years ago. I watched the documentary ‘The True Cost’ and it was eye-opening to see what was happening within the fashion industry, especially when it came to fast fashion. I made a promise to myself to reduce my clothing purchases and avoid fast fashion altogether. If I needed to replace something in my closet I would do my research and buy from a sustainable business creating quality timeless pieces made to last. I haven’t been perfect but I’ve made some huge changes which I’m really proud of.

The fashion industry has evolved over time, going from two seasons a year – Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer to now fifty-two seasons a year. Yes, one every week! Fast fashion companies are releasing new ranges every single week of the year, changing our attitudes and desires towards clothing. Creating must-have pieces every week. How are we supposed to keep up?

By purchasing cheap, low-quality clothing they have created a throwaway society, where you wear the item a few times and then it can be tossed away, or left forgotten in the back of your wardrobe as you go out and buy that new must-have item. They have transformed our relationship with our clothes and created a disposable industry where it’s cheaper to throw the item away then repair it.

What happened to mending and repairing our clothes? Generations before us would invest in pieces that would be worn over and over again and then repaired and mended when a hole or tear appeared. Now when we purchase a $10 shirt, it’s cheaper to throw it away and buy another one.

Sewing and mending clothes by hand as an alternative for the no new clothes challenge

The pollution of the fashion industry.

A 2021 report from the World Economic Forum identified the fashion industry as the planet’s third largest polluter (after food and construction). From the supply chain to the end product, the fashion industry produces more CO2 emissions than both the shipping and aviation industries combined!

When you consider the various processes required to create a piece of clothing, from the raw material, to the manufacturing, production and transport, you might be surprised it’s the fibres that are responsible for the most emissions. Almost two-thirds of clothing use synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon. These fibres are non-renewable and created from fossil fuels – most commonly crude oil. 

Over the last few years I have seen some wonderful companies be created, producing sustainable and ethical clothing, not only with recycled textiles, but focusing on the entire production and manufacturing processes, ensuring every aspect of their business is helping both people and the planet.

My goals during the challenge.

Over the years I have curated a wardrobe that I’m proud of. It’s not huge, but has everything I would need to get me through all the seasons in Perth. We don’t have snow, very rarely freezing temperatures during winter, and the 40 degrees in summer just means less clothes! My wardrobe is a mix of old fast fashion pieces (some from more than 10 years ago when they were made better!), some gifts, a few pre-loved items, and more recent sustainable pieces that will be part of my wardrobe for a long time into the future. 

My purchasing has reduced over the years and I’m very intentional with what I buy, and who I choose to buy from. I have previously taken part in the Slow Fashion Movement campaign for 3 months of the year, where you purchase no new clothes for 3 months straight. But I want to challenge myself further.

On those days when I’m looking in my wardrobe and feel like I have nothing to wear, I want to be creative and choose items that aren’t my usual go to’s. I want to finally teach myself how to use my sewing machine and alter clothing into something else so it feels like I’ve got something new. A dress that isn’t comfortable and doesn’t quite fit right anymore, into a skirt that can be worn all year round with a top or jumper. 

Challenging ourselves forces us outside our comfort zone in a good way. It forces us to be creative and inventive. 

I will be sharing my journey throughout the year and I hope you will follow along and take something from it. I hope you learn something about the effects the fashion industry is having on not only our environment, but the people who create the very clothes you are wearing now. Also, just because I won’t be purchasing any clothes this year doesn’t mean I’ll stop sharing the great sustainable businesses helping change the fashion industry for the better! I want to help provide that alternative for you when you really do need that new item for your wardrobe.

Are you up for a challenge? It doesn’t have to be drastic, but how about one month? Or even one week? Or just stopping fast fashion and saving up for that investment piece that will last in your wardrobe for years to come?

Stay tuned for updates and challenges I come across during the year! Plus I’ll be sharing more about the environmental impacts of the fashion industry and how we can make a difference.

Check out my updates to the ‘No New Clothes’ challenge here and here. Plus find out if I successfully completed the challenge here.

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