The Timeless Style of Minimalism; Why Less Really is More.
Why being anti fast-fashion is the best style you can wear.
"Minimalist fashion means having a minimal amount of clothes in your wardrobe that feel right for you and bring joy. Minimalism is the antithesis of the modern consumerist narrative—and for good reason."goodonyou.com
Nowadays you can walk down any street and see thirty different styles and hundreds of people owning their own uniqueness. It's awesome! There's arguably never been a better time to wear what you want and join countless others in bringing back your favourite styles, from grunge and goth to 80's denim and the flared trousers of the 70's, to creating your own.
One of the few styles you'll rarely see is minimalism. Although I think it's slowly creeping back into our society, the popularity of fast fashion sites in today's culture proves its still quite underground.
So why have a minimalist style?
Firstly, we need to understand why something like minimalist fashion exists. Although it's been around a while, it really only garnered attention after fast fashion (a term coined by the New York Times when 'Zara' took only 15 days for a garment to go from the design stage to being sold in store) reached the public's ears in the 90's. It wasn't long after online shopping took western civilisation by storm that websites like SHEIN cropped up and marked the 21st century as fast fashion central.
- Fast fashion = inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.
Why wasn't it relevant before fast fashion?
It should be noted that minimalism back in the day (when it came to fashion) wasn't necessarily minimalism, more what the every day man could afford. That being said I don't think we can forget the mindset of the eras preceding the 21st century's accessibility to online shopping, revival of thrifting and most importantly fast fashion.
There were several reasons for people having less clothes, the most clear being:
- Lack of options outside traditional window shopping.
- Clothes being more expensive (ie. no fast fashion like SHEIN).
- Culture (People wore the same article of clothing regularly as this was the norm. This has changed nowadays as people often feel the need to have a new outfit daily.)
- More appreciation as a result of quality over quantity. Less buying also meant more sentimentality associated with articles of clothing.
There are immense pros and cons to the world we live in today, regarding style and fashion. Unlike back then, you can now more than likely style yourself whatever way you wish for insanely low prices off of, SHEIN, Forever 21, Boohoo, Depop, etc. For the price you're paying your options are almost limitless. Despite how great this is, it's unfortunately also where the problems start.
The main problems with fast fashion:
1. Limitless options at low prices
We've all done it. Gone on SHEIN looking for a pair of jeans and got a haul of two T-shirts cause they're $5, a jumper for $10 and a denim coat for $12. It's hard to argue with the prices and for people in a pinch, SHEIN's a life saver. But you've just spent $26 on some things you might have only bought cause they're on sale, or too good to be true (which it is) or just because you're buying something anyway. And you still have no jeans.
If you think about it, wouldn't you be better off buying a pair of jeans you really want, like and will last you at least a few months for $22 and keep the change?
2. Culture (the devaluation of clothes, both in manufacturing and people's outlook)
- “One in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old” (The Guardian, 2019)
Because clothes are manufactured so quickly and without care by big corporations, the value of clothes has gone done in people's eyes. The value in the making of clothes has gone down, simply because most people have invested in these major companies manufacturing cheap, poorly made items to match trends instead of authentic businesses.
It almost acts as a loop; people see clothes have less value and can only be worn once or twice - people buy more clothes - people see clothes have less value... and so on. It's a horrible cycle and inevitably results in people's style becoming watered down as they have to keep changing.
By choosing to buy less, you are valuing the clothes you buy far more. You don't have to have one T-shirt or one pair of trousers, but by stepping back from fast fashion and investing in quality over quantity you are setting a culturally needed precedent.
3. Environmental damage
- “Clothing production is the third biggest manufacturing industry after the automotive and technology industries. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined” (House of Common Environmental Audit Committee, 2019)
- “The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions” (UN Environment, 2019)
The pollution caused by the fashion industry, in particular, the fast fashion industry, is well documented and there are numerous articles exploring the lack of recycling, reuse of water and use of pesticides. By paying a little more for quality, not only are you getting a more reliable product but you are consequently saving the environment without leaving home! Simply abstaining from frequent fashion shopping is also helping reduce carbon emissions, water pollution and climate change.
How do I have / bring back a minimalist style while still being unique?
The best part about this style is that you can still dress whatever aesthetic you want, without wasting money on the unnecessary! You wanna go for that hippie 70's look? Groovy. How about some Y2K skater vibes? Go for it! All you have to do is minimise the amount of stuff you're buying. Instead of buying five pairs of pants off of SHEIN you may only wear twice, get two really good ones for the same price off, say, Alternative Apparel.
Your style and uniqueness stays intact; in fact it could very well become even stronger by reusing clothing items and rearranging within your aesthetic instead of buying more stuff.
Another pro is wardrobe space. A cluttered wardrobe can often lead to a cluttered life so by having fewer articles of clothing, you have less to worry about!
Can I still thrift?
If you're a fan of thrifting, don't worry! As long as you try to be more conservative with your spending, you're on the right track! The name of this game is cutting waste. Maybe when you're out thrifting, try and have something you know you really want, like, a certain coloured sweatshirt or brand. Not only will it cut on some money loss, it'll make that special find all the more special.
What about minimalist clothing?
Minimalist clothing can seem a bit dull or bland when bought individually but the beauty is the culmination of all the items together! You don't have to worry about matching different colours and vibes as white, black and brown tend to go with both each other and other colours really well. It's important to note;
You don't have to wear minimalist clothing to have a minimalist style.
That being said, diving headfirst and checking out the really cool, eco-friendly and cost efficient world of minimalist fashion might be something you'd love to do. If so, here's a few brands to check out:
A final note.
Minimalism has always been a controversial topic and definitely not a life style for everyone. Hell, it's not even one for me! However, I still strongly believe utilising the ideas core message of valuing what we have more and cutting unnecessary waste from our lives is something we can all benefit from greatly.
This is why I want a minimalist style to come back. Clothes worn three times aren't old or ruined. If you've ever saved up to get a nice article of clothing, you'll know how annoying this mentality is. It's exhausting. So wear that t-shirt again. Save up for that great looking hoodie that you know will last and wear it to death!
Bring back your favourite styles by wearing your favourite clothes more than once or twice. You'll be more recognisable, eco-friendly and almost definitely richer. The environment deserves it, your wallet deserves it and, most importantly, you deserve it!
So what are you waiting for!
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed be sure to leave a like or even a tip, both are immensely appreciated. Click the little picture of me for more of my writing. See ya soon! - Ciaran.