Writer . Editor . Author
I WISH… to stop shopping. Earlier this year I made a vow never to buy any item of clothing until summer 2010. This includes any form of footwear and accessories. I’m thinking of extending this oath indefinitely. Like an indefinite leave to remain, the dream stamp on every non-EU student’s passport, I want an indefinite leave to abstain from shopping.
You see, this comes from living with very wasteful, albeit fashionable sisters whom for 25 years I have watched buying, buying and buying clothes. I have followed them round shopping malls while spacing out thinking about Discovery Channel and what to eat for dinner.
You won’t believe the kind of pressure I face from my family at home in Malaysia. Every so often when I see them, I expect to be asked about not getting a higher-paid job or a handsome foreign husband. But no, the first question I get as I land at Penang International Airport is: “You’re still using the same handbag??” My sister is in disbelief. My high-quality Nine West leather handbag is rags to her eyes.
“You’re still wearing those pants?” the other sister asks as I get home and head straight into the shower because it’s so hot. Oh the joys of returning home after a long hiatus abroad.
Do I dare to be different? This week I read Gary Younge’s comment in the Guardian on how wealthier nations like the US continue to exploit poorer ones like Haiti. Wealth is going to the areas, and I will not contribute by mismanaging mine on £229 designer footstools.
Like Barbara Wilberforce, who refused to take slave plantation sugar in her tea in the 1700s, I will refuse to buy any item of clothing in the 2010s unless torn or cannot be worn.
This is possibly the most radical choice I am going to make, one I suspect will revolutionise my lifestyle for a lifetime. With Chinese New Year round the corner, when new clothes must be worn (but honestly, who came up with that rule?), I already have my solutions: (1) wear the hand-me-downs received with wide open arms from Sisters 1, 2 and 4 because no one will know they are not new; or (2) pick from my array of oldies I have not worn in years, because no one will know they are not new. I might even be lauded for championing vintage couture.