My journey from Serial Shopping to Slow Fashion

Just 3 years ago,  I used to love shopping for clothes. I would spend hours browsing through stores and online shops, buying new clothes every week to keep up with the latest trends or just because it was such a great deal, “I can’t believe its only RM5”. But as I accumulated more and more clothes, I started to realise that I had a problem: I was a clothes hoarder and a serial shopper. The thrill of bringing multiple new pieces back home to add to my wardrobe was replaced with feelings of being overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I’d accumulated. The thrill of having something ‘new’ to wear created the need to constantly need something new each time I went out. It got harder and harder each morning to get ready because of the insane amount of choices.

It felt like I was drowning in clothes.

I suddenly felt the need to declutter, but that was hard because I was still sentimental about a lot of the pieces. So instead I went for the easier option, to stop bringing new things into the mix: to simply avoid browsing online sales, to avoid going into clothing stores at the mall. It was hard at first, forcing myself to walk past the stores, flashing with their big red sales signs, but it got easier. Soon enough I could allow myself to go inside and not come out with 5 different things, which was an amazing progress. 

When I really needed something, I began saving up for better quality pieces instead of getting quantity (which I always used to do). I started buying from small local businesses instead of brands like H&M or Forever 21. I started wearing older things in my closet that I forgot about but realised fit perfectly and looked great. I asked myself the questions before a purchase; would I wear this 3 times a month, would I love reaching for this daily, would it match what I already own, is this a good quality piece that I could pass to a friend later on.

I was finally swimming up to the surface.

I began to tackle the clothes I already had, that I hadn’t worn in years but still wanted to keep.

  1. Trying them on: If it didn’t fit perfectly and I wasn’t comfortable wearing them for half an hour, it needs to go. Realistically I’m not going to reach for pieces that aren’t comfortable or flattering.
  2. If I thought I’d wear an item but hadn’t for a few months, I put it in a separate drawer. I challenged myself to wear an item from that drawer daily for the next month. If I didn’t manage to style or wear it by the end of the month, it would have to go.
  3. If I liked it alright but also didn’t mind giving it away if I got money, I’d post it on my story or carousel immediately and put it to the side.

Then I started doing research on where to give away my clothes, from that I found Beli Nothing, a Facebook group with the concept of giving things away for free to be shared with the rest of the community. It was definitely an easier method of getting rid of things, which helped me to get to the point of actually giving things away. It was nice knowing my clothes would go to people who actually want them, and who would use them.

I was floating on the surface, finally at ease.

Fast forward to last year, I found a volunteering opportunity with Fashion Revolution Malaysia during their Fashion Revolution Week. It was to help set up their art installation, a big fashion landfill, but I ended up joining a lot of the activities and talks at the same time. I learnt so much there, about how bad fashion pollution is and the detrimental effects of fast fashion. 

A few main takeaways that shocked me:

Reference: https://www.instagram.com/p/CcVN-0jJpiv/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

  1. In a span of 22 months from 4 states in Malaysia, 3.6 million pieces of clothing were collected.
  2. In a single day in Malaysia, 5.7k pieces of wearable clothing are being cast off.
  3. Yearly, more than 100 billion garments are made while 87% of textile waste is being sent to the landfill or incinerator. Only >1% are made into new clothes while the rest are used for insulation, fibre or rags.

What had the biggest impact on me however was the sheer amount of clothes from the landfill art installation, that we had to set up and later taken down. Knowing most of those pieces were bought and then discarded without a second thought, not actually going to the underprivileged as hoped but in actual fact going to landfills, that made me rethink my whole concept of what happened to my unwanted clothes and realise that our community was already so burdened by the weight of our bad consumption habits. It’s not as simple to just give it ‘away’.

Unless you’re giving it to a friend, family or someone directly, ‘away’ might in actual fact mean a landfill.

I think that really solidified my stance on fast fashion and throwaway culture, and choosing to not be a part of it, at least not anymore. Don’t get me wrong, every so often I swim under the surface and end up getting a new piece or two, but it’s a lot better than my consumption habits 3 years ago so it’s still a win for me. Over time, I know my habits will constantly improve. I just have to be patient and conscious of my consumption habits, which is what anyone can do really.

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Mikhaela Maria Panachery
Mikhaela Maria Panachery

Mikhaela is a social media manager, content creator and model with a passion for sustainability. She does marketing and sales for Upcycled by Fuze Ecoteer, a social enterprise focusing on managing plastic waste in rivers and oceans while also creating content for Remedy, a sustainable skincare store and Triptyk, a sustainable bar. In her freetime she runs her own page on Instagram @prettyshadesofgreen dedicated to inspiring people to adopt a sustainable lifestyle and sharing tips/tricks she’s picked up along the way.

Mikhaela Maria Panachery
Mikhaela Maria Panachery

Mikhaela is a social media manager, content creator and model with a passion for sustainability. She does marketing and sales for Upcycled by Fuze Ecoteer, a social enterprise focusing on managing plastic waste in rivers and oceans while also creating content for Remedy, a sustainable skincare store and Triptyk, a sustainable bar. In her freetime she runs her own page on Instagram @prettyshadesofgreen dedicated to inspiring people to adopt a sustainable lifestyle and sharing tips/tricks she’s picked up along the way.

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