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“Nothing to Wear”: The Rise of Consumerism in Modern Society

Online shopping is a huge global platform that’s used by millions of individuals. Huge firms such as Pretty Little Thing, Missguided, ASOS, SHEIN and Boohoo are expanding immensely. According to The Daily Mail, SHEIN sells approximately 30,000 items to Britain everyday- that’s more than ten million a year.”

Teenagers are remorselessly targeted in which clothing is cheaply made by these brands which allows people to buy more and pretty much empty out their wallets. Technology plays a huge role as industry analysts claim that “SHEIN app is significantly more popular…with 12 million worldwide downloads in the past months alone.” The consumerism culture is continued today encouraging people to buy more without entering a store. Online shoppers are benefitted especially those who purchase more due to their mindset of having “nothing to wear.”

Huge SHEIN trends are unethical – there is a vast hold that hyper speed fast fashion trends have on this generation. We live in a consumer culture that conditions us to love trends such as Hoodie with a Blazer trend that was huge in 2021 but then hate them after the trend settles down. The trend was seen on celebrities like Hailey Bieber and LeBron James. Individuals should be more mindful about buying into trends like these as it just ends up filling the landfill. We live in a society where we have “created a monstrous 52 fashion micro-seasons.” The best antidote to consumerism in this case scenario would be to slow down.

We now live in a world where we regularly characterize ourselves and others by the possessions we own, don’t own or what we wish to own. A vast amount of time and money is spent thinking about what things we are going to purchase, how we are going to pay for them as well as what we are going to do with those purchases after we acquire them. These current societal consumer patterns are embedded in the world around us that we hardly realise the spiral of implications that all these decisions have on us.

Conscious consumers bring that unconscious spiral to a level of awareness. This consists of being aware and being conscious that helps allow make these consumption decisions, supporting us as individuals to feel good. And yes, that means purchasing less sometimes or it could mean adopting more sustainable attitudes or just bracing approaches that will affect issues like climate change at a more structural level.

Boredom is a major factor that results into unnecessary and additional clothing purchases. In the United States, a survey that was conducted demonstrated that the number of online shoppers went from 209.6 million which was in 2016 to approximately 230 million in 2021. This was most likely achieved due to the Covid-19 lockdown as many stores were closed which only left one option, to shop online.

Pretty Little Thing, which is now ran by creative director, Molly-Mae Hague was criticised for selling clothing items for less than £1 during Black Friday in 2020. The sale was shown to be unethical as there were items for 20p and even 4p after a 99% discount. They were slammed as “disgusting.” Even though the idea by the brand was tasteless, despite the criticism, they still managed to prove how successful the sale was- “I really missed out on that PLT sale… I want a whole new wardrobe for £4.59 too.” Outfit Haul and Try on videos done by many content creators on Youtube, Tiktok and Instagram such as Molly-Mae Hague, Angwi Tacho, Jordan Lipscombe and many more all influence mainly the younger generations too feel the need to buy more regardless of expense. The trend of hauls and try on videos stimulate hyper consumption at a level that is deemed as unacceptable. It encourages the idea that you are unable to wear the same clothes again as well as inculcate the idea that you can never have enough clothes. These videos portray immoderate ideas for teenagers by thinking you need every pair of shoes and accessories to co-ordinate every single piece of clothing. Going back to the rise of clothing brand, SHEIN, it is happening in the same cultural context in which the conversation around fast fashion was shifting and so it is in part fuelled by the same disposability that is underlined by these outfit change videos.


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