The Culture of 'Wear-It-Once'



"Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them." - Marc Jacobs

Music festivals have become one of the biggest contributions to cultural life since the 1970s. With annual events, such as Glastonbury, Coachella and Burning Man, popular throughout the USA and UK, it has established an experience that people anticipate towards. A stage that they need to prepare for.


People willingly invest in outfits that extend far beyond their daily wear, with the value of importance placed on these occasions. As a result, 350,000 tonnes of outfits end up in landfill every year, equating to the cost of £140 million in total. This increase the carbon footprint of the already eco-anxious industry and it is unnecessary.


Fashion is a core involvement in the experience and new clothes mean an exciting new change of character to these events. However, is it necessary to strive towards this?


Cause of Culture


Fashion situates at the heart of identity and the centre of consumerism. The growth in social media became a driving force of social pressure, which we needed to obey. This contributed to seeing repeating outfits as a 'crime' and this often links back to the unseeable barrier of classism. The way people dress conceals a hint of financial status subconsciously. Hence, encourages the frequent, 'seasonal' change of closet to flow with the current course of fashion.


Self-expression is the principle of fashion. However, the emphasis of chasing for the new is often focused on the idea of control and possession. The consumerist fashion trend feeds into the behaviour of inner conflict and competition against others. Altering integrity into materialism. The current outlook has caused many to have a constant craving for new content. As the creator and the audience. So, it cycles around the feeling of never-ending dissatisfaction.


The narrative of seeking individuality in fashion has been a tug of war between self-definition and trends. A certain sense of anxiousness about belonging and social confirmation play a psychological game of self-worth in the issue. More than 33% of women consider clothes to be old, thus not wearable after 3 times of use.


As it goes a lot into self-image and self-perception, the more important questions ask ourselves is why can I not wear out more than once? When we enable ourselves to prioritise what matters the most to us, that's when the mindset adjusts to being truly free of judgement and wear it without pressure.


Shift in Focus


There is definitely a change within this aspect of 'Wear-it-once' culture, seen in recent years. More and more people are aware of the impacts of fast fashion and unhealthy habits within the fashion industry. A change has been made.


In alignment with the increased focus on self-care, confidence plays a huge role in making you feel comfortable in your own skin. This means that it revolves around the internal lack of affirmation on self-worth, which cycles back to less codependency on fashion as a facade to gain validation. Therefore, decreasing the need to follow trends, but dress according to own style instead.


With events, such as Coachella, the summer 'festival' fashion has been adopted by so many, that there has been a discussion about why everyone attending these events all look the same. With a demand to fulfil a particular aesthetic, this debate further highlights the mentality focus on fitting into a mould. Rather than exploring and experimenting with own fashion likings, it became an attention and validation contest, which creates a bad connotation with fashion.


As more people adopting the 'low impact' lifestyle, thrifting for clothes has been a big shift from high fashion shopping to improve sustainability. Even with important fashion events such as fashion week, many now who attend layered up their thrift finds and altering their own clothes, which becomes a much more viable, alternative option.


Reasons for Refinement

"Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There's no how-to road map to style. It's about self-expression and, above all, attitude." - Iris Apfel

Many respond to repeating outfits/ clothes as "embarrassment". The act of buying new clothes is not the main issue in this instance, the intention behind it is. As thoughts turn into words and words turns into action. If the intention of buying new clothes is invested towards the need to fill self-insecurities, the market direct towards this behaviour. Consequently, it becomes a battle and cycle around this point.


Clothes are, in the end, only fabric until meaning is given. Therefore, learning how to style is more important. Possibly, consideration of DIYs would build a more unique wardrobe than the 'wear it once' outfits to these events too. This will develop the focus towards circular fashion. A more conscious and responsible intention with the choices you wear.