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  • Claire Kalikman


Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Wardrobe Crisis

July 2020


In a recent survey by Fashion Revolution, 45% of respondents said that the coronavirus pandemic has taught them they don’t need to own as much to be happy. Posting a new outfit on Instagram every day suddenly seems like the least of our worries. And sitting at home all day, we can’t help noticing when we have too many belongings - and that all this junk just is not necessary.


Fast fashion made it possible for us to see a trend on a runway and pick it up from Zara or Forever 21 just weeks later. Meanwhile the high-end fashion system sped up too, with some brands showing up to six shows a year. Inevitably, garments produced just a few months ago started to feel dated, and when they were bought cheaply, we justified throwing them away after a few (or sometimes, zero) wears.

Social media, particularly Instagram, compounded this issue. What started as an expectation for celebrities - that they would appear in a new, eye-popping outfit on every red carpet - trickled its way down to the average consumer. Instead of celebrating craftsmanship and quality, we let ourselves be dazzled by quantity. 

Magazines have long told us that we need to buy something new in order to feel fashionable - it helps them sell a new issue every month. But when did “10 Best Spring Trends” become “100 Summer Dresses Under $100”? It’s too much. And too much always makes you feel sick in the end.


Humans crave newness. It’s wired into our brains. You know that feeling of a shopper’s high, after you’ve scored a really good deal or picked out the perfect LBD? Seeing something new actually triggers a dopamine response, the pleasure receptor. So it can feel like new things equal happiness. Add to that the fact that seeing other people shopping or wearing their new things can spark envy, and we soon find ourselves grabbing just one more animal print midi skirt. 

As much as there’s a big conversation in fashion right now about shopping smarter, buying less and choosing higher quality garments to keep and wear for longer, the thrill of the new is emotional.

Trends may never die completely. We crave variety too much. But maybe mindless consumption is on the way out. Maybe we won’t buy that new top just because that celebrity wore something similar in her latest Insta pic.

The best garments, the ones we truly love, are often tied to a memory. Maybe it’s a fab dress you got on a trip somewhere, or a scarf your grandmother gave you. It is much harder to tie a deep memory to a $2 Primark shirt we threw in a paper bag and wore once.

Li Edelkoort, a recent guest on the Ethical Fashion podcast, suggests that the pandemic may be the force to “quarantine consumption.” Suddenly being forced to sit in our homes, surrounded by piles of stuff we don’t actually want may just create a moment of reckoning that will change consumer habits. Let us know what you think!

Claire Kalikman is an editorial intern at The Wardrobe Crisis. A third year Yale student and Fulbright Fellow, she is passionate about fashion and sustainability. As President of the Yale Fashion House, Claire piloted the student-run organisation’s first-ever speaker series, bringing in professionals from the fashion industry to speak with students.

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