Long time, no see!

Well, it’s been way too long and I’ve definitely missed this space. There have been many instances in the past few months where I started putting my thoughts into words but then backed out. I finally came to the conclusion that I am still trying to make sense of this process and there is never going to be a right time, so I might as well get a start on it :)

Here’s what happened in a nutshell – I purged. I took my clothes and accessories and makeup and gave away almost 80% of it. And so, I didn’t know what to write here anymore.

Here’s the full story! (I’ll try to keep it short but you might want to get yourself a cup of tea or coffee)

A few months ago (I think May of 2018), I was lying on my bed facing my four door wardrobe lost in my thoughts. Out of nowhere, I opened all the doors of the wardrobe and stood there in disbelief. How could a small person like me own so many clothes and accessories? How could I occupy such a big space? The thought bewildered me and for a few minutes I stood still. Seeing everything in that space felt like a burden on my shoulders and soon, I was in tears.

For a person who truly believes in recycling and reusing her clothes, I had a few pieces of clothing that I hadn’t worn in few months. Even if I did wear most of them, the idea that I owned so many items that could fill this big wardrobe did not make sense to me anymore.

And so, I purged. I took all of my clothes and accessories on the floor, went through each item one by one and kept only those that really made me happy (or, as Marie Kondo would say it, sparked joy in me!). Three hours later, I had downsized by wardrobe to less than half of what I had before. But something still didn’t feel right. There was a tingling feeling in my back that I couldn’t get rid of.

I picked up my diary and started scribbling down my thoughts. A few pages later, I had quite a few “Ah! that makes sense” moments. I realised that my relationship with such materialistic things have changed over the years. I was never the person who would shop unncessarily or not wear items from my wardrobe. Mostly, if not always, I bought things after putting some thought to it. That being said, I did end up with a lot of similar looking outfits or items that were trending at the time.

When I dove into the world of tailored clothes a few years back, I was more conscious of the outfits I was choosing and if it reflected my identity or not. This was a change in the way I thought about clothes. It wasn’t about the quantity anymore but also the quality. I was putting more thought into what came to my wardrobe, how it belonged to my style and how I could reuse it with other items. Even then, since this was a new world for me, I somewhere lost my way and started hoarding tailored clothes!

When writing down my thoughts, I came across another memory that I had forgotten about. During my post-graduation, we read about the textile industry in Bangladesh in one of my development studies classes. We read articles and watched videos of how the workers in this industry were made to work in inhumane conditions with less-to-nothing wages. And this wasn’t limited to just Bangladesh but a few South-east Asian countries.

If I go into details about it, this could turn into a novel. If you’re interested, The True Cost is a brilliant documentary to watch on this subject.

Also, another fact that blew my mind: Fashion industry is the second largest in generating waste after the oil industry.

That picture stayed with me through all these years and was one of the major reasons why I grew more conscious about my shopping choices.

Another thought I found in my scribbles was the minimalist way of living. By this point, everyone has read and heard about The Minimalists (another documentary worth watching). I’ve been followinng these guys since quite a few years and have tried to put their advice to action in whichever small way I could. It made me realise that I want to gather experiences rather than materialistic items. While I am in no way a minimalist (frankly, I am quite far away from that point), the thought behind it excites me and I am always looking to learn more about it. Purging my wardrobe felt like the easiest way to get a start on this.

This sparked another change in my relationship with materialistic items. I no longer craved for buying that red lipstick that I was sure I needed or that pair of palazzo pants that I just couldn’t do without. These things did not bring joy to me anymore.

Howver, after I purged, I realised that clothes stopped bringing joy to me completely. I would wear just about anything that I could get my hands on. Since I had limited items in my wardrobe now, it became even easier not to think about what to wear anymore. I was not creating outfits which I used to enjoy doing before. A few weeks into it, I realised I did not purge to make myself feel devoid or unhappy. So why was I not happy with my decision?

I realised that I was tired – learning about this industry, sorting through my own ideas about it and explaining to others why I did what I did had made me tired. That’s when I took a step back! I stood in front of that wardrobe again, looked at the items that I had kept and told myself that this is what I wanted from the start. I went through the entire wardrobe again – clothes, makeup, bags, shoes – and I realised that they actually belonged to me. These were items that truly reflected myself, they were a part of me. Taking my time to understand and believe that helped me to find that love again.

With this changing relationship, I did not know what I should write about on the blog. This space was never about just clothes for me. Fashion, in itself, is a mindset rather than a lifestyle for me.

So what happens now?

I am still learning about this new relationship, reading books and articles, following people with similar ideology, building my own opinion about it. I am not even close to where I want to be and I am in no rush to get there (well, I am in a little bit of rush because the Earth is bearing consequences far worse than we can image). I still shop from known brands a few times here and there. I also source cloth and have them tailored to my choice. But I am now more aware about my habits and my choices. I know more than I did yesterday and I am happy with that for now.

As for the blog, I do have ideas that I want to share in this space. Since this blog was never only about fashion for me, I am figuring out what happens next.

When I shared my story with others, there were a few questions and opinions that came up quite frequently:

So, do you not shop anymore?

I do. Clothes do make my happy and I still love styling them. But I am more conscious of what I bring in to my wardrobe. I also happen to have a lovely group of cousins and friends who are happy to share their outfits if I need.

You’re still buying clothes from the mall. How did purging make any difference?

Well, nobody is perfect. I am still learning. The ultimate goal is to have clothes that are made with sustainable fabric and from brands who believe in fair trade and treat their employees right.

Oh you’re another one of those millenial minimalistic hobos!

Umm, okay.

Don’t come knocking at my door asking me to purge my wardrobe!

While I do enjoy a good wardrobe organising session, I am in no way asking anyone to get rid of their clothes or not to shop anymore. This is just the way I want to move forward and how I see my relationship with materialistic items, especially in the fashion industry. If you do want to talk about it, let’s chat!

You’re still generating waste and consuming products from other industries.

I am. Change does not happen overnight. I am more aware than I was yesterday and that’s good enough for me for now.

If you are still reading, thank you for making it so far :)

If I haven’t said it before already, I am not trying to point fingers at anyone or asking you to get rid of everything. I am simply sharing another chapter of my life :)

Picture credit: Karan Singh. You can find him on Instagram here or here.

Until next time,

xx Surbhi

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