But I want it!!! It is as if my life depended on it
Embarking on a mission is all fun and games until you find yourself in the trenches of a teenage shopping spree, surrounded by heaps of clothes that nobody needs – thanks to my daughter’s impeccable knack for accumulating more garments than the average department store. Little did I know, this journey started six years ago when my daughter went through a love affair with unnecessary clothing. She is now past the worst and happily buying second-hand clothing from Vinted and clothes swapping. But truth be told, I suspect I’ve been on this crusade far longer than I care to admit.
As usual, I find myself indebted to the strong opinions of my mother. Ah, Mum – She was my influencer of life choices back then, and although I did not know it at the time, I have to admit I owe her a debt of gratitude for setting me on this path, My sixteen-year-old self not surprisingly, would go to great lengths to avoid shopping sprees with her because it meant enduring her scrutinizing gaze into each and every garment I excitedly picked up.
I shudder as I flashback to my sixteen-year-old self, attempting to pick out a few pieces from the ever-fashionable Top Shop and Chelsea Girl. Little did I know, my mother would morph into the Fashion Police, armed with a discerning eye for seams and an unwavering commitment to ensuring every garment passed her durability standards. It was mid-1970 and I was about to join the resistance in the ‘war on want‘ I wanted it all because I could afford it and I could replace it easily and buy another.
Discovering the Value Beyond Aesthetics
“Look at these seams,” my mother would declare, scrutinizing a shirt I had my eye on. “This top will last you five minutes,” she’d calmly stress, a self-taught seamstress with a mission – to impart the true value of clothes, transcending mere aesthetics. My rebellious teen self would respond with conviction, “But I want it!” I would whine as if my life depended on it.
Kevin the Teenager Moments in Chelsea Girl
My teenage brain, akin to Kevin the teenager standing in the middle of a clothes shop, would huff and puff in protest. Little did I know that these embarrassing and frustrating moments would become metaphors for the arduous journey I was unwittingly signing up for – a mission to save the world, one well-sewn seam at a time. The seed had been sewn, and years later, I got it.
The War on Want: Then and Now
The War on Want continued through the decades – the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and into the millennium. Fifty years have passed since I stood victorious in that boutique, listening to a David Bowie backing track and swaying side to side, wishing my mother would disappear up in smoke as in an episode of Bewitched. Then yesterday, the respect for my mother’s memory hit me like a hot slap across my face.
Back in India
Once again I am in India, a land full of color, wisdom, fast energy, and cows – yes, cows. They meander amidst the chaos of humanity, indifferent to the hustle and bustle. On a crowded city pavement, lined with shops selling saris, scarves, and socks shaped to fit your toes, I find myself amidst the artistry of fast fashion.
The scene unfolds with men outside every shop, attempting to entice me into their small shops with promises of cheap prices. I jest, “I am looking for quality and value, not cheap prices.” Fifty years of the war on want, and my face seems to reflect, ‘It has to be the best price.’ It must be tattooed on my forehead.
The Wake-Up Call
Back to the slap on my face – a beautiful, hand-sewn green jacket caught my eye. The salesperson enthusiastically declared, “1500 Rupees!” It was all hand-sewn and the work would have taken a person several days to create it. I hesitated, feeling a pang of sadness for the person who meticulously crafted it. “Ok 1000 Rupees for you he grinned with a smile of impeccable service. This equates to about 11 Euros. The slap woke me to the realization that it’s not about value or price; it’s about greed, with no care for the true cost.
The sales guys are just trying to make a living, believing it has to be cheap. India and China produce many things to feed the greed that fifty years have taught us. Are we grateful? No, of course not. We’re caught in the ‘Circle of Want’ – a societal addiction that needs a different lesson. My mother was right.
Breaking the ‘Circle of Want’
How many of us take the time to think about who makes our clothes and the work that goes into creating them? My friend has just bought two shirts from a small workroom in Jaipur. She is delighted with them. She knows she has paid a fair price and the woman who made them is satisfied that she is happy.
Breaking the CYCLE OF WANT needs us to change our values. I ask for one change from you. Stop buying new and start learning how you can make your wardrobe last a year without buying new. I welcome your ideas.
If you have enjoyed this article, perhaps you will save some money from getting inspired. One more thing. Please go to this link http://buymeacoffee.com/daadi and pledge the price of a coffee to help a small school in Jaipur India that helps mothers learn sewing skills.