No Shopping: Selina Ho's Experience

Brandy Wine Falls in Vancouver, BC. Photo captured by @ mrvincredible

Brandy Wine Falls in Vancouver, BC. Photo captured by @mrvincredible

At this point you’re probably sick of us promoting our Recloseted No Shopping Challenge, but we are going to do it one more time! For those of you that haven’t heard, we are challenging you to stop shopping from January - June 2019. Join us to end unnecessary consumption, help us right the harmful fashion industry, and save money! Sign up and accept the challenge.

To inspire you to sign up for the challenge and show you that it can be done, we are excited to have our Founder, Selina Ho open up about her previous consumption habits and how her two no shopping experiences led her to become a more conscious and sustainable fashion consumer.

PS: If you accepted the challenge, check your email to make sure that you opted-in to our newsletters (the opt-in email was sent from “hey@recloseted.com”). We PROMISE not to spam you— we want to make sure you get all the content and support we plan to send your way throughout the course of the 6 month no shopping challenge.


Selina at Brandy Wine Falls in Vancouver, BC. Photo captured by  Emel Photography .

Selina at Brandy Wine Falls in Vancouver, BC. Photo captured by Emel Photography.

shopaholic selina

I’m nervous and excited to open up about my (dark) past as a fast fashion consumer. I’m going to write this very candidly and be as honest as possible because if I can change (and show you that it can be done), I hope that it can inspire others to become more conscious about their clothing choices as well.

My name is Selina and I am a former fast fashion consumer that only saw the glitz and glamour of the clothing industry. In the first episode of the upcoming Recloseted podcast that will launch at the beginning of April (you heard it here first!), I will go in-depth into my fast fashion journey. For the purposes of this blog post, know that I wasn’t always the “perfect” sustainable and conscious consumer, and if I’m being transparent, I’m still not 100% there. It’s something I work on everyday. However, I no longer impulse shop, or use shopping as a stress reliever. I’ve become more intentional with the clothes that I own and bring into my wardrobe.

This post will outline what caused my behaviour change and my takeaways from my two no shopping experiences. After reading my journey, I hope it will prompt you to sign up for our 6 month no shopping challenge, and/or spur reflection on your own shopping habits.

what sparked conscious fashion consumption

As someone that LOVES nature, sustainability has always been something I advocated for. Year-round, I’m finding ways to get up to one of Vancouver’s mountains. I am an avid hiker in the summer and snowboarder in the winter. Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment after you reach the peak after hiking for hours, or carving down fresh powder off the side of a mountain, or taking a serene and peaceful walk in the forest. I know many of us love and enjoy various aspects of nature, but there’s no Planet B. This is it. It’s all we get. So we need to do our part in taking care of Mother Nature so we can continue to enjoy all the activities we love. However, I never really put two and two together that our CLOTHING has a negative impact on the environment as well.

After watching The True Cost and doing extensive research on the heartbreaking truths behind the dirty fashion industry (think unethical labour, hazardous materials in our clothes, millions of tons of textile waste going to our landfills…) I was horrified and deeply passionate about turning things around. That’s why I started Recloseted. To spread the word and raise awareness about the harmful fashion industry so we can collectively work to towards positive change.

But I couldn’t run Recloseted while I was struggling with my own clothing consumption. So my first step was to quit cold turkey (see my two no shopping experiences below). I also did extensive research and uncovered many facts and figures about the harmful fashion industry, but found limited tangible actions, or a concrete plan that I could execute. Therefore, I took matters into my own hands by doing my own research, developing methods to eliminate impulse shopping, and testing how I could maintain a minimal yet sustainable wardrobe. Due to the lack of reliable and complete sustainable fashion guides, I started creating my own, and The Recloseted Handbook was born. I took all my findings and theories and poured it into The Recloseted Handbook: Your Sustainable Fashion Guide — you can purchase it here!


1st no shopping experience

Overview: I was READY for my first no shopping experience. Along with my accountability partner (who was my friend Amanda— you can read her no shopping experience here), we decided to stop shopping from January 1 to April 30. I was riled up after learning about the fast fashion industry and quite frankly felt SO guilty about my ignorant and blatant consumption, so I cut myself off cold turkey. I had a lot of clothes, so I knew I could work with my wardrobe and what I already had without needing to buy new things.

Findings:

  • The first two weeks were smooth sailing. I was researching fast fashion, and pouring my heart and soul into developing the groundwork for Recloseted. In other words, I was keeping myself busy and not thinking about shopping.

  • Things started becoming more difficult when I had to go to the convenience store in my local mall. Until this point, I avoided malls and retail stores to remove the temptation. If I’m being transparent, this first trip to the mall was ROUGH. Over the years, I’ve been conditioned to wander into stores to browse clothes and often buy items from the sale section. This time, I forced myself to go to the convenience store and leave the mall without going to any other stores. When I went home, I decided that wasn’t normal and started doing a mindset shift with my clothes (which I outline in The Recloseted Handbook). This mindset shift and the exercises I did helped me develop a healthier relationship with my wardrobe and shopping in general.

  • The next challenge arose when a friend asked me to go shopping with her for an important event. I grudgingly agreed and in the back of my mind, I was really scared that this would trigger me to buy things. This is where the accountability comes into play! My friend knew I wasn’t allowed to buy anything, so she kept an eye out for me. During the shopping experience, I concentrated on finding items for her, so it wasn’t as bad as I initially feared.

  • After the four months, I realized that I saved ~$600! Before this no shopping ban, I was probably spending ~$150 every month on clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. And the money I saved, I invested into Recloseted :)

Tips:

  • While you’re doing a no shopping challenge, determine the purpose and get clear on the reason(s) why you’re doing it. For me, the unethical labour and insane amount of clothing we’re sending to our landfills really got to me.

  • When you’re trying not to shop, it’s helpful to have an accountability buddy, or tell your friends so they can keep you accountable. Having Amanda as my accountability buddy really helped. We cheered each other on and knew that if one of us cracked and bought something, we would face each other’s wraths (LOL).

2nd no shopping experience

Overview: After our first successful shopping experience, we decided to keep the shopping to a minimum moving forward. Then in September, we went to the Aritzia Warehouse Sale. At the time, I wasn’t sure about Aritzia’s sustainability efforts but assumed because the brand put out timeless designs and the garments lasted, it was okay to buy from Aritzia. However, after researching the materials in some of the brand’s clothes and the lack of transparency from the company regarding their labour, I have personally decided to stop shopping from Aritzia (which breaks my heart because I really like their business casual pieces). Since the Aritzia Warehouse Sale in September, Amanda and I have been doing our second no shopping journey and it is still ongoing. And in the 2019, I am proud to announce that I am participating in the Recloseted No Shopping Challenge!

Findings:

  • This second no shopping ban was a lot easier than the first one because I am accustomed to not shopping. Also, I had a purpose as to why I was doing this (combating the harmful fashion industry), and felt so good successfully completing the first no shopping challenge.

  • I won’t lie, I was tempted a couple of times during all the Black Friday and Boxing Day sales. However, like we put out on Recloseted’s social media, “You save 100% when you buy nothing!” So many apparel companies plugged their “insane” discounts, but if you don’t need an item and don’t buy it, you save 100%! In hindsight, it was a blessing not to be stressed out about clothing items selling out at stores and fighting through crowds at the mall.

Tips:

  • For special occasions and holiday parties, if you aren’t feeling the items in you closet, see if you can borrow something from a friend.

  • Lastly, it helps if you prepare before a shopping ban. Analyze your wardrobe and make sure you have the necessary clothing in place for your lifestyle. If you aren’t sure about your current wardrobe, you can go through the exercises in the Mastering Your Style section of The Recloseted Handbook.

accepting the recloseted no shopping challenge

I’m really excited for our Recloseted no shopping challenge! I look forward to participating with 40+ other kickass women that accepted the challenge and cannot wait to hear about all your experiences.

Ultimately, I have had a complete mindset shift when it comes to clothing, but it’s taken commitment and determination to get here. I think doing a no shopping ban allows you to see the frivolous purchases you used to make, and you end up saving quite a bit of money. After the Recloseted no shopping challenge in June, I hope that I won’t need to do these challenges anymore. Instead, I will be automatically wired to only buy what I absolutely need, and when I do buy, get something that’s long lasting and ethically made.


Othello Tunnels in Vancouver, BC. Photo captured by @ mrvincredible

Othello Tunnels in Vancouver, BC. Photo captured by @mrvincredible

conclusion

By being transparent in this blog post and walking through my ugly shopping journey, I hope you realize that if I can change my habits and live the #SlowFashionLifestyle, you can as well! It’s doable and sometimes the first thing you need to do is quit cold turkey. I hope my post, Raissa’s post, Kate’s story & Amanda’s post have inspired you and helped you realize that not shopping isn’t a big scary thing. In fact, it can help you realize that there’s more to life than new things, keeping up with trends, and aimlessly spending your money. If you haven’t already, please sign up and accept The Recloseted No Shopping Challenge. Join the 40+ other women that have already come on this journey and let’s be each other’s accountability buddies!

PS: If you’re scared to do this challenge, know that we are all in this together! Throughout the 6 months, we will send you exclusive content to make sure you continue to feel motivated and supported. You can also join The Recloseted Tribe - Sustainable Fashion Supporters on Facebook to ask questions, continue the conversation, and stay accountable.