The fault of the purchases, a bad fashion.

For them, shopping has become too guilty to be a pleasure. Scruples, shame and even shame, so many symptoms felt by these consumers who now consider fashion as a harmful industry. An incurable pathology?

Overflowing cupboards without us knowing exactly what, accusations of human exploitation in ready-to-wear factories, dozens of alarmist reports implicating fashion in climate change… Here is the disturbing floor of “Köpskam”, literally: ” the shame of buying. Highlighted by the Swedish consulting firm HUI Research, this concept reflects an increasingly widespread malaise among consumers, caught between their wants and needs and their moral conscience. How did this disease arise and can it be cured? Chronicle of a change of mentality.

The drop that overflowed the closet

In May 2019, Marine, 28, was returning from a long trip through Latin America. Six months in which she is in charge of a travel agency, she concentrated all her belongings in a backpack. True to her ritual that she follows on each of her trips, she is about to buy a pair of Vans as a memento of her. But this time, when paying, she makes a remark that freezes her: this pair, she already has. “I said to myself: This is ridiculous, I don’t even need it,” she recalls. She takes off her slippers, goes home and decides to empty her closets.

The same observation for Delphine, 43, who for years made monthly purchases, before being overwhelmed by a sense of overflow: “You realize you’re drowning, you don’t know what you have anymore and you always wear the same thing. And then, it’s not so ‘cheap’, the clothes you buy to not wear”. She is a committed content creator on Instagram, she now supports her community towards more responsible consumption. More than 70,000 subscribers, often lost and overwhelmed by these new ethical questions.

painful shopping

When not talking about clicks and excesses, those displeased with purchases speak of moral, ecological, but above all social conscience. For Dinah Sultan, a fashion designer at the prospecting firm Peclers, the recent questioning of brands in the Uyghur trade has catalyzed this phenomenon: “There we touched on something very serious: slavery and genocide.” A coup de grace for the textile industry, the sentiment is universal and makes even the least radical react. “When I see stories that highlight abuse, I immediately stop buying.” testifies Isabelle, a 60-year-old Cannetanne who does not consider herself a committed consumer.

“Personally, I still feel guilty about maintaining an unhealthy system. »

Dinah Sultan, fashion designer

For some, the guilt is such that it leads them to a total rejection of consumption. “For years, I have hardly bought any clothes, let alone new clothes, and I still feel guilty,” admits Aurélie. This director of research and CSR confesses to having felt such discomfort recently after a box that she ended up giving away and reselling her embarrassing loot. “Personally, I still feel guilty about maintaining an unhealthy system.” Dinah Sultan also confesses. Before synonymous with an act of pleasure and satisfaction, buying is compared to a false step, an immoral deviation.

The causes of this reversal of the situation are multiple. In recent years, economic models based on globalization and fast fashion have flooded the world with low-cost clothing that satisfies an immediate desire. By decorrelating purchase with need, they partly blamed consumers for clothing bulimia. Opposite, a form of militant environmental ideology massively activates these levers of guilt thanks to the dissemination of reports and shock campaigns, instrumentalizing the conscience of the client to achieve its degrowth objectives. Two opposing mechanisms, but both based on the psychological manipulation of the consumer. Ideally guilty, the latter bears a responsibility that, ultimately, may not be entirely his. But then, will you never be able to find pleasure in buying clothes again?

cure evil with good

This new phenomenon is obviously a topic that alarms players on the field. The reinsurance processes and the race for certification are put in place to restore the trust but also the pleasure of the clients. Organic materials, “made in France” labels, positive value statements… The brand’s communication is now mainly oriented towards ecological awareness. “The teams that make up these brands think like this and also feel guilty for not changing their practices as quickly as they would like,” says Dinah Sultan, from the Peclers trends cabinet. But they face years of practice around globalization.”

“For years we were isolated from the production circuits. We must not neglect the temptation part. »

Delphine, content creator

On her Instagram account, Delphine advocates freeing herself from guilt: “For years we were disconnected from the production circuits, remember. We must not neglect the temptation part. Point out excessive consumption instead of overwhelming consumption, think about the useful life of the garment (can it be reused, resold?) and simply the nature of its purchase as the Bisou method highlights: so many thinking mechanics that cure the dreaded shopping fever. An unprecedented intellectualization of the act of buying fashion. Both the cause and the cure for this shopping malady, the information race is giving birth to a generation of savvy shoppers.

The search for the label

Thus, the purchase of an eco-responsible piece, validated by a survey and/or a deep introspection, arouses a new pride. The era of social networks democratizes small designers and promotes sharp pieces, a factor of differentiation. The younger generations are becoming experts. it is second hand and on the hunt for THE piece to have. Similarly, proponents of essentialism preach a “tasteful thing to do” replete with “good” authoritative and enduring essentials. So many practices that reach their limits in large sizes, small budgets and simply lack of time. “Sobriety, you have to be able to afford it,” concludes Dinah Sultan.


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