PETALING JAYA: Davina Goh is always impeccably dressed, regardless of the occasion. Yet no one would guess that the emcee has not bought a new attire in three years.
“The very last item of new clothing I bought was a dress in March 2017. I was an online shopaholic then, ” said Goh, 36.
After watching The True Cost, a documentary on the impact of fast fashion on the planet, she joined a growing number of fashionistas who have stopped buying new clothes.
Goh said she wept as she watched the documentary showing how modern slaves were brutalised and dying in sweatshops in Bangladesh just to make her clothes.
“It was devastating. I decided to drastically cut down on my spending on fast fashion. I had enough about feeling complicit in grave social injustices just for the sake of looking nice, ” she said.
Despite swearing off retail shops, she said there is no shortage of places to update her wardrobe. Instead of shopping malls, she seeks out second-hand stores, clothing swap events, dress rental services, charity shops or the closets of her friends and family.
Goh said she loves second-hand shopping because she feels special to wear something that has a story.
“It’s not uncommon to find branded goods in great condition at really affordable prices. I’ve gotten an authentic Karen Miller sweater for RM15.
“I tend to avoid fast fashion items, as I know that they are not made to last and get holes or tears easily. I seek out artisanal items or luxury brands, as I know that the quality is much higher and I will value them more, ” she said.
For project coordinator Gedeon Lee, shopping for second-hand clothes can be tricky as it is difficult to find clothes that fit his size.
Nonetheless, he finds it fulfilling.
“The part about this lifestyle that I enjoy most is that it makes shopping more interesting. I have become much more conscious about every article of clothing I buy; its origin, value and how it pairs with the rest of my wardrobe.
“I also feel satisfied knowing that my shopping helps the environment in my own small ways, ” he said, adding that he started this journey 10 months ago.
The zero waste practitioner said he decided to live more sustainably after watching the popular series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
“It was overwhelming to see how many pieces of clothing a person could own and how our capitalism market is alluring consumers to buy more than we actually need, ” said Lee, 26.
It spurred him to apply the Zero Waste 5Rs principle to clothes shopping – refuse buying new clothes, reduce the need of buying new clothes, and reuse old clothes that he owns.
He said the transition was easy as wearing second-hand clothes is part of Malaysian culture.
“We receive hand-me-downs from older siblings. It is not a new concept, it is not as big a change as most people imagine.
“I encourage everyone to try taking up this lifestyle whether fully or partially. You will be surprised by how much money you save and the environment will thank you, ” he said.
However, the idea of wearing strangers’ clothes does not sit well with everyone.
Writer Jagdeep Singh, 33, said he cannot accept wearing stuff from complete strangers but is fine with hand-me-downs from family members.
“I think it’s just psychological. I don’t know who wore those clothes and where it had been, ” he said.