Shopping Smart


Column originally published January 14, 2017 - The Sunday Times Newspaper

Quality over quantity is a tale as old as time. Our mothers, grandmothers and

bougie best friends alike, all preach allegiance to the ‘less is more’ adage, but

how does that work, and what does that mean, in a country as economically

divided as South Africa? I have items of clothing passed down to me by my

mother from when she was my age, preserved well in a time where things were

better made, but access was harder to come by. When it comes to clothing, the

cheapest available options are often of equal quality, but require replacing more

often than their higher priced counter parts. If we consider the demographic of

consumer who would, by necessity, be buying those garments, we can draw a

pretty straight line from buying cheaper to buying more. How do we reconcile

the economic reality of the place we live, with the monstrosity that is the fast

fashion industry?

Every month I make a conscious decision to buy more local brands. Although

they cost far more than their fast fashion cousins, I find they are more often than

not, of a higher quality construction, more likely to be ethically produced, and

come in much more unique styles than the widely available generic instagram

staple wardrobe. On my inconsistent freelance salary, I find shopping in this way,

the less is more, suits not only my budget, my personal style, but also assuages

the guilt of participating in a highly exploitative capitalist system, at all. Being a

minimalist means that I can get away with buying fewer, higher quality, locally

made garments in neutral colours, that make for a very versatile and kind of

‘colour by numbers’ closet. Investing in pricier staples, and keeping your

personal style simple, leaves room for a little more fun and a splurge here and

there when it comes to pieces that are guaranteed to last longer, and help

diversify your wardrobe full of basics; shoes and bags are a great way to add

personality and a little flair to any look, budget or not. So I guess they were right,

our mothers, grandmothers, and bougie best friends alike.