Why is there no fashion equivalent to the beauty hashtag #empties?

Illustration by TWYLAMAE
Words by Bianca O’Neill

It’s time we curb our enthusiasm for over-purchasing.

Last year, a British survey found that one in ten people bought clothing online simply for the #OOTD snap – only to send the product immediately back for a refund. For those aged between 35-44, the figure rose to one in five.

It’s a disturbing trend that has given rise to the burning of excess clothing waste, the manufacturing of poor quality ‘dupe’ clothing, and disposable fashion. All so we can maintain some kind of false pretence that our wardrobes are never-ending.

As an Instagrammer myself, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how my actions impact the purchasing habits of my followers. I try to spend a lot of time educating people on the reality of my wardrobe – that it’s mostly made up of vintage purchases and clothing I’ve owned and loved for years – and also saying ‘no’ to PRs who try to send me unsolicited free clothing.

So when I came across an old beauty blogger trend recently, I had a bit of an epiphany – why has the hashtag #empties taken off in the beauty world, but not in fashion?

If, like me, you weren’t aware of this movement, I’ll give you a little refresher: beauty bloggers and writers, who are sent endless product, often try something for a few weeks. Now, if that product isn’t necessarily great, they’ll often throw it away – after all, for hygiene reasons, they can’t give away half used product.

So, they started a hashtag #empties to share the products they had used all the way to the end. It’s a fascinating feed; here are all the products that genuinely worked for these bloggers and influencers – the products they *really* loved. Zoe Sugg, founder of Zoella, said about her own #Empties: “There’s something really satisfying about knowing that someone has completely used up a product.”

It’s something we don’t hear much about in the fashion influencer world – an online community that is so consumed with spon and gifted product and pushing to purchase, that it has lost sight of why people followed them in the first place.

What we really want to hear about are the long-term purchases. The ones I won’t regret. What pieces have lasted the distance, despite multiple tumble-dries? Which items do you come back to, time and time again? Who makes good quality clothing that doesn’t fall apart in five seconds?

So I’m calling for an Instagram-wide movement – one that co-opts the #Empties hashtag and applies it to fashion. Sure, we’ve seen hashtags like #rewear and #30wears pop up here and there – but they have nowhere near the cut-through of the widely used hashtag #empties.

To be honest, we don’t even need the swanky hashtag – just the willingness to make a change. A change that could actually stand for something real, and important.

A change that could really influence.

Follow Bianca over at @bianca.oneill

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