Cometh the 15th June, Cometh the New Consumer.

28 May 2020

So, the shops selling non-essential items are due to open on 15th June. It has been widely suggested that our shopping habits may have changed and that we will emerge from lockdown as a more discerning bunch.

To us at BB, this feels like a good thing especially where fashion is concerned. During lockdown so many of us have cleared out our cupboards and have tried to re-appropriate the things we no longer want, like or have a need for. The obvious places for much of this surplus stuff are charity shops who will no doubt struggle to reopen in short order given the average age of the wonderful volunteers who staff these outlets. When they do open it looks as though they will be inundated with donations made up of what?

Charity shops used to be hunting grounds for hidden gems. The odd designer piece perhaps. This is no longer the case. These pieces are now generally sold online by the owners leaving most charity shops overly full of mass-produced items that were purchased so inexpensively there is little resale value left in them.

Where clothing is concerned, charity shops are often now an intermediate space where stuff is stored and then eventually moved on to other processing systems such as being sold by weight and shipped abroad, often to Africa. Although this still raises much needed income for the charities, it also undermines local trade in the places that take up the goods we don’t want.

So, what is the true solution to all this surplus stuff and how might our habits have changed in the last couple of months?

Well, if we really have had a proper declutter hopefully we are enjoying what we have decided to keep. Given that this also means we have freed up a bit of space then why would we want to start filling it up again as soon as the shops reopen? Now may be the time to reconfirm those resolutions about buying less and buying better. Our resolution is sure to be tested when the stores reopen with unprecedented (that word again) discount sales as they seek to sell the backlog of stock.

During lockdown many of the luxury houses have stepped up to the plate and turned over workshops, labs and factories into PPE production plants.

In the UK, Burberry is helping to deliver masks to the NHS, making hospital gowns in its Yorkshire trench-coat factory and amazingly funding research at Oxford University into a vaccine, as well as donating to UK food charities. Like the vast majority of businesses, the bottom lines of the luxury houses have been severely damaged by little or no sales. Curiously, many at the top of the price ladder in common with a few at the bottom have no ecommerce presence.

Moving forward though, unlike many mass fashion retailers, luxury houses are quietly confident that as trade resumes there will be a renewed appreciation of what it takes to design and produce a top quality product that is less about novelty and all about craft and longevity. The sort of product that is not in and out of the shops quickly to be replaced by more of the ‘same but different’ in an effort to constantly have us wanting and buying more.

Do we want to go back to our old ways? Better for our purses, (that will have felt the pinch), and the environment (that is suffocated under the weight of our consumerism), to now finally and determinedly put into practice the mantra coined by Dame Vivienne Westwood (in 2013!!!), “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.……”

A few things of the new habits we will be honing as we emerge from lockdown:

  • Buying even less.
  • Considering every potential purchase and testing its worth in our lives and in our homes.
  • Learning more about the craftsmanship that goes into making fine clothing and accessories.
  • Practising what we preach by renting more ourselves and therefore buying less.
  • Understanding that it is not always a good deed donating a bag a month of fast fashion to a charity shop, if this is our way of conveniently disposing of unwanted clothes that we perhaps didn’t need in the first place.

And always –

Working to make our handbag rental service and product choice even more appealing to our clients, so that renting starts to become part of the regular narrative about fashion and less about it being a trendy idea.

Best wishes,

Team BagButler

“It makes sense to rent”

Tina, Founder of BagButler