As I get older my tastes change. I’m into new music, suddenly I enjoy seafood and wine, and the thought of surviving on 4 hours of sleep like when I was 16 is exhausting, however one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is my relationship with designer labels.
As far as I can remember I’ve always had some kind of fascination with fashion, especially designer fashion. I remember back in school doing a whole art project around the detailed synopsis of The Devil Wears Prada (yes, really). Something about the magical-yet-unobtainable fantasy of living in this world where £6,000 coats made from the worlds finest materials would pass you by on the daily was the stuff dreams were made of, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that world, that fantasy somehow. Fast forward about 10 years and suddenly I’m an adult, with a salary, rent to pay, dreams to chase and, apparently, seafood to eat. If I think back to what my life was like when I was that boy it’s dramatically different, but that deep-routed love for designer fashion is still there. At least, I thought it was until recently.
Over the past 7-or-so years I’ve acquired a lot of designer items, at least much more than the average person of my age (and upbringing). From my first YSL wallet (pictured middle below) that I picked up in NYC when I was 21, through to my YSL brifecase (also pictured below) that I proudly purchased in London, and various other items currently sitting in my wardrobe, you could say that this is verging on a fetish, or obsession. There is a certain rush that you get when you see hundreds of pounds leave your account and you know that whats in that special box is yours. You almost trick yourself into believing the person who is serving you is your friend, and they’re proud of you for spending that money, like they’re accepting your plea to let you join their special club. The reality is, they can see through it, and when you get home and a few days have passed, that £550 transaction is still sitting in your credit card balance, and everyone else has moved on with their lives.
Now you have a right to spend your money on whatever you want. It’s your life, your money, your hours you work to obtain it, and I’m simply speaking from my own experience, but as I’ve gotten older my focus shifts from what material items I own more to what experience I’m giving myself. Goals shift from being able to look at a cabinet full of expensive items, to being able to look at a photo album full of memories, songs that place me back in a moment, and experience that enrich me beyond what any card holder could. At least this would be the case, if it wasn’t for the situation these items have put me in.
Now the goal here isn’t to sound bitter, it’s more to be self-aware, but I purchased most of these items on credit, because it was an easy way to instantly obtain what I wanted without much thought of the consequences. I grew up in a family full of debt, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, but It’s something to recognise. The ‘buy it now pay it later’ mentality is fine, if you truly plan to pay it later, and I didn’t. I planned to buy these items to continue an external image of something I wanted to be – rich, powerful, important.
These items helped me continue in the dream that I was part of the club I wanted to be in when I was 16, writing that synopsis of The Devil Wears Prada, wishing I was the one in the Chanel boots, or that I could rummage through the closet of Vogue one day. Now I’m all for a little daydream, and some indulgence every now and then isn’t harmful. My love for designer fashion hasn’t gone away, it’s more that my own consciousness won’t allow me to fall back into the rabbit-hole of purchasing that caused me to be in this current situation, which is being 26, with a handful of debt, no chance of buying a property before I’m at least 35, and having to skip out on many, many plans because I need a full year to get myself back on a path to normality.
One of my favourite YouTubers, Eva In The City, made a post recently around why she was selling her Chanel Reissue 2.55, which was one of, if not her most beloved handbag. I’ve been following Eva since the start, when I used to watch the likes of Trina, Ashley and Robin religiously on YouTube as they un-boxed items I could only dream to own. Over time Eva’s content grew as she got older, and I grew with her. Being only a few years younger, living in the same city, and without having the obviously rich family background, I related to Eva a lot, and to see her content grow from Louis Vuitton reviews to travel vlogs was exciting. I felt the shifts she was feeling without really ever connecting the link, and when she made the video around selling her bag because she wanted to be more conscious of her own financial responsibility, as a form of self-care, I was shocked.
This was the first time I ever heard someone very openly, and honestly, discuss their relationship with fashion, luxury and money. It made me sit back and think, was the £7,000 of debt I was in worth the image I was trying to portray, or the connection to something that was all surface level? The answer was very quickly, no. And a self-discovery path very quickly ensued.
Where I am at today, I’ve sold a vast amount of my own designer items, such as the card holder pictured above, wallets, coin purses, scarves, pocket squares, and so, so much more. The trick here is that I haven’t departed with anything that I believe has value to my life, or that I feel like I would regret parting ways with. I still own my YSL briefcase, because out of all my items, that was the thing I wanted for over 8 years, and the thing that brings me the most joy when I use it, but a lot of other stuff I had simply to have, has gone, and the money has been applied straight into the debt that I owe.
I have a long road ahead in order to clear myself of it all, and it’s a very hard lesson to learn, but one I feel is vital. Luxury fashion is still fun, but there are ways to bring it to your own style without causing you to have sleepless nights over financial turmoil. Be realistic with your limits, £1,200 on a bag isn’t realistic for most people, get the bag from ASOS for £40 instead, because that extra £1,160 could go to so much more in your life to enrich it.
High street fashion has always been in my life, but it’s now here in a new context, one where I want to have fun with it. It’s no longer something I look down on, or something to use just for staples. A lot of stores are doing interesting, cool stuff for prices that I can actually justify spending, and while this may not be a revolution to 99% of the public, to me, I found it to be exactly that.
As you can see, I’m still rocking the Gucci sneaks, but the rest of the outfit is all either high-street or hand-me-downs, the leather jacket was stolen from my Dad (thanks Dad!), and the rest was from ASOS or River Island, and if you ask me, it looks great.
Moving into 2019 I’ve made it a goal to be much, much more financially aware of my spending, and to get myself to a spot where in 2020 I can save, and go on holidays, to raves (etc) without feeling guilty about my situation.
And who knows, maybe in 2020 I’ll be able to pick up a few designer pieces here or there without having to impress anyone but myself.