Last year, just after my birthday, I challenged myself not to buy any clothes or shoes for one year. Mr. GoodEating had given me this dress as a birthday gift and I thought: “Yeah, this is a good one to stop with.”


The idea popped in my head unsolicited and must have had its origins in a period of travelling light and time to think. Just before my birthday, we hiked the John Muir Trail in California (200 miles/322km, 38,000 feet/11,600m ascent/descent, 18 days… oh yeah and it was our honeymoon) and we needed only what we carried on our backs. Afterwards, we travelled in Brasil for a month and each brought only a small carry-on.

I exempted a few items from the challenge. I’m a runner and we are avid hill-walkers, so specialised  gear must be replaced if necessary.

This challenge is a self-indulgence, much as is shopping. It is something I can choose to do because of chance. I’m relatively safe and healthy and all my basic needs are met. What I’m doing as a challenge is what is the norm for many on this Earth and some aren’t even that fortunate. I get that.

The anniversary of my challenge has passed and I’ve been successful. I’ve not missed anything.

I’ve looked around shops and it was like looking at art in a gallery with some pleasing and not so pleasing pieces. And, like Art, the items for sale spoke more about the world and myself than the act of buying or wearing something new ever could say.

The choices we make with our wallets have long and deep ramifications for us and all fellow beings (e.g. Rana Plaza, growing and dying cotton, wool making, palm oil, etc).  So, I spent a little time researching ethical and vegan fashion. I have found a dazzling array available here in the UK (and elsewhere too, but I wanted to buy from UK-based makers/sellers and designers). As with other fashion, it spans the gamut from comfy basics to chic formal wear to everything in between.

There is no reason not to wear something beautiful and kind, so why wouldn’t I?

A few of my favourites thus far:  The Third EstateMonkee GenesMayamikoKomanaBeyond SkinBourgeois BohemeWill’sFashion ConsciencePeople TreeA Confined Space; Matt & Nat (Canadian, but available at The Third Estate)

Posted by:Emi'sGoodEating

5 replies on “One Year Buying No Clothes or Shoes

  1. i’m torn between supporting ethical fashion & only buying second hand stuff. for the last two years, i’ve almost exclusively bought second hand. still pondering…

    1. I think BOTH are GREAT options! Good on you. I love second hand as well, whether I’ve bought it directly or handmedowns from my grandmother and mother (and one dress from my great-grandmother too). I also tend to keep things a long time. I have many items that I’ve had for decades.

  2. Well done Emi for completing your challenge 🙂 I haven’t been shopping since we left to go travelling which was in June 2012 (apart from a new pair of trousers and socks to replace the completely destroyed ones I was wearing every day). It’s incredible how little we need and we can live with. I’m now looking for new shoes, mine are falling apart, they must be vegan.. still looking!

    1. Franca, and good on you too! Yes. We need very little and travel gives us the distance (literal and figurative) to really put that into practice. I’m sure you’ll find some great vegan shoes in Berlin, but if not, there are a number of online sellers that are excellent. Good luck!!

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