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That’s why it’s so fun to shop

On average, people in the west buy ten kilos of clothes every year, which is more than anyone needs. 

If you observe your family dress you can see a pattern family members find it difficult to dress in the same garment day after day, which could relate to that there are social demands on us to vary our clothing. 

CULTURE DEBATE. “Variatio delectat”, ie “exchange pleasure”, already knew Cicero . The last time this was illustrated was in the SVT program “Prylberget”, where a family is given the challenge of wearing the same clothes for one and the same week. The hosts note that several in the family find it difficult to dress in the same garment day after day, which in the program is interpreted as meaning that there are social demands on us to vary our clothing. 

Of course, it is, but then you miss something else, more existential. Buying new (and then using it) has long served as fun and entertainment. Varying your everyday clothes is a way to create a feeling that something is happening in life. This is also what the sustainability debate easily forgets: of course, we have to change our consumption habits, buy fewer clothes and travel less often, but really the basic question is how we relate to time. Fashion has in many ways lost its historical function as a status marker.

Buying something is like putting a comma in the endless flow of time. It gives us an emotional kick that makes us feel alive by if only briefly, breaking the monotony of everyday life. Of course, fashion contains social factors, but the fact is that in the last twenty years, clothes have become cheaper than they have ever been, which has contributed to fashion losing its historical function as a status marker in many ways. 

The majority of people today are dressed in astonishingly cheap (and ugly) clothes, made in remote low-wage countries. On average, every person in the west buys ten kilos of clothes every year, which of course is more than someone needs. The reason is that it is fun to shop. But why do we feel the need for this type of extra stimulus? 

The answer can be found in the construction of the modern-day: eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep and eight hours of leave. Production and consumption are simply different sides of the same coin. A serious criticism of consumption must therefore begin with questioning the work culture of our time.

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