This is a really interesting quote from an in-depth interview Marc Jacobs did with WWD.
WWD: We all agree that fashion isn’t about need, yet people do clip into need mode when evaluating the runway.
Marc Jacobs: There is no absolute. I might ask Nick, who works with me, “I need three new T-shirts, would you order them from American Apparel?” But I wouldn’t go into Prada or Comme des Garçons like, “Gee, I need a floral coat in fur.” It’s a different conversation if you’re a fashion person. I need to eat, but do I need to eat a five-course meal with edible flowers around the plate? That’s probably not what I need in terms of nourishment, but it’s delicious.
Two very interesting points being made here, the first in the question about how catwalk shows are evaluated based on need. It is very true – many critics and writers (myself included) look at fashion shows and often decide whether the clothes are good based on whether people should have, or need, them. But in reality, most of us looking at these shows don’t need any new clothes, and no one ever NEEDS an $8,000 coat. So it is almost a joke that we go around taking these shows so seriously, because no one needs any of this stuff – the only people who need us to buy clothes are the ones who work for the brands or supply chain and need to get a salary to feed themselves.
Which brings us to Marc Jacobs’s quote about not needing a floral fur coat. Just the other day I was talking to someone about my nightwear brand, The Sleep Shirt, and how the nightwear market is 97% bought for replacement. Think about that. 97% of people who are buying pajamas or nighties are buying them because their old ones have fallen apart.
Imagine, just for a moment, how dramatically the landscape of the fashion industry would change if we only bought clothes and accessories for replacement. How about if even for a month we only bought clothing for replacement? What would you need to buy? I wouldn’t need to buy anything. In fact, I would probably not need to buy anything for at least a year.
The fashion industry survives as it is ONLY because very few of us make a habit of buying for replacement. We buy because want want something, and hardly ever because we need it. Of course, there is nothing wrong to want something and not need it, most of us were raised surrounded with conspicuous consumption and we enjoy retail therapy. And if everyone stopped shopping, then the economy would suffer, too. But it is worth reflecting on these points the next time you shop. Do you really need that item? And if you don’t, is its presence in your closet going to improve your life – so much so that it is worth buying something you don’t need? I’ve been doing this a lot since the beginning of the year, and it feels great. My closet is free of clutter, my credit card bills are looking very good, and when I look into my wardrobe, I only see pieces I love and wear.