Fast Fashion Is Exploiting Our Monkey Brains

As primates, we LOVE anything new.

We have an undeniable instinct that finds novelty irresistible. The thirst for novelty kept our ancestors alive by driving them to explore for food and water, fertile land, and new partnerships with neighboring tribes.

Today, our thirst for something new and shiny fuels the Facebook newsfeedgambling, and of course the online pornography industry.

And fashion is no exception. In fact, there is an entire corner of the fashion world strategically engineered to exploit our novelty-loving monkey brains: Fast Fashion.

Fast Fashion | definition: a term used to describe cheap and affordable clothes which are the result of catwalk designs moving into stores in the fastest possible way in order to respond to the latest trends.

How Fast Fashion Reels Us In

The secret to Fast Fashion’s exponential growth is novelty. In the past retailers would release a new line of clothing once a quarter — Spring / Summer / Fall / Winter — but now fast fashion retailers release new lines of clothing every week. They are re-engineering the way human’s interact with clothing with the stated goal of getting us to shop for clothes as often as we shop for food.

The dopamine rush of buying new clothes every week is akin to that of a porn habit — a cheap thrill that pushes you toward more and more consumption — regardless of the long-term consequences.

What are those long-term consequences of shopping? Well, for one thing — similar to the porn industry — the production of these goods has a nasty underbelly. It turns out that you can only sell $4 t-shirts if you use the cheapest labor on earthquestionable labor practices, and disregard pollution.

And as you already know… the clothes are so tempting… because they are ridiculously inexpensive!


We Need A Better Story

Here’s the problem. We’re evolutionary engineered to love novelty. That isn’t going to change anytime soon. We need a way to find novelty without abusing workers, destroying our planet, liquidating our children’s college savings, or turning our brains to mush.

Here’s the good part: True, creative, fashion —is actually a fantastic source for novelty.

Fashion is actually meant to be creative not consumed. Today, being fashionable is synonymous with buying a ton of clothes regularly. But that hasn’t always been the case. In previous centuries, being fashionable meant being creative within the restrictions of finances, materials, and resources. A truly fashionable person was the man or woman who could create beauty from the fabric they had on hand, or put together new outfits in a way that no one had ever thought of before.

True creativity actually needs restriction. Instead of seeking novelty from a sale rack — let’s turn our attention to the clothes we already have. Can you wear them in a new and trendy way? Can you layer or alter them to create a new look? Maybe you could buy one or two items that unlocks twenty new combinations? What if instead of perusing catalogues of items to buy, we perused Pinterest for new outfits?

And here’s the best part: being truly creative is far more satisfying than the cheap thrill of buying a shitty $3 tank top. The best things in life require effort — and you’ll feel the difference.

My Challenge For Us

So I’m challenging us — let’s be people who create beauty that come from our hearts — not the sale rack. Let’s develop a real skill at fashion. Let’s buy quality clothes when we need them, then do the real creative work at home.

And when someone compliments you for your style, you don’t have to say “thanks, I got it at H&M” — which is essentially saying “Thanks, my monkey brain got conned.” Instead, you can smile, knowing that they are appreciating something that came from your own creativity.

What is Cladwell? Cladwell is a tool that helps guys take control of their clothing. We’ll help you dress your best without breaking the bank, and we’ll make it easy for you to transition from acquiring clothes to maintaining your wardrobe. But you’re not a guy? In that case, check out Capsules for women.