Mindful or Mindless: What Kind of New Year Consumer Are You?

Ellie Gallacher in New York

Student Ellie Gallacher asks you to reconsider reinventing yourself this new year in her latest article focusing on finding joy in the fashion pieces we already own. 


As the new year arrives, so does the “new year, new me,” rhetoric we are hit with year in year out. Whether it’s a new wardrobe, a new fitness regime or a new hobby, how about this year, we switch up the narrative to focus on finding happiness in who we are and what we already have in our wardrobes.


I’m all for investing in yourself, but when it comes at the expense of the planet – for me, it’s never worth it. No matter what the latest Skims campaign may (or may not) imply. Resisting temptation within our consumer-centric world is becoming more and more difficult. You make it through Black Friday, where you are enticed to buy from all directions – before you know it – it’s the new year. And who even are you if you don’t make a commitment to reinventing yourself with those New Year resolutions that are often obsolete by February 2nd? 

 Two friends in their vintage outfits at Columbia Road Flower Market.
Two friends in their vintage outfits at Columbia Road Flower Market.

Reinvention can materialise in many ways, and setting goals for self-improvement is always important. As Rick Rubin notes in his recent book, The Creative Act, “It’s a big theme in my life, learning about myself and being a better person. I’m a work in progress; I have revelations every day” – it’s only natural to want more for yourself, in whatever form this may take. For students, this feeling can be highly prevalent when navigating the path of defining yourself and your work. And as creatives, the emotions accompanying the “quest of self” are often overwhelming. 


In fashion especially, wanting to be at the forefront of trends can lead to overconsumption. This becomes even harder to avoid when the marketing geniuses behind the new year, new me narrative advance on January 1st. 


“Authenticity is the key to my fashion, style and shopping habits”


Speaking to Condé Nast student Ella Sandle, she shared some great insight into what her new year looks like and whether that comes with buying into trends. “I try to stay authentic to myself, and I feel that if I follow trend-based styles, I don’t feel 100% myself! Authenticity is the key to my fashion, style and shopping habits”. And when it comes to her spending habits, Ella tries to “only buy essentials in January. It’s always a New Year’s resolution of mine to save more too!” It seems Ella is someone to take advice from, especially if you are a shopaholic (don’t worry, it’s not JUST you!) 

Conde Nast College students in their Vogue Day outfits
Conde Nast College students in their Vogue Day outfits. Photograph by Alyssa Mullings


Shopping habits are shifting, and this is specifically prevalent amongst Gen-Z. According to Forbes Magazine, the Gen Z consumer has hugely elevated the sustainability conversation. This is evident through a survey they conducted regarding consumer and retail perception when shopping sustainably in 2023 (Forbes, 2023). And although this increase is positive… shall we say it leaves room for improvement. 


When speaking with other students at Condé Nast College, they also show an affinity for second-hand shopping for sustainability reasons. Student, Cat Hayward noted, “I try my best to shop second-hand at local charity stores and on Depop, and definitely have more recently than ever before!”


Trying to be “trend-worthy” is a waste of time. Especially when fashion is your thing. You will spend 1% of your life over the moon when somebody compliments those new Adidas sambas you bought last week,  and the other 99% catching up with what’s new and all the rage. Just a PSA to those of you still rocking your Adidas Sambas. They may have already been deemed a faux-pas by the Internet’s fashion crowd – but I’m here to tell you – keep rocking them. They’re cool, okay! 

A stylish couple at Columbia Road Flower Market. Photographed by Ellie Gallacher.
A stylish couple at Columbia Road Flower Market. Photographed by Ellie Gallacher.

The general consensus on trends from students at Condé Nast College is that trends are something they have moved away from. “I have kind of been put off by the idea of walking around and looking like everyone else,” professes student, Cat Hayward, “buying things that might not actually be my style, but doing it for the hype around it”. 


If investing in yourself does include investing in your wardrobe, there are ways to avoid mass consumerism. Buy vintage, swap with friends or even upcycle things you already have. Instead of having a day out shopping on the high street, maybe the first friend’s get-together of the year could be a wardrobe swap? Mindful shopping over mindless consumption, right?


Words by Ellie Gallacher, Second Year BA (Hons) Fashion Communication & Industry Practice student
Photographs by Ellie Gallacher and Alyssa Mullings