The thrill of buying a new item of clothing fades after just four wears, according to research conducted by Oxfam.
The research was released ahead of Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign, which encourages people to try shopping preloved for the month.
The campaign comes amid increasing scrutiny about the negative effects of the fashion industry, which accounts for 10 percent of global CO2 emissions – more than international aviation and shipping combined.
The study of 2,000 adults revealed almost half (47%) enjoy shopping for brand new clothing – but the post-shopping glow doesn’t last long.
For 22%, the excitement of the item’s ‘newness’ is fleeting, while a further 17 per cent start to develop doubts over whether they actually like their purchase once their shopping high subsides.
From there, the joy of purchasing new clothes – something those polled do five times a month on average – quickly turns to guilt for the majority (56%).
And as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, three quarters look for bigger savings when shopping for clothes.
Garments needn’t be brand new for cash-strapped Brits to get their retail therapy glow: more than half believe buying ‘new’ clothes doesn’t necessarily mean buying something brand new, as long as it’s new to them.
Dr Carolyn Mair, a cognitive psychologist working in the fashion industry who partnered with Oxfam said: “Our brains are stimulated by novelty, but we become accustomed to new things quickly: over a relatively short period of time, what was once new and exciting, no longer appeals to us.
“One reason for this is the release of dopamine which motivates us to seek a positive outcome when we experience novelty. This helps us to escape from a threat or boost a potentially pleasurable experience. But once we have achieved the outcome, dopamine levels drop and so we are motivated to look for a new source of pleasure. In the context of clothing, the release of dopamine motivates us to seek a positive outcome by buying a new item to replace the items that we have become used to.
“Fortunately, we can achieve a positive outcome – by giving our clothes meaning, buying what we know we will love for a long time, caring for our clothing once we have it, and not only buying brand new. Engaging with fashion this way has the same positive effect on the brain as buying brand new, and it’s also better for the environment. Preloved fashion can make us feel just as happy as a brand-new item would as it would be ‘new to me’.”
The research also found nearly half (46%) also get a real kick out of making a big saving on a clothing purchase, with charity shops the most popular destination for second-hand goods as buyers count the pennies.
The average Brit spends £70 a month on refreshing their wardrobes, although a fifth will spend £100 or more.
Oxfam is encouraging people to shop second-hand in September to show that there is an alternative to buying new clothing that is better for the planet.
Lorna Fallon, Oxfam’s Retail Director added: “The results show that people love to shop, but the high they get doesn’t last long before they need to buy something again.
“That’s why we’re encouraging people to shop second-hand; not only is it better for the environment, it’s cheaper than buying brand new too. Come to one of our stores and you’re also raising money for our work helping people beat poverty and saving lives around the world.
“And, once you tire of your clothes, donate them back to us so someone else can enjoy them.”
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