Forget Black Friday, Can 15 Fashion Addicts Give Up Shopping for a Year?

by , 11/24/10   filed under: Eco-Fashion News, Featured

eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style

Photo by Ed Yourdon

Abstaining from Black Friday is tough enough for most Americans, but pledging to buy nothing for a whole year? That’s what 15 self-proclaimed fashion addicts around the world have promised to do, relying instead on swapping and remaking to fuel their need for clothes and accessories. Launched this month, the Free Fashion Challenge is part test of fortitude, part consumer rehab. It also attempts to solve one of the biggest conundrums in our spend-happy society: How can someone who loves fashion indulge sustainably?

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Photo by Mary Gaston


The project is the brainchild of Laura de Jong, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute and Beyond Green. By challenging its participants to go a whole year without purchasing a single article of clothing, Free Fashion plans on exploring new and creative ways of sartorial self-expression.

Undies and socks are included in the “do not buy list,” and thrift-store purchases are a no-no.

The parameters of the challenge are stricter than most. Undies and socks are included in the “do not buy” list, thrift-store purchases are a no-no, and even accepting gifts of purchased items is verboten. And although participants are encouraged to refashion new looks from existing pieces, they’re not allowed to buy fabric or trimming.

“I am a fashion store’s wet dream,” Susan Van Heerde, a participant and admitted shopaholic tells “I spend thousands of euros a year on clothes, but it isn’t really the expense that is the problem, it is the need to constantly purchase more.”

Think you have what it takes to buy nothing for a whole year?

+ Free Fashion Challenge


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4 Responses to “Forget Black Friday, Can 15 Fashion Addicts Give Up Shopping for a Year?”

  1. vee says:

    I must be able to purchase undergarments.

  2. Jill Fehrenbacher (@jillfehr) says:

    Jill from Inhabitat here – I did this exact thing unintentionally for two years after the birth of my son because I had no time to shop… And for the first time in my life all of my shirts, sweaters and jeans (and boots), developed holes in them. I had to get very friendly with my local cobbler and tailor (and Denim Therapy), but it was worth the cost and time. It’s just too bad that economies are so out of whack these days that you can buy new shoes or new jeans for less than it costs to get old ones fixed (usually around $50 for me). It makes repair a harder pill to swallow.

    The underwear stipulation is a little extreme though – who can afford to (and who wants to bother with) getting underwear repaired?

  3. laura de jong (@jongdelaura) says:

    Wow, my project on Ecouterre! I’m impressed :-))

    @JillFehr: Free Fashion is not meant as an anti-fashion project. All participants work or study in the field of fashion. We love Fashion! But we don’t want fashion to be a throwaway product, as it is nowadays. So that’s why we asked the participants to stop consuming fashion totally. It’s a little like going on a holiday: if you really get the chance to take some distance from your daily routine, you see things more clearly afterwards.

    And to reassure you: all the participants bought loads of underwear and socks before the challenge started. Although… Today, one of our participants – Leonie – washed her favourite, cute, WHITE undies together with something blue…OUCH!

  4. sfaber19 says:

    This sounds really similar the which is currently in its second year. Check it out at

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