August 14, 2018
Buying clothes for a special event, tucking in the tags—and then returning them to the store the next day (hopefully, with no noticeable stains or stench)—is a notorious strategy of stingy shoppers. But today, people are doing it just for the social media status.
Indeed, based on findings of a recent poll conducted by payments company Barclaycard, and posted on Quartz, nearly 9% of UK shoppers admit to buying clothing only to take a photo on social media. After the outfit of the day makes it online, they return it to the retailer.
The survey of 2,002 adults showed that shoppers aged 35-44 are the most likely to do this, and, surprisingly enough. men outnumbered women. The study found that it is men who are more socially self-conscious than women – with 12%t posting a clothing item on social media and then returning it to an online retailer, compared to only 7% of women
According to Barclaycard, the introduction of “try before you buy” policies at online retailers—where people pay for clothing they ordered online after they’ve tried it on at home—could be contributing to this trend.
One major reason? The rise of social media means that everyone, not just celebrities, is expected to maintain and curate a personal brand. Since we’re constantly documenting our lives and posting them online for public comment, nobody wants to get caught in the same outfit twice.
There are brands that tailor specifically to the Instagram shopper, such as Fashion Nova. “These are clothes made for social media: meant to be worn once, maybe twice, photographed, and discarded,” Allison P. Davis wrote in her deep-dive about the company in New York Magazine’s “The Cut.” Another favorite of the Instagram age is Rent the Runway, which embraces the return philosophy and allows customers to rent designer clothing for a fee.
Some, however, are moving in the opposite direction. The concept of the “capsule wardrobe”—which calls for investing in a small number of high-quality pieces instead of lots of trendy, discardable clothes—also is making a comeback according to a recent report by The Washington Post.
And then there’s British fashion icon Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge, whose every outfit sells out in seconds, but who frequently wears the same outfit twice (as did former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, another trendsetter).
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