Fashion rationed: wardrobe woes go viral


Australians are being forced to take desperate measures as coronavirus prevents factories in China from filling and shipping clothing orders for the Autumn/Winter 2020 season. Several fast fashion chains have stated that they will not be receiving stock in time for the new season, forcing customers to revert to behaviour not seen in this country for decades: heading to their own wardrobes rather than to the shops to fit themselves out for the cooler weather.

“It’s a disaster,” said fast fashion fan Pixielotte Furball. “I’ll have to wear the same jumpers that I wore last year. How can I take any outfit shots for Instagram now? Everyone will have already seen them before.”

The apocalyptic effects of the reduction in Chinese imports due to COVID-19 are leading would-be fashionistas to attempt to make do with their existing wardrobes, a painful experience for those who in normal times discard clothing that is flawed in any way.

“This one time, I heard that it’s like, possible to fix clothes that have, like, a hole in them,” said self-proclaimed macro influencer Phinella Catsick. “I don’t, like, really believe it, but someone told me that in the olden days, people used to get, like, a needle? And thread? And like, do some stitches to cover up the hole. I think it’s called darning? And someone else said that sometimes they even used to sew buttons back on but I reckon that’s like, just made up. Who would even do something like that?”

The dire style situation has spawned countless fake news items (including the one you are currently reading) and harmful rumours that there are actually alternatives to buying cheap new clothes.

Zamelder Fiddlesticks (who is “big on Tik Tok”) said she was investigating claims of parties where people swap pieces from their wardrobes.

“It’s called clothes swapping. It’s such a bizarre concept but apparently someone hosts a party and people bring clothes they don’t want, instead of just burning them or throwing them in the bin like normal people. And then they swap them with each other. I’ve never met any of the weirdos who have been to those parties but apparently it’s totally a thing. Of course with the social distancing stuff at the moment it would be pretty hard to do it unless you had a massive venue. So that’s good, cos I don’t think I’d be able to cope seeing people being such freaks.”

One of the more persistent rumours regarding options for purchasing clothing is that of outlets dealing in secondhand garments. Among heavy users, these venues are known as “vintage clothing shops”, “pre-loved fashion boutiques”, “op shops” and “fleamarkets”.

Consumers are cautioned against believing any rumours about so-called “op shops” offering wearable, stylish clothing for just a few dollars. (original photo by Abiko Sachie from Melbourne annai. [メルボルン案内。例えばこんな歩き方])

At these places, previously worn clothing and accessories are sold for a fraction of their original price and in most cases, are still in good condition. There are reports circulating that it’s possible to dress entirely in secondhand clothing, but this claim is yet to be verified, as is the dangerous gossip that posits that sewing, altering, knitting and crocheting one’s own clothes can be attempted even by those with no prior knowledge. The government is advising consumers to protect themselves from potential risks by avoiding blogs and Instagram accounts such as Style Wilderness, known for its subversive offensives against mass-produced fashion.

(Warning: sources claim that nearly all items in the following two images were purchased secondhand. Further, although the outfits appear to be completely different, the pants in both images are in fact the same pair.)

Fashion designer and illustrator Estelle Michaelides has chosen to ignore the warnings from the authorities.

“I follow Style Wilderness and I noticed that apart from buying things at op shops and making her own clothes, Leeyong [the foolhardy DIY enthusiast behind the Style Wilderness franchise] also wears the same thing more than once and even keeps clothes for more than a few weeks. It sounds like insanity, but she even has some pieces that are years old and what’s more, she wears them in public.”

(Warning: the following images show Leeyong Soo wearing exactly the same overalls on two completely separate occasions, not even in the same year. Please scroll past if these photos cause distress.)

Michaelides confessed that she engaged in the same behaviour of purchasing garments secondhand, making her own clothing and even wearing items multiple times. “The public has a right to know that I do this too, but wearing the same thing more than once is highly risky behaviour and should only be done under stylist supervision. You need to be confident of wearing it in different ways, mixing and matching it with other things in your wardrobe. It’s really not a course of action that I’d recommend unless you’re prepared to constantly be stopped in the street and asked where you got your outfit. You quite often have to cope with envious glances too so it can be extremely exhausting.”

(Warning: the following three images show Estelle Michaelides wearing exactly the same skirt on more than one occasion)

As the coronavirus situation progresses, experts are cautioning that in addition to these harmful behaviours, Australians may also consider buying well-made clothing that is designed to last for more than a few wears and potentially even start purchasing items that are made locally, although at present this tragic scenario appears to be avoidable.

If this article has raised issues for you or someone you know, do not panic as the disruption to the delivery of fast fashion is likely to be brief, so everyone will soon be able to resume buying way more badly-made clothing than they need, wearing it only once or twice at most and then sending it to landfill.

The following images reveal the extent of the risky behaviour practised by Leeyong Soo, in that they contain items of clothing purchased secondhand and worn in different ways on separate occasions. The yellow skirt is particularly troubling as the fabric was purchased secondhand and the skirt was made from scratch by Leeyong herself.


Photography by Meagan Harding


[Disclaimer: I don’t think I really need to tell my audience that this entire post is of course not an actual news article, but these days, who knows.
I am in no way pleased about the current coronavirus situation, but am attempting to see the positives. While some fashion businesses will be severely challenged and I certainly don’t wish them ill, I think this could be a chance for the fashion industry (among many others) to reinvent itself to be much kinder to the earth and its people.


Imagine a world where Australia didn’t rely on cheap, poor quality imports from overseas, but instead had a robust, innovative, well-supported fashion industry right here, making fabulous, sustainable clothing, footwear and accessories.
Imagine what it would be like if people valued what they already had in their wardrobes and learnt how to mend and maintain items.
Imagine the fun and camaraderie of clothes swaps.
Imagine how much more creative we could all be if we put effort into styling garments to create different outfits rather than simply buying whole new ensembles.
Imagine how many resources would be saved if we prioritised buying secondhand clothing over brand new pieces.

I really think all of this could be possible and we were part of the way there on some of these points already. Even though I’m not particularly spiritual, I do believe that maybe COVID-19 is simply the universe telling us it’s time to change how we are doing things.

If you’ve read this far, you were either really interested or simply had nothing else to do while self isolating 🙂 Either way, thank you!]