Naturally drawn to Sarah Lazarovic’s book A Bunch of Pretty Things I did Not Buy because of its neon orange cover and hand written type, I almost read the whole book in the shop (not because I didn’t intend on buying it) because it sucked me in. Lazarovic takes you on a journey – her journey tracking the relationship she has with stuff and her decision not to buy things. Rather than reiterate a narrative around how bad fast fashion is for this world, she crafts a charming and powerful manifesto “The buyerarchy of needs” illustrated through personal anecdotes and a guide to buying things that are made to last, encouraging readers to think before they spend.
Once upon a time, where a product came from or how it was made wasn’t a consideration in the buying process. If it was cheap, cheerful and accessible those were reasons enough to buy. But as supply chains become increasingly transparent and as media coverage of horrible disasters in the fast fashion factories of the developing world exposes the need for accountability, consumers are becoming adept to the social, economic and environmental implications of a culture built around consumerism.
Rather than expose everything that’s wrong with supply and demand driven by a manufactured version of need, Lazarovic’s book preaches conscious consumption as a smart, savvy lifestyle choice. One of the most important messages of A Bunch of Pretty Things I did Not Buy was the premise that we should re-evaluate our needs. We don’t need 20 pairs of shoes ranging in colour and function. A couple of well made shoes is more than sufficient. And even though trends change over time, most trends will eventually make a comeback (with the exception of platform sneakers, a trend that’s best left to vintage fashion mags).
So how does one manage the contradiction of a manifesto on curbing consumption, yet the necessity of selling copies? Simple. The book can be planted and will eventually grow into a tree.