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This Arizonan never purchased a new article of clothing in 2023

Julie Hampton is a local artist and writer and, a few years ago, she made herself a seemingly difficult New Years’ resolution: Don't buy a single new item of clothing for an entire year. 

This week on The Show, as 2024 kicks off, we’re featuring Arizonans who made out-of-the-ordinary New Year's resolutions — and actually stuck with them. 

Full interview

JULIE HAMPTON: I typically, a friend who is another writer, We typically come up with a mantra for the year and kind of advocate for the mantra throughout the year reminding ourselves of the mantra, but I'm not a huge resolution person.

Mantras, like give us an example.

HAMPTON: Oh, is it bringing me up or is it bringing me down?

That's a good one.

HAMPTON: Yeah. So like kind of just a filter through which we can kind of process anything that's going on in the year, that I sort of stay positive.

OK, So a couple of years ago, you decided to do a real New Year's resolution and this had to do with buying clothing, basically anything new. What were the parameters, exactly?

HAMPTON: Basically a fashion fast. So, not buying a single item of clothing. Although I did give myself an exception for socks and underwear if needed. Although I have repaired underwear, which just seems so ridiculous, but I just thought it'd be fun.

That's so funny. So, clearly this involved a lot of mending, which we'll talk about in a minute. But first, tell me what prompted this, like, what got you thinking about the idea that you did not want to buy any new item of clothing for a year?

HAMPTON: Well, I mean, I've been doing some, you know, obviously sustainability. I'm a teacher. And so students have done many projects on sustainability. And just thinking about and in my own research, realizing how many items we actually have, I think there's a figure out there that says, you know, Americans typically have 300,000 items in their household.

Jeez.

HAMPTON: When you, when you kind of try to fathom that you're like, how, how does that happen? And even though I go to estate sales and, you know, yard sales or Goodwill or different thrift shops to pick things up, there's still an, you know, you're acquiring, acquiring inquiring. And so I'm just really trying to be conscious about what I acquire, and then making sure what I acquire is something that's going to last for a long time. And if it doesn't, then finding a way to repurpose that finding a way to repurpose that.

How would you describe your personal style when it comes to fashion?

HAMPTON: Eclectic. I mean, I, I appreciate new items, but I also love to kind of mix and match, you know, sort of vintage pieces with something new.

All right. So describe what this year was like, this year of fashion fasting for you. Like step by step. Was there like a day you found yourself completely stuck on this?

HAMPTON: I think I was probably in a Nordstrom Rack when I did excited to actually commit to the fashion fast because I was not that excited about what was on the racks. And I was like, I can do this.

I was, part of the reason this came up is because I was in a textiles class and, you know, part of the textiles class was to present on an artist. And I think somebody must have presented somebody, like a, on somebody who was doing visible mending or kind of mending as a, you know, sustainable project. And I was sort of intrigued by that. And then just, you know, through my own research, continued to find other people that were doing this as a way of like being more conscious about the environment because fast fashion has such a huge impact on the environment.

Did you get really bored of your clothes?

HAMPTON: No, honestly, I, I feel like I've, I've done a great job collecting certain items. And then when you travel, like, there'll be times where I'll travel for a whole month, and I, I do not check luggage, and so I have to be very conscious about what I pack. And I, you know, when you, when you're wearing the same clothes, yeah, maybe after a month it gets kind of boring when you're only having, you know, maybe 10 or 20 items in rotation.

But I bring summer clothes in winter clothes out, and just kind of rotate through. So I don't easily get bored.

And you didn't really get tempted, it sounds like, to buy something. You didn't see anything at any point and say like, oh, I really wish I could buy that.

HAMPTON: No, because I basically had to stay away from so no Last Chance, no Nordstrom Rack, maybe a thrift store now and then just for inspiration. But yeah, it was pretty, I'm pretty, I think I'm pretty good about not overindulging in purchases.

OK. So tell us a little bit about the visible mending part of this, because I'm sure this had to come up as a year of wearing clothes. Would, they get worn. What was your most creative version of this?

HAMPTON: Socks. I mean, and I was sort of like, why am I spending all this time to repair a $1 sock that you get from Costco, you know, fixing the heel? But it was more of a creative process for me. because I was in this textiles class and learning, and it was a chance to practice these embroidery stitches and, you know, experimenting with can I put, you know, cotton that's not very flexible with these socks that are stretchy. And so it was kind of just experimenting with fabric, too.

It must have been kind of fun.

HAMPTON: It was super fun, and my socks were awesome.

They looked really cool by the end of it, I bet.

HAMPTON: They did, you're just layering on these different threads and different fabrics. So it was, it was, I think it better expressed to me than, you know, buying something off the rack.

Was there anything unexpected that you discovered in this process?

HAMPTON: How much money you can save when you don't go into the store and, you know, browse because it's like I'm easily tempted when I'm in the store and think, oh, I need that. I need that. I need that. But when you're not in there, you realize, oh, I don't really need that.

Yeah. Fair enough. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. OK. So I won't challenge you to do your 2024 fast fashion fast unless you want to. But do you have a New Year's resolution for this year?

HAMPTON: Oh, I think it's actually to let go of some things. As an artist, I love being surrounded by supplies, but I'm one of those people that will save every item of clothing even though it's worn out because I see the possibility. I also love kind of merging two pieces of items that maybe don't fit, right and see if I can kind of do a mashup.

I loved "Pretty in Pink" with Molly Ringwald. So that's my inspiration of, sort of being able to put two different pieces together and make it work.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.