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Tiffanie Darke on the #RuleofFiveCampaign

It’s no secret that the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on this planet. Studies show that it’s imperative that we vastly reduce our consumption of clothing in order to stay below 1.5C by 2030. Former fashion editor Tiffanie Darke is holding herself accountable as a consumer by pledging to ‘The Rule of Five’, a campaign created by Darke that invites people to commit to buying only 5 new items of clothing a year. 

To tell us more, Tiffanie has answered a series of questions about the Rule of Five campaign. 


What made you start the Rule of 5? I very much enjoyed all the positive stories coming out of the way fashion companies were re-engineering themselves for a more responsible future – biomaterials, regenerative agriculture etc. Then the Hot or Cool Institute report came out and put paid to all of that. Basically, if we want to reach 1.5C by 2030, the only way to do it is radically cut consumption. And that, for us in the west, amounted to just 5 items a year. I felt that if I believed in the world’s trajectory towards 1.5, this was the very least of my personal responsibilities. And although 5 is a tough number its also quite do-able too. What I didn’t bargain for was all the side benefits on the way – how creative it is (you have to mend/alter/style your existing wardrobe more inventively), how much it releases you from the consumerist hellhole of shopping for kicks and reassurance, and how it restores the relationship between owner and object. Basically, I fell in love with my wardrobe again.

Will you continue doing it? I can’t ever imagine going back. However, it will still be tricky – I need a new white t-shirt, I’m bored of all my summer dresses, the buckle has fallen off my day to day cross body bag. Just replacing core pieces because of clothing is going to really eat into my allowance. However – I’m giving myself 4 second hand purchases too, so lets see if I can pull it off again.

What was the most difficult thing about doing it? The summer. Being on holiday in a different climate required a whole new wardrobe. I was bored of all my clothes, then my daughter lost my shoes on the beach and I had to waste a whole purchase on replacing them. I was pretty depressed when I got back home. I blew two of my second hand credits to comfort myself.

What was the best thing? Definitely discovering there is so much joy and fun to be had with fashion in things other than shopping new – the swapping party I held was a highlight (so much fun and I got loads of new stuff), altering two inappropriate pieces into something entirely new, and then breathing new life into old pieces I had totally forgotten about and consigned to the ‘forget it’ pile. I unearthed a black Sacai lace shirt I hardly ever wore when I got it 15y ago, and wore it multiple times to Christmas parties. it looked fabulous – whatever was I thinking?!

What do you wish you had known when you started out? All the mistakes I would make – the shoes I bought abroad which were bio-degradeable and so won’t last beyond a year. Not to buy second hand online – the Gabriela Hearst shirt I treated myself to from Vestiaire arrived with a button missing and a thread pull. It was impossible to return.

What are your top three tips for someone doing Rule of 5? When you really want to buy something, wait 2 weeks and see if you still want it as badly. I almost never did. Do a wardrobe audit and isolate the one thing you really need then do a ton of research to find your perfect one. It’s super fun and then you love the thing when you finally get it. And third – find a good tailor!