Photo by Ed Yourdon

Abstaining from Black Friday is tough enough for most Americans, but pledging to buy nothing for a whole year? That’s what 15 self-proclaimed fashion addicts around the world have promised to do, relying instead on swapping and remaking to fuel their need for clothes and accessories. Launched this month, the Free Fashion Challenge is part test of fortitude, part consumer rehab. It also attempts to solve one of the biggest conundrums in our spend-happy society: How can someone who loves fashion indulge sustainably?

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Photo by Mary Gaston


The project is the brainchild of Laura de Jong, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute and Beyond Green. By challenging its participants to go a whole year without purchasing a single article of clothing, Free Fashion plans on exploring new and creative ways of sartorial self-expression.

Undies and socks are included in the “do not buy list,” and thrift-store purchases are a no-no.

The parameters of the challenge are stricter than most. Undies and socks are included in the “do not buy” list, thrift-store purchases are a no-no, and even accepting gifts of purchased items is verboten. And although participants are encouraged to refashion new looks from existing pieces, they’re not allowed to buy fabric or trimming.

“I am a fashion store’s wet dream,” Susan Van Heerde, a participant and admitted shopaholic tells “I spend thousands of euros a year on clothes, but it isn’t really the expense that is the problem, it is the need to constantly purchase more.”

Think you have what it takes to buy nothing for a whole year?

+ Free Fashion Challenge