Do you get Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)? What has this got to do with sewing or sustainability?
Well, whilst our #makeyourstash challenge was running, I wrote a post on fabric shopping culture after listening to a hilarious podcast. Economist Richard Denniss poked fun at human behaviour and the way we see value and status, defining affluenza as “that strange desire we feel to spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know”.
Today I want to talk about sewing FOMO and consider how social media contributes to this. I was inspired to write this after reading one of Dominique Major’s newsletters about the trouble with trying to stay original when your mind is oversaturated with what everyone else is doing.
It is not uncommon to arrive at a sewing event wearing the same thing as someone else.
– Dominique Major, Major Mondays
Sewing FOMO dress stress incident
My last dress stress incident was pretty recent. A long time ago I bought some fabric from a mainstream indie online shop (is that an oxymoron?) from a pretty well known UK brand Lady McElroy that has a range of printed cotton lawn. A couple months later, a pattern brand picked up the fabric from the same store and used it for a sample that subsequently appeared in all the promotional pictures. The popularity of the fabric skyrocketed and it seemed like everyone had it!
By the time I knew the theme of the New Craft House summer sewing party was “tropical” my obvious choice was this dress … I just had this niggling feeling that I would be matching someone else. It was an unwarranted worry but a first world worry nonetheless, knowing that at least two people I knew who were also going also had dresses from that same fabric!
New patterns and fabric are relentless
I have said before that I don’t believe that sewing can be completely disconnected from fashion. Our fabric has to come from somewhere and there are definite trends in sewing that more often than not follow trends in fashion. From my time on Instagram, I’ve noticed that every time that popular indie pattern brands release new patterns, people get r.e.a.l.l.y super excited. Particularly if it is a simple low effort pattern, within a few weeks, pictures of that garment are peppered all over the internet.
I don’t consider myself immune to this phenomenon. Once I felt the need to make almost every single pattern release from pattern brands I liked … until I really felt burnt out and couldn’t keep up anymore because there of just too much stuff coming out all the time. And what was I doing it for? Sure the pure pleasure of making stuff kept me going, but even that ended up having its limits for me.
Is sewing FOMO a thing?
So what is it that makes us behave like this? I’m all for supporting indie pattern brands but why do we get so hung up on making the latest and greatest? You could argue that if a pattern or a fabric is popular, it must be a good thing and people must have good taste. Or, perhaps, we are addicted to social media and buy in to advertising, even if subconsciously. My reasoning is in part using the #makeyourstash discussions on Instagram, where quite a few people that said they felt that a primary reason their fabric stash had really built up was seeing something beautiful on social media and wanting it as well.
Social media influencer marketing
- a person who has established credibility from an engaged audience
- someone who facilitates purchase decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship
- an online content creator, creating content geared to a specific audience/someone who facilitates purchase decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship)
In fashion, brands use influencers. Sewing is no different although the market is smaller than fashion – you’ll have seen Pfaff and Burda influencers that are heavy social media users and bloggers. Even the independent shops know this works – how often have you seen fabric shops call out for a blogging team? The blogger gets free fabric and publicity, and so does the fabric shop. Win win right? No wonder you might be sucked into sewing FOMO and feeling like you need to keep up. Even just looking at people sharing their makes tagging the pattern house or fabric shops (I often do this) sometimes feels like unintentional advertising. Regardless of whether it is to give credit to the pattern brand, show people what a made-up version of the pattern looks like, or just share because its social media and its nice to share.
Sewing FOMO vs sustainability
The way we consume media content has changed so much in recent years, especially the ease with content can be created. Because of that, influencer marketing is only going to become more important. I know I prefer to see “real” people promote stuff they like if it is in line with their own personal branding.
What I like less is the actual marketing itself, no matter whether it is a fancy campaign with models we might not have heard of, or bloggers and instagrammers. Ultimately the point is to sell you more stuff. I wrote here about how advertising was created in the 1950s – fashion wanted to accelerate obsolescence and so trends were born. Fast forward decades and advertising hasn’t changed. We are still being told that we should buy more stuff or we’ll miss out! and be less cool!
FYI, I am approached reasonably regularly on whether I’d like a pattern or fabric in exchange for a review on this blog or Instagram. Normally I say no – besides not wanting new fabric, I want to keep this blog and my insta pretty free from sponsored advertising. This is because I want my home on the internet to be all about sharing sustainability messages and commentary with you (with a little sewing mixed in) and highlight what I think is worthwhile. I am not saying influencers shouldn’t exist or that advertising isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t what I want to do myself.
Managing sewing FOMO
By now you’ll probably be telling me to lighten up a bit – its just sewing, and sewing isn’t quick and easy like handing over cash or your card to buy ready to wear, so get over it. Right? Yeah, I know.
But I really do believe that we should be conscious of the fact that advertising (intended or otherwise) is in our lives every day, and it cultivates FOMO. I get it; when interested in sewing, social media is excellent for checking out what other people are making. You too can have that fabulous top in that fabric if you want!
So what works for you? Maybe you can scroll through tons of inspiration, read all the fabric shop newsletters and not want anything. If that’s you, then please share with me your secret! I had a few people on #makeyourstash on Instagram conversations saying they unsubscribed from everything and avoided social media. For me, I love the community that it generates so I don’t want to go cold turkey all together. But I do try and remember that nice pictures take a lot of work and are often staged. Even by people like me who don’t get paid to do any of it. And finally, there will always be more patterns and more fabrics. They will always be there for you when you are ready to make them, and the FOMO will probably go away when the next new thing comes out.
Do you get sewing FOMO? Are you ok with it or does it bother you? How do you manage it? Please share in the comments!
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