Does YouTube’s haul culture have you reaching for your bank card or is it more likely to make you want to overhaul your shopping habits?
It is undisputed that one of the most popular YouTube trends of recent years is the haul video. I will put my hand up and admit that I’m guilty of eagerly watching a twenty-something discuss 30 minutes of Boohoo purchases, most of which they’ll probably return without ever wearing.
These average seeming people can appear to blow up to £500 per video on new items, which is not only irresponsible if you consider the delivery, packaging and returns, but also an unrealistic representation of the average consumer, something which could really influence your average young teen.
However, amongst the murky waters of the fast fashion hauls, I am slowly seeing another kind of haul emerge from the depths of my homepage.
The hauls I find most fascinating are charity shop or thrift shop hauls, because even though I have more chance of winning the lottery than finding the exact same pieces in my local Oxfam, I always feel a certain second-hand excitement viewing someone else’s uncovered gems.
It’s undeniable that these videos create a certain sense of intrigue amongst an audience, as you literally have no idea what they could have found, and on more than one occasion after viewing this content I’ve been inspired to head out and have a scout around my local charity shops, and in doing so I have snaffled a few bargains.
Previously I’ve uncovered a Ralph Lauren jumper for a tenner and a Wrangler denim jacket for a whopping two pounds. Even if you still possess an element of snobbery when it comes to second hand shopping, you can’t deny that those are some bloody good finds.
Unlike other hauls, these shopping videos typically promote second-hand buying as a positive experience, removing the ‘musty-smelling, nothing-but-beige, always unflattering fabric’ image that charity shops seem to have, and showing to an audience that you can actually find nice things for much cheaper… shocker.
It is also possible that second-hand buying can be a real help to the planet, as you won’t only be reducing the amount of packaging from online shopping (providing you bring your own bag with you), but you’re also gaining new items without creating the mass of water wastage and environmental damage that comes with new garments.
Admittedly I’m not going to totally avoid fast fashion hauls altogether, as they can serve for some good old outfit inspiration; you can most likely put together some looks using clothes that you already own, or screenshot the looks and see what similar things you can pick up in your local charity shop.
I also think a certain level of transparency is needed for these hauls, as quite often the items have been gifted to said twenty-somethings, rendering the entire video a lengthy advertisement which may not be apparent to younger audiences unless they understand the #ad or scroll to the bottom of the description box.
To the big brands these kind of videos are an ideal opportunity to show off their whole new collection, using an innocent looking girl as the front for their brand, making the launch seem wholesome and organic, when in reality the YouTuber themselves will be making a pretty penny with little or no thought to the effect this could have on their subscribers or the environment.
At the end of the day, consuming so many clothes in such a short amount of time isn’t normal, and in my opinion shouldn’t be normalised, as it’s basically encouraging thoughtless spending. This is a problem I have fallen victim to in the past with the glitzy fast fashion exterior that is promoted by the big brands. In reality you can probably find items in charity shops that are just as gorgeous and just as cheap but without the ethical questionability!
It can also be assumed that pieces in charity shops will actually be of better quality than fast fashion items, as they’ve lasted long enough to be passed onto someone else, so most should last you a fair few years as well!
So next time you’re falling into a YouTube black hole, give a thrift shop haul a quick watch, because if you’re going to be addicted to hauls, make sure it’s a good one!