PHOTOGRAPHY BY SPENCER COPE
STYLING & WORDS BY ELIZABETH CABRAL
Meghan Collison has been a fixture in the fashion world for a decade and she has the eight Italian Vogue covers to prove it. She’s walked the runways for Alexander McQueen and Miuccia Prada and is a perennial favourite of iconic lensman Steven Meisel. As she has collected career accolades, Collison has also accumulated what she describes as “an unreasonable” amount of clothing. A by-product of being an active participant to some of the greatest sartorial moments of the last decade. With items stashed away in every cupboard, closet and available space, Collison had a revelatory moment and realized all of this “stuff’ was actually compromising her happiness.
“Whenever I got dressed, I was overwhelmed because I had such a volume of things that I couldn’t even narrow it down to what I actually liked anymore. Once I had that lightbulb moment, I kind of just began to go through my stuff and purge, which is daunting in itself. It can be difficult to decide what you really like, versus what you’re holding on to just for the sake of holding on to it.”
Inspired by Marie Kondo’s book Spark Joy, as well as an impending six month long road trip with her boyfriend, she began the emotional journey of purging her excessive belongings. “I just wanted to feel free again and not be held down by my things. All of this stuff that I had accumulated wasn’t bringing me much happiness, and the more stuff I got, I just realized that your happiness, or lack of, is connected to your material possessions – that was a huge revelation.”
With that, Collison developed a system to help her determine with certainty what she would keep verus get rid of. “I would constantly go through my things. My boyfriend would say “Here we go again…” I’d pull everything out of cabinets and closets, put it in a big pile and go through it piece by piece. Slowly, certain pieces just always made the the cut. Whether they made me feel good when I wore them or the fit was amazing, or if they were vintage pieces with a rich past. …I can’t even really describe it. Just that some things managed to stay while other things left.” The one noticeable commonality were that fast fashion items and or sale pieces bought on a whim, were definitely the first things to go. “I realized that’s not the best way for me to be spending my money, unless the piece really made me feel something when I wore it but nine times out of ten that wasn’t the case.”
Collison says that after getting rid of so many items, she was surprised to realize that there were so few of them that really resonated with her. While she still loves fashion – admiring beautiful pieces, dressing up, playing a character – she believes there is a difference between being inspired by things versus being surrounded by so much excess that you are suddenly uncertain of what even inspires you anymore. She’s drawn to a seventies aesthetic, denim and belted coats in particular, and she essentially lives in her Converse sneakers.
While she’s conscious about her material consumption, she still shops, but most of her purchases are made at vintage or resale stores. “I believe that there’s a lot of stuff you may think you want that already exists in a thrift store. For instance, a striped t-shirt – there’s really no need to buy new because there are hundreds of those in thrift stores. Or,denim, an unlimited amount of amazing denim lives in thrift stores. These may seem like little things but for me personally, I think thrifting is the key to less waste and consumption.
“I’m not perfect, I do have random impulse purchases where I buy something new, But I really try to ensure that if I bring something in to my apartment, it has a home and a purpose, and I think it’s beautiful and I know with certainty that I will wear it.
“At the end of the day, the whole minimalism thing very much was just a matter of being in harmony with the environment that I was in. Last summer we spent a month driving from Utah to Southern California up to Seattle and then back to Idaho and Utah again. It was one of the greatest trips of my life and I had very few items in that van with me. I was the happiest and most free I had ever been, spending time in nature. You just don’t need a lot of stuff to live and have a good life.