When talking about his work, a friend once told me that even the nicest people are not immune to what fame does to a person; that even the most down-to-earth individuals can turn in the face of money and constant adoration. Last week, during Berlin Fashion Week, this conversation entered my mind as I thought about all the swag I was being given and what kind of effect this could have on a person who normally shies away from blind consumption.

I was sorely unprepared for how much swag I would be walking away with. Now as a blogger in general, going to events usually means walking away with a goodie bag. In general, it’s an extremely nice gesture, and I have actually walked way with really lovely items from smaller labels that I am happy to count amongst my belongings. But many times, you are left with a million samples of things you could not possibly use up in a year.

Getting free shit is nice – but it always leaves me feeling torn. Having just moved into a new flat and having just gotten rid of a substantial amount of possessions, coming home with three bags full of new things was a bit overwhelming. On one hand, I am extremely humbled and appreciated both the opportunity to attend Fashion Week and the kindness of sponsors and event planners who spent the time putting together such lovely goodie bags. But on the other hand, I felt as if I was collecting things left and right that I probably did not need. Part of me was pretty stoked to be given some really awesome new things, but part of my felt guilty for coming home with a ton of new things. The last thing I want is to go from conscious living to mindless consumption. While I don’t think that being given free things is going to change my mentality, I could definitely see how easy it could be to get swept up in it all.

Now for the record, I’m not totally slating swag. I also understand how important it is as a blogger to test things out and build relationships with brands. I think that doing so is entirely fine. But it is important to remain moderate and continue to highlight the work of companies that place a large emphasis on trying to make a difference (and some of these brands ARE brands that have a presence at fashion week, which is a total win-win if you ask me!). I also think that anything you walk away with should be put to good use, as the worst thing would be to let something go to waste. I’ll be sorting through my things and passing along that which I can’t really use to friends over the next few days.

I feel a bit as if I’m simply typing word vomit at 3 AM in the morning, but my point is this: fashion and blog events have the potential to connect you to such amazing and talented people: fellow bloggers, designers, artists, etc. They also have the ability to help you discover amazing brands and interesting new products – but they also have the ability to create greed and snobbery. All I’m saying is that it’s important to bear this in mind. So by all means, enjoy the free champagne (I know i did!) and new things, but keep your feet on the ground and be appreciative of it all. Oh, and before you take that free pair of shoes, ask yourself if you really need it or even have room for it in your closet. If not, take a pass on it, or give it to a friend. After all, swag may be free, but living consciously is priceless.

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Stay conscious, Rae

Rae

Rae Tashman is both the creative mind behind LFB and a freelance photographer. She lives in Berlin with her two fur babies and loves creating images and living consciously.

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  • Great post! I completely agree. Swag has been the biggest overwhelm of blogging. It piles up and becomes more trouble than it’s worth usually. I started saying “no” a few years ago and have gotten some pretty sideways looks over it, but I’m at the point now where I don’t really care. If a product doesn’t interest me I refuse.

    • rae

      I think it’s great that you are turning away the stuff that you really do not need. It is so easy for bloggers to get wrapped up in the allure of free things, and while it is nice to get things – especially when you think about how much time and effort is behind blogging – we don’t need it all!

  • This was so interesting to read! And even though I’m not a blogger of that class yet, I understand where you’re coming from!

    franalibi.blogspot.co.uk

    • rae

      So glad you found this to be an interesting read!

  • I feel you – I totally find it hard to refuse free things like samples etc even though I know it’ll end up as clutter when I bring it home!
    I think you made really good points on getting free stuff as a blogger, I respect that you’ve given thought to it and posted about it. I find it a bit jarring when there are bloggers who present themselves as conscious consumers but accept endless numbers of gifted items. On the other hand, I understand that they need to build partnerships with brands when blogging is a business.
    I don’t often get offered free items but I decline most of the time if it’s something I wouldn’t have bought of my own accord.

    Jane / deluminators

    • rae

      I basically agree with everything that you have written here. And yes, I turn down a lot of offers for items if I do not believe that they were ethically made – like a lot of the wholesale shops that reach out. Still, I know that with everything you need to find middle ground, so I do not completely shut out companies just because they are corporate and am willing to try products as well, but I do try to maintain a certain level of standard!

  • I’ve always only accepted things I was truly interested in trying but it started to get far too overwhelming. Now I politely decline almost everything and it has felt incredibly freeing.

    • rae

      It can get very overwhelming and can actually become more work than it is worth! Politely declining is the way to go. I actually turn down 90% of the offers I get.

  • Yellowicing

    It’s not often I get offered products, but there has been a few times where I’ve declined because it would simply be accepting it because it was free and not because I had any interest in it, which didn’t really sit comfortably with me. Lots of the big name bloggers get gifted so many amazing products and while it’s incredible I’m sure it must get overwhelming.

    Lucy x- Yellowicing

    • rae

      I am sure that it does get very overwhelming. I know that even at the stage of blogging I am currently in, it can become more work than it is worth.

  • sileas

    Finding the right balance is the key, and it sounds like you did (or at least trying hard). Even the fact that you wrote this post at 3am tells me how conscious you are about this sometimes superficial blogging world. Thanks for reminding!

    sweetescapes.net

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST! seriously though, I see this so many times with more popular influencers who flaunt free things just because they can, paying no attention to the brand, but only to the fact that they got a big box of freebies! I hate how the world is exploiting masses to just consume with no thought put into it…

    Pop over to my blog!

    Sarah
    sarahinks.co.uk

  • This is such a great post. It applies in so many other industries though. If I went to my non-fashion industry convention (or any, really) every company gives out so many fliers, pens, small plastic goods that does no one any use, and the amount of reusable bags that I get is ridiculous. We end up throwing away those reusable bags because we have too many. It’s so wasteful and definitely unnecessary.

    http://www.deasynoel.com

  • Excellent post. I’ve definitely felt conflicted leaving events with 2+ bags of free stuff I KNOW I have no place for. So much paper and so much unusable packaging….! xx

  • Every time I see “swag” bag for celebrities in award shows, I can help but feel jealous seeing all those things given for free. But at the same time, the reality is that I probably wouldn’t use those items if I had it in my possession. It’s true that money can easily make people ignorant and hungry for more. I really liked this post, you seem such a wonderful person. Beautiful inside and out, not to sound too cliche. But it’s true. I’ve been downsizing lately as well, especially since I really want to move in the next month or so. Usually whenever I sell an item on Depop, or any other consignment app, I tend to just put in samples I’ve received and know I won’t use. If it won’t be of use to me, I sure hope it’ll be of use to the next person.

    thewanderingkitsune.com

  • Creepily I have been thinking the same thing of late, ish. Have you read We-Think by Charles Leadbeater? It’s about using the internet for mass innovation, not mass production and there was a really interesting piece that made me think about how as bloggers we have the ability to say whatever the fuck we’re thinking, we have the ability to shun social norms in a public way without editors, there is such a freedom to what we say, but as our numbers get bigger and our following increases, many do build relationships with brands and get given free stuff that we are going to say positive things about (because no company is giving out free stuff for bad pr) and it got me thinking how what could be this really anarchic activity but that capitalism has still, in some way, managed to infiltrate the blogosphere. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing (like you) to network and receive free shit, but it’s interesting to think about how the machine has an abilitiy to consume everything.
    captain undercrackers and the promenading pussycats

  • I’m a sucker for anything free, but points for self-awareness? hah jkjk. I remember reading a comment/observation somewhere that said something along the lines of “why is it that the people who don’t need free stuff are always getting free stuff, and the people who do need free stuff don’t?” Love your last sentence! // Is that second bag the bag of swag? Love the colour and pop of your outfit btw :)

  • It’s an interesting subject this one. I am lucky enough to have regular post from brands wanting me to try new gear, or for them to try and get features on the blog or social etc…but the more you get the quicker you realise you don’t need it and it’s almost too much. Like you, I pass a lot of the items on to friends or charity shops (and I do sell some of it, I admit), so the distribution of them kinda works. It’s flattering being send stuff, but the stuff you don’t actually want becomes wasted space. Stay humble.

    Buckets & Spades