For those of you know aren’t familiar with the term ‘haul video’, here’s a brief description. A haul on YouTube is a video showcasing someone’s recently purchased items. They’re hugely successful especially when it comes to fashion, with some videos receiving views in the millions. The problematic side of this comes down to the frequency of uploads and the vast amount of people being influenced by them; it’s the opposite of celebrating conscious consuming.
I don’t want this to be a negative, guilt-inducing article because I too, at one point, was an avid haul-watching-aholic. In fact, I used to upload haul videos myself back when I was somewhat active on YouTube (meaning I am part of the 21,500,000 videos on YouTube including the word ‘haul’ in the title). I’m not here to tell you to stop watching them or to stop making them, in fact, I’m going to avoid that completely; hence the title. But, just to continue on from my introduction, I will expand on why it doesn’t match up with what I believe should be more beneficial to us.
Haul videos promote consumption, and that’s just a fact nobody can avoid. The reason for haul videos isn’t just to spread the love of what we own, it’s to spread the love of what we own for somebody else to then enjoy by purchasing it themselves. It’s also not even about that anymore due to the rise of influencer marketing where products are paid to be featured in them or they’d been paid for by a brand in hopes of a feature, too.
If you’ve read my blog post about using your audience for change, you’ll know how important I believe the word ‘influencer’ is and how relevant it is to what I have to say in this post, too.
~ CLOTHES SWAP ~
With haul videos being so influential in what we buy, especially within the younger generations, they can be problematic if we’re going to make sustainability a priority. It’s also problematic if the brands being promoted are perhaps not as ethical as we might like because they gain interest and that sends a signal to them that they’re ‘working’ or that they’re successful.
There’s a great quote by Anna Lappe which is, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”, and I think it rings true for how we approach influence as well. Every time you promote a brand, you’re casting a vote for what kind of world you want other people to cast a vote for too.
So, why do I think haul videos don’t have to be problematic? It’s once again all to do with influence and the message put across. Although I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while now, the final push came when I watched one of Marzia (CutiePieMarzia)’s videos; a haul video, to be precise. Throughout the whole video she touched on ethics, even if it was just showing a brand’s core values and towards the end, she explained it all in further detail, explaining why buying items you truly love is more important than buying items you’ll only wear a handful of times even if they’re not necessarily ethical in the first place.
As much as I want to promote ethical shopping, it can be a difficult transition to make but this is a really great starting place not only for us, the viewers but also for content creators and how they approach these topics gradually and naturally.
~ HAULTERNATIVE ~
One of the reasons I picked out Marzia specifically is because she has a large audience and if we’re going to talk about influence then we should talk about those who can influence the most. It’s really refreshing to see somebody at least opening the conversation, which I think we could do with a lot more of. On the grand scheme of things, no reputations would be harmed and brands aren’t going to back away from working with someone if they’re only naturally introducing a concept. In my opinion, there’s nothing to lose.
Another great example of someone with a wide audience is Liv from What Olivia Did. I’ve been a huge fan of Liv’s blog for years now but recently she did a post all about consumerism and it was honest. She didn’t make herself out to be anything more than she is, and that’s something we should value when it comes to these issues. We need transparency across the board.
These two examples are just small ways haul videos and fashion content can become less consumption based. I think constantly dropping in ideas and mentions of what we all need to work towards is actually sometimes more important and influential than huge statements once in a while. Consistency and commitment to a message are key.
There are other ways, though, which takes me back to Marzia once again because, over the past couple of years, she’s taken part in Fashion Revolution’s #Haulternative campaign which focuses on exactly what I’m talking about; more positive and conscious consumption. Fashion Revolution have a wide range of content ideas for when Fashion Revolution day comes around, which I would highly recommend taking a look at if you are a blogger or influencer yourself.
One of these #Haulternative ideas is one I participated in and uploaded myself. The idea of a ‘Love Story’ haul involves sharing items of clothing you’ve had in your wardrobe for longer than just a few days. It’s still technically a haul because you’re sharing a collection of products, but it’s about sharing the idea of rekindling the love you originally had for them. It’s also about sentimentality (you can read more about how that’s important to sustainability here) and prolonging the number of times you use and wear something.
~ MOST WORN ~
A video which wasn’t directly for Fashion Revolution but was along the same vein was by Tanya Burr. She posted a video about the most worn items in her wardrobe and even if the products and brands she was promoting weren’t necessarily ethical, she was engaging with the concept that clothes can last.
All of the messages add up and contribute to a more positive influence online. We just need more people to participate and learn more themselves. I will say it for the 783rd time – education is vital and is something we all need and can do with more of. I’m still learning about how to become a better shopper and a better influencer. Why don’t we start thinking about how we all can, too?
Do you think YouTube hauls are problematic? What hauls have you seen which are more positive? Let me know in the comments! Let’s discuss…
Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx