When it comes to sustainable and ethical fashion, you may have noticed that I've been writing a lot more about this topic. After finally watching the incredible documentary The True Cost, I've had sort of epiphany when it comes to fast fashion and the impact it has on the world.
As a once struggling college student (and even several years after graduating), I would only shop at fast-fashion retailers. I thought I was being thrifty and smart about saving money. The truth was that I was a trend-hungry fashion obsessed person who really had no idea of where or how my clothing was made.
Still to this day, I can’t help but find a “good deal”. I honestly think this has been somewhat ingrained into our subconscious from marketing campaigns and the need to save money.
The funny thing is that the average person now buys 64 pieces of clothing a year according to an article on Fashionista, and Forever 21 stocks up more than 500 new styles per week.
Who really needs all those clothes?
Unless you’re a celebrity or possibly someone that works for a magazine, who is really going to be judging you?
It really boils down to your own self-confidence and what is important to you.
As I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve come to realize that I want to live by the motto “less is more”.
We’ve all heard this phrase, but when it comes to fashion. I’ve always wanted more, more and more, and with fast fashion, this was absolutely achievable even as someone on a tight budget.
However, the impact it’s having not only on our environment and affecting the lives of so many factory workers, I’ve finally come to the realization that it’s just not worth it.
I think it’s great that the slow fashion movement is slowly starting to happen, and that people are beginning to adapt to a more minimalistic lifestyle.
It’s also great that many fashion companies are beginning to notice this slow demand as well.
Hopefully, in a few years, the entire industry will begin to pick up and begin offering more sustainable and ethically made garments.
So in the meantime, what can we do?
Well, for one we can start educating ourselves.
I used to think that I was sort of doing good by donating my clothing to the goodwill. The truth is that clothes aren't actually even ending up with someone who actually needs them. So by buying disposable clothing from fast fashion retailers like Forever 21 or H&M, we are basically contributing to the huge amount of clothing that becomes a high pollutant due to the chemicals used to make the fabric.
An average person gets rid of 82lbs of clothing per year, therefore contributing to the 11 million tons of clothing waste a year according to The True Cost.
The only way to make this happen though is to start shopping slow fashion as a consumer.
We need to start researching the brand and designer before purchasing and begin making better choices when it comes to purchasing.
We can start building our capsule collections and look at what we need, rather than what we want.
I guarantee if we all started making these small shifts and committed to cutting out our fast-fashion habit, we’ll begin seeing bigger and better changes in the fashion industry.
I would hope that in the long haul it will be similar to the organic food market, in that people now pay double for groceries because they want to ensure their food is organic and fair trade. It used to be a ludicrous thought – who would pay double for some organic fruit or chicken? But slowly but sure people started to do so, and prices were able to drop.
Same thing goes for slow fashion.
If we as consumers start boycotting fast fashion, they (giant retailers) can’t open up massive stores on every corner or mall (which is gross) and we should compare to not wanting a Wal-Mart in our neighborhood.
According to the True Cost movement, there are five things we can do to help push this ideology along.
#1 Will you wear it 30 Times?
I love this rule. I remember the mentality of being able to buy a $20 dress from Forever 21 because then I could just throw it away if I suddenly become bored of it. By making better choices in style selection and really thinking about if you’ll wear the garment at least 30 times, is a great start to becoming more intentional with your shopping.
#2 Break the Cycle
Try to help slow the fashion cycle down. The traditional fashion weeks of spring/summer and autumn/winter are now something of the past due to giants like Zara who put out 50-100 mini seasons a year. This has become the new normal and it’s an absolutely horrible thing for factory workers and the whole slow fashion movement.
#3 Spread your Fashion Budget out
Instead of buying 64 pieces of cheap crap, maybe buy 32 pieces and look for brands that value higher standards in terms of fair trade.
Here is a list of our favorite brands and online stores that are not only sustainable but incredibly stylish as well.
#4 Detox Your Wardrobe
Did you know that fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry after oil? Crazy right? Due to all the synthetic dyes from various fabrics being toxic, 10% of the world’s biggest fashion brands have committed to phasing out these substances. Check out the list of retailers who are slowly detoxing their wardrobes here.
#5 Join the Fashion Revolution
Subscribe to fashionrevolution.org to stay in the know of all events, news, and things you can do in order to bring awareness to this topic. I’m pretty sure there are TONS of people who really have no idea what’s going on when it comes to unethical and unsustainable fashion. So start being the change you want to see in your wardrobe.
Did you like this post and list of ideas on how to shop sustainable? Leave us a comment below! Or if you have any resources you'd like to share let us know too!