Fast fashion is something we’ve all heard, and most likely been a part of at one point or another. Not only do these articles of clothing promote an industry deeply damaging the environment, more wallet-friendly methods of expanding your wardrobe exist as well. See why you should forget fast fashion and embrace second hand shopping the next time you’re looking to expand your wardrobe.
Behind the Industry
First, let’s get into fast fashion. Basically, fast fashion consists of trendy, disposable pieces often sold in large, chain stores such as Forever 21, Hollister, Walmart, and so on. Just as quickly as these articles go from the catwalk to the hanger, they go from our closet to the garbage.
This process perpetuates a high demand for these fleeting, trendy styles that furthers the already damaging impact of the textile industry.
Many common ingredients in our clothing, such as polyester, are not biodegradable. The waste from the factories producing these items then often leaks into surrounding areas causing micro-plastic pollution.
In 2015, the Pulse of Fashion report stated that the clothing industry was responsible for 1,715 million tonnes of Co2 emissions and is set to grow by 63% by 2030.
Repercussions of fast fashion extend beyond environmental degradation, but also bleed into social injustices.
Workers of the factories producing fast fashion endure insufferable conditions and wages. Furthermore, most of the employees of these locations consist of women and girls who are often mistreated and abused.
Lastly, according to the Global Slavery Index, the garment and technological industries are at the highest risk of modern slavery.
Now that you have some context and background, it quickly becomes less justifiable to buy from fast fashion outlets when there are so many other options.
The antithesis of fast fashion, slow fashion, might be the answers to our garment-fueled crisis.
Slow fashion focuses on making the production of clothing more sustainable. This method of shopping emphasizes buying lower quantities of higher quality articles of clothing.
This movement promotes small, local craftspeople rather than large corporations as well with slowly rotating styles and pieces.
Unfortunately, however, some of us can’t immediately jump on the slow fashion train due to financial concerns. Luckily, there are tons of other, cheaper ways of avoiding the fast fashion trap.
Second hand Shopping
Second hand shopping involves purchasing pre-worn items for your wardrobe. Thanks to technology, this can be done in countless ways beyond the thrifting of which we are all so familiar.
Through buying used clothing you not only avoid supporting the impacts of fast fashion, but you also have an opportunity to make your wardrobe uniquely you.
The items sold on second hand websites and stores vary from vintage pieces to last season’s highlights. This allows you to create an individual look for yourself that goes beyond what any fast fashion mecca can provide you.
Moreover, these items can be insanely cheap. In my limited experience with this process I’ve found and bought designer brands, old and new, at unbelievable prices. Additionally, these services allow you an alternative method of disposal for your clothing where you can make an extra bit of cash too.
Now that I’ve hopefully sold you on letting go of fast fashion and embracing second hand and slow fashion, here are my favorite methods of mixing up my wardrobe:
- Simple and sweet, just check out a thrift store around you. You never know what you can find lurking in that dusty corner!
- Hand-Me Downs
- Whether they’re from siblings or friends, I love hand-me downs. Before donating your clothes, see if any of your loved ones are interested and ask them to do the same.
- I recently just discovered Depop, but am completely in love. It’s a space for people to sell their used clothing rather than just giving them away. What I love most about this site is that you can specifically search for any items or brands you’re interested in and find a plethora of sellers near you.
- I have yet to use this service, but have heard great things. thredUP is very similar to Depop but a tad more regulated and only allows a certain quality of products to be sold on the site. You can also order a box of items they handpick for you based on your personal preferences.
With so many alternatives to the shopping mall, there’s no excuse to keep supporting the damage fast fashion causes. Even if your hesitant visit Depop or thredUp and scroll through all the options available! Save the environment, your wallet, and fight inhumane industry practices through embracing slow fashion.
Cover image via Save the Student
Also published on Medium.