I might get in shit for writing this post.
It’s something that I mention in almost every conversation about sustainable style and how I feel about it.
I don’t think fast fashion is the devil.
There. I said it.
Are you still there?
Great. (Hi mom and dad!)
I am however, of the very strong opinion that buying shitloads of fast fashion (or any fashion, for that matter) on an unreasonably regular basis is bad. To me, the rate of consumption of fashion is the larger systemic issue within the retail sector. (Right now that is. The more I research, the more I discover that perhaps eliminating fast fashion from my shopping diet altogether is a good idea, but for now, this is it. I have to remember that my opinions and thoughts on sustainable style are not rigid. (Thank you Malorie Bertrand for reminding me of this!))
If you’re a fan of fast fashion brands but want a sustainable style solution – in addition to shopping less – try this: treat all of your purchases – especially the fast fashion ones, equally.
For example; a $10 tee from a fast fashion retailer should be treated the same way as this Alexander Wang tee . Ensure it’s a solid purchase by asking yourself these 4 questions to avoid waste, don’t just buy it because it’s cheap or on trend. Hang it up or fold it at the end of the day. Wash it with care and hang it dry. Make sure it’s stored with as much consideration as your designer duds.
A lovely and inspiring friend of mine, Dominique is a great example for this. I remember her sauntering into a morning brunch date with me wearing a chic camel peacoat which happened to be a 5+ year old Forever21 piece. Next I saw her wearing a faux fur number from H&M to her birthday dinner … according to Dom she’d had it “for years!”.
Dom seems to be the exception however because for most of us, as soon as something is labeled as “cheap” in our minds, we don’t treat it as well (source; here – p.235). Those types of items are already doomed to the back of the closet or Goodwill in a few months before even being paid for, all because they were accompanied by a shiny SALE tag or purchased in a certain venue. But if you think about it, the same amount of water (2,700 L), and quite possibly the same amount of human labour was invested into making both garments. So why treat one differently?
I think a big part of embracing slow fashion is remembering that the natural and human cost of every garment is similar. (With the exception of luxury brands and couture but that is another realm and may perhaps need another blog post) It’s also about appreciating the piece long after the lustre of its trendiness has faded. For me, the best part about slow fashion is how it wears almost like a badge of honour in a world of style where we strive for individuality but somehow end up all looking the same … a seasons-old piece has the cachet of not being on shelves anymore.
So show your clothes some love, no matter where they’re from. And tell me what you think! Do you have some old gems you’re still coveting?
Graphic created by me, quote sourced from this article.