A version of this article previously appeared on Let’s Be Fair.
Fashion Revolution Week was last month, but we’re still thinking about ways to have a more conscious wardrobe (shouldn’t we have Fashion Revolution Year?). After all, being an ethical consumer doesn’t happen overnight. If you aren’t familiar with Fashion Revolution, the basic idea is to expose the insane amount of horrifying labor abuse that occurs in the fashion industry and to challenge fast fashion brands to answer one simple questions: #whomademyclothes ?
Obviously, we support and love Fashion Revolution, but we know that changing the way we shop is just really tough! So today we wanted to share five simple things you can start doing right now to help you ditch fast fashion and start shopping more ethically!
5 Simple Ways to Kick a Fast Fashion Habit
1. Unsubscribe. If you are like me and always “sign up for the newsletter to get 15% off” you probably get hundreds of emails a week. I am such a sucker for a discount! The problem here is that many of those emails from brands are sent in the middle of the night so the first thing you see in the morning is some form of advertisement. So as soon as you wake up you are thinking about all the things you don’t have and what a good deal you are missing out on. Additionally, all of these emails are simply reminding you about brands you would have otherwise forgotten and encouraging shopping that probably doesn’t need to happen at all! By unsubscribing from emails we do a few things. First, we are getting rid of junk and creating a little more space. Secondly, we aren’t thinking about purchasing items we otherwise wouldn’t even be thinking about. Finally, we can’t be tempted by the allure of sales because we won’t know about them!
2. Unfollow. While you’re in the editing mood now is a great time to start unfollowing some people on Instagram. Here are a few I’d pick: thoughtless fashion bloggers (I don’t mean ALL conventional fashion bloggers, just mean people who blog out of vanity, not appreciation of fashion), fast fashion brands, and accounts that make you feel envious or bad about yourself. Again, more space, less envy, less advertisement and less “oooohhhh that looks so cute on her I need it now”.
3. Clean your closet. I promise. You have so much more to wear than you realize. Clean your closet out! Bring a friend over and see how many outfits you can create out of what you already have. If you don’t love it anymore give it away, (or even better host a clothing swap). You’ll have less but you’ll actually be able to find the stuff you do like.
4. Go to the dry cleaners (or seamstress). This goes hand in hand with cleaning your closet. Right now I’m in a “I have no pants and only one pair of jeans so I need to go shopping” mindset. But here’s the truth, I currently have two pairs of pants that I am not wearing because one pair has a tear that needs to be fixed and the other pair just need to be shortened. It will likely cost me $20 to do both of these things and then I’ll have two more pairs of pants. Boom. I think this is more common with people who buy second hand a lot because most of us won’t buy something new if it has a problem. However if you’re like me you have quite a few things you aren’t wearing because they have missing buttons, broken zippers etc. You are probably feeling like you need to shop even though you really have plenty to wear! And here’s the thing ladies, you are either handy, or you’re not. Just embrace it. And if your not, staring at it in your closet every day and saying “oh I really need to learn to sew so I can fix that” is stupid. I’ve been doing that for years. It’s stupid. Don’t be stupid. Gather all your problem pieces up and take them to the cleaners or a local seamstress. You’ll feel like you went shopping when you go pick it all up!
5. Don’t shop sales. I mean this exclusively with fast fashion brands. If it’s an ethical brand I ENCOURAGE you to shop sales. Some ethical brands still have crazy artificially inflated prices too and that’s just not necessary or really helpful for the movement. Also, since most workers are paid upfront you can feel confident that the person who made that piece was still paid a fair price even though you got a good deal on it. What I’m talking about when I say ‘don’t shop sales’ are the stores in the mall. Perhaps you just can’t commit to not shopping at your favorite store. You need J. Crew in your life. No shame, that’s not what this is about. Instead, try this. See if you can commit to only shopping full price. Shopping full price really drives home the point that shopping ethically doesn’t cost more. You will buy a lot less and be so much more thoughtful about what you do buy if you pay full price. You also will begin to see a little more closely how much clothing SHOULD cost. Aside from obvious junk things like Forever 21, I think full priced items from stores like J. Crew, Anthropologie, and Gap are actually quite reflective of the prices we should be paying for clothing. The problem with the fast fashion model, however, is that even if it is more expensive 95% of that money is going to J. Crew. It doesn’t translate into more dollars for the person who actually made the garment. We are disgustingly addicted to sales and consequently, also addicted to buying stuff we don’t need at all just because it’s cheap. We have a mindset that we are wasting money buying full price when the truth is that we are wasting money shopping sales! This is a struggle for me still. Just remember, if it’s not worth it to you to pay full price, it’s not worth owning. Break yourself of the sale shopping habit and see if it changes how you think and feel about what you want and need.
Have you broken up with fast fashion? What are your tips for shopping ethically?
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