An end to fast fashion is detrimental to the survival of our environment. Recent years have brought to light the truly devastating effects the fast fashion industry has had on our deteriorating climate. For those of us that love fashion, this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s also a necessary one, and we should all be more conscious of the broader impact our shopping habits have.
I used to be a fast-fashion addict. Every paycheck I had would be swallowed up by Topshop or Zara. At a point in time, when things were pretty low for me, fashion and buying new clothes provided a distraction and a sense of fulfilment in my life. As life got better, and I subsequently had less money to splurge (slightly ironic), my fashion habits had to reform. As well as my personal reasons for dialling down on the purchases, I became much more aware of the environmental and social impacts the clothes I was purchasing were having. I began to develop a profound sense of guilt, and suddenly, fashion didn’t provide the same emotional relief it once had.
I understand that we are deep in the thralls of a capitalist society, and not everyone can afford to be sustainable. We’re facing a system that needs reforming beyond the individual. However, the small changes we can make as individuals can contribute to much larger change and influence those around us.
My sustainable journey continues each day, but here are a few things I now take into account when I shop for clothes and accessories.
Know your wardrobe staples
I’ve always wanted to be one of those super chic girls with a capsule wardrobe and a minimalist mantra. Unfortunately, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact this will never be me; I like clothes and colour way too much. I do, however, appreciate the need for a good set of staples in your wardrobe. These don’t necessarily have to be a basic white tee and blue jeans, they’re whatever you class as a staple for you. For me personally, I always need a pair of black converses on hand; they’re my most worn and go-to shoe for all occasions.
Discover the Depop Delve
Depop has been an absolute saviour for me when it comes to seeking out sold out garments, or those pesky pieces that are just a tad over my budget. In addition to this, using Depop is a great resource for recycling pre-loved clothing and prolonging an items life span. As a recovering fast-fashion addict, I sometimes can’t help having a scroll through the high street shops websites. If I do see something I love, I’ll type it into Depop and often be greeted by numerous listings for the piece, all at a lower price than the RRP.
Does it spark joy?
Yes, the old as time Marie Kondo mantra. I’ve never actually read any Kondo (shameful), but I now swear by the ‘does it spark joy?’ method. As cliched as it is, it actually works. I used to buy anything I saw online that I deemed nice and wearable according to my personal style at the time. This meant I ended up with a handful of clothes I liked, but I didn’t love; they didn’t spark joy. Now, I have to feel a very particular way about an item of clothing before I purchase it. As silly as it sounds, you’ll feel it inside yourself if you truly need a piece.
If ‘sparking joy’ is a little too abstract for you, here’s a few questions I tend to ask myself to break it down:
Where will I wear this?
When will I wear this?
What will I wear this with?
Do I have something similar already?
Will I have this for a long time, or am I buying into a trend?
Could I save and spend this money on something better?
As someone whose notoriously thrifty, this last one is usually the one that gets me. If I can’t answer these questions satisfactorily, I’ll be heading back to the rail, and hanging up that cute dress.
If you’re still unsure, give the age-old walk away and give it some time trick a go. If you like an item, but you’re not sure its completely worth the investment, walk away, give it a few weeks, and if you’re still obsessing over it, then maybe it is the right purchase to make. If you’ve completely forgotten it, obviously it wasn’t, and you’ve saved yourself a lil bit of cash too.
Discover your personal style
Personal Style is a huge one for me and something I often see overlooked on tips and tricks on reforming your shopping habits. Knowing my personal style is one of the easiest ways to assess if an item is worth buying. It helps you identify the pieces you’ll have for a long time and will wear often. I love a trend, but I don’t want to be investing in something I won’t want to wear in a few months. If there’s a trend circulating, I like to predict the lifespan of this trend and if it’s one that resonates with me so much so that I’ll still be reaching for it even when everyone else isn’t. Something different every day is definitely my mantra when it comes to style, but, I know certain pieces I won’t feel comfortable or like myself in. I always steer clear of these, whilst at the same time, ensuring I’m not frivolously buying the same style of garment over and over again.
Can it be worn more than one way?
‘ll sing it from the rooftops: versatility is key. Nowadays, one item one way just doesn’t cut it. I always need to know I can wear an item at least two different ways. If I’m honest, it just seems like a waste of money and resources to own an item that only goes with one outfit.
This doesn’t mean these pieces can’t be fun. As I said before, my pink and red faux fur coat doesn’t instantly spark hundreds of different and diverse ways to be worn in the same way a basic tee does, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous ways to wear it. It ticks the all-important box of suiting my personal style, and thus I know it’s going to work with an array of different items I own. For someone with a completely different colour palette, this might be a little bit harder– this is why all these tips work best together.
How will you style it?
When I was buying fast fashion off the bat, it was because I loved putting new outfits together. Moving away from fast fashion, and buying less, made styling a whole new game. Instead of piecing together Topshop’s bestsellers, I started putting together pieces in my wardrobe that felt truly like me and completely unique. If you enjoy styling, of course having new pieces to work with is always going to be exciting, but you can get these pieces from Depop or Charity shops– some of my most worn pieces I picked up second hand from charity shops. It takes a little more imagination and creativity to style up second hand pieces, rather than copying whatever the High street stylists have come up with, but its a much more rewarding experience. I encourage you to challenge yourself; shop in places where there isn’t a cookie-cutter mould of how to wear certain things, pick out unique pieces and style them to suit you and see how you feel.
Sustainability is a journey. Like all things in life, it’s unlikely you’ll be perfect straight away. As long as you’re working to be aware of the impact your consumer habits are having and doing what you can to be a more conscious shopper, then that’s enough. Small, meaningful changes are the best way to continue your journey successfully.