We’re all suckers for a bargain. It’s fun to buy on-trend pieces. We love being able to buy something new, especially for an event we have coming up – we can’t be wearing the same outfit in two different Instagram pics, right? Unfortunately, this kind of fashion attitude is negatively impacting the world. The more we learn about this controversial industry, the more we ask – is it time to ditch fast fashion?
Luckily, there are fast fashion alternatives which still allow you to treat yourself and your closet. You never know, you might even have more fun shopping in planet-conscious ways.
What is fast fashion?
The unhappy truth is that fast fashion brands are the ones that we’re most likely to see on our billboards and in influencer haul videos. They’re the big companies with business models and marketing plans which focus on high profit and circulation, often at the expense of their workforce and the planet.
These brands watch the catwalk trends and recreate them with pieces that are mass produced and sold quickly, at a low cost. The reality is that the customer wears the clothing often a couple of times at best and it ultimately ends up in landfill; there’s 11 millions tons of garments thrown away in the US, each year.
In the factories, garment workers are pushed to their limits, often working for unfair pay, in conditions which expose them to harmful chemicals. A lot of fast fashion brands base their sweatshops in developing countries and take advantage of their workers’ vulnerability.
In 2013, after a highly reported disaster in Bangladesh, where the factory of popular clothing brands collapsed, killing over a thousand people and injuring thousands more, people have started to hold the fashion industry accountable for their actions.
What are the alternatives to fast fashion?
Sorry to hit you with the hard truth up front, but now I come with a message of hope! There are many fast fashion alternatives, so you can update your closet without contributing to the fast fashion pit of fire.
Shop slow fashion
There are an abundance of brands out there that have adopted the slow fashion approach and are on a mission to change Western world clothing buying habits for the better. These brands ensure that their production workers are treated like humans and are paid a fair wage for their work.
Their clothing is often made out of recycled materials, they limit wastage in the process of production and there are even some slow fashion brands out there that create a loop for their products. This means that their customers are incentivised to return their garments to the company that they bought them from, when the garment is no longer suitable and the company will recycle it into a brand new item.
When it comes to the environment, slow fashion brands will also likely have policies that support organisations working to protect the planet and their carbon emissions will be offset.
The downside for the consumer is that slow fashion brands do not come with fast fashion prices, but the way I look at it is this: slow fashion is priced exactly how clothing should be. Built into those extra dollars is fair pay for the workers and higher quality fabric to ensure the clothing lasts longer. I consider it an investment.
We recently shared a list of five slow fashion brands which won’t break the bank.
I’m happy to admit it first – saying ‘thanks, it’s vintage’ when someone compliments my outfit makes me feel cool, so why wouldn’t I shop vintage more often? Essentially, buying vintage is just buying second (or third, or fourth…) hand clothes. Often the clothing has been re-mastered by somebody and cleaned up, because nobody wants to be wearing 50 years worth of stains, but the original piece is largely still there.
There are thousands of vintage stores across the US and it can be a fun experience in itself, rifling through the rails, trying to find the piece you didn’t even know you needed. The price point will be way cheaper than purchasing brand new and you’ll often get something unique for your money.
Buy second hand
The likes of Ebay and Depop are also easy ways to find both vintage pieces and newer items that have been worn just a couple of times. You’ll find lots of fast fashion clothing on these selling platforms, but the great news is that you won’t be contributing to the fast fashion world’s pocket when you buy them.
Again, you’ll most likely pay a fraction of the original price of the item and these sites are a great way to shop if you’re trying to opt out of fast fashion, but don’t have the budget to purchase from slow fashion brands.
Selling your own clothes on Ebay, Depop and the alike is also a planet-conscious way of clearing out your own closet. Instead of sending the clothes to landfill, you could sell them onto someone else and make a bit of cash for your trouble. Of course, donating to charity is always an option too.
So, is it time to ditch fast fashion?
In an ideal world, it probably is time to abandon fast fashion. However, it really isn’t that easy. Not everybody can currently afford fast fashion alternatives, or perhaps aren’t even aware of the impact that fast fashion is having on the planet and some of its inhabitants. We all have a lot going on in our lives, it’s impossible to be across everything.
However, what we can do as individuals is try and be the best humans that we can, by making small changes. Perhaps you could commit to cutting down your fast fashion shopping by half or maybe you could buy your next three purchases from Depop. There’s lots of little things we can do right now.