We all have our own individual style that shows the world who we are. This style is developed over many years of choices, trial and error, along with industry trends and influences. But have you thought about how your fashion choices can express your views on sustainability and your ethics as well as your style?
Like many young people starting out, my income had a big impact on my fashion choices and style.
For years I thrifted and shopped second hand because of financial reasons without even realizing the positive impact my fashion choices had.
These were also years that I shopped at fast fashion chains for the same low prices and deals but I didn’t realize the consequences of my actions. I was looking for the best price and saw little difference between a clearance rack, discount chain( Forever 21, H&M, Zara), or thrift shop.
My contribution to waste when it came to my style choices remained unexamined for many years.
I can’t help but think there are millions of other people who are just like that. Clothing is in many ways a pleasure, but it is also a necessity. So when we have a need we often think of the quickest and cheapest way to acquire it. It is easy to get caught up in finding the best deal without realizing that fast fashion may be CHEAP for us, but at what cost to others or the environment.
So what changed for me?
Honestly, it started out when someone in my circle shared the most basic facts on textile waste (17 million tons of textile waste was generated in the US alone in 2017).
Then another friend shared about the unethical practices and the exploitation of human lives (mostly women in 3rd world countries) that many fast fashion brands get away with. With the smallest amount of research my eyes were quickly opened. As I learned more, there was nothing I could buy from a fast fashion store at a cheap price that could erase the knowledge I now had about the difference I would make by shopping second hand. Even though I knew that I could not single handedly stop these terrible practices from happening on an industrial level, I no longer wanted to support these corporations with my money.
I wanted to share my history with fast fashion to show how we all come from a similar place of understanding. We may not all “get it right” the first time trying to “go green”. The important thing is to try and I am here to help you and encourage your growth. You can start your journey with sustainable
style regardless of where you are now. Just like everything else in life, don’t wait for the timing to be perfect to begin changing your life. Location, sizing, income , time, all play a factor, of course. But rather than hiding behind excuses we make to ourselves, let’s find one small change we can make today to start toward a more sustainable and fashionable tomorrow.
You don’t need to know a lot about the fashion industry, you don’t need to throw away every fast fashion item you own, you don’t need to feel guilty about your past. You just need to be open to learning.
Here’s a great place to start-
My top 3 suggestion for a more sustainable wardrobe:
1. Examine what you already have. Take everything out of your closet and dressers and put back only what you want to wear. Use the hanger flip trick to discover what items you are actually wearing. We will go into depth about this in future posts, but these techniques will show you what you have and if you have a need.
2. Wait to purchase. Found something you like? Take a breath, can it wait? If so, put off that purchase for a day or two (especially if it’s online). You may find that the “NEED” you thought you had has dissipated or discovered there was a more sustainable way to fill this desire.
3. Get comfortable with Not Shopping Retail. There are lots of Apps, Second Hand Stores and Websites to help you with your style needs. If you become familiar with your local thrift shop or find an App that gives you that vintage look, try filling your style needs there first. You will be shocked how everything from daily essentials, to vintage looks, to high fashion at low prices is available with an eco-friendly vibe.
Challenge yourself to try these first steps!
I don’t think it is helpful to shame and blame on issues as personal as fashion. This is not a space to show you the error of your ways or to make you dress and act like me. It is, however, a space focused on showing you the possibility of your future. A space for learning and sharing about how to make more sustainable choices with our style while still expressing your own individual self.
The great thing is -- we all have the opportunity to learn and allow the information we absorb to inform our actions. And small actions, over time, can make a big difference.