Fast fashion is an exploitative business model that relies on resource-intensive practices and low wages throughout the supply chain coupled with aggressive marketing strategies that take advantage of consumers in order to turn a profit.

Fast fashion has made us addicted to always wanting the latest trends and made it so cheap to ditch our clothes as soon as a new fad comes around. But now that more and more of the industry’s damning secrets come to light, how can you move away from this system when the alternative, namely, conscious, sustainable, and ethical brands, seems so expensive in comparison?

1. Focus on Buying Less

Even if everyone could afford to only shop from sustainable companies, overconsuming at the rate people in the Global North currently buy fast fashion will soon bring us back to square one. Here are some tips to help you avoid new purchases so that you can help the environment as well as your bank account:

  • Unsubscribe from online shops’ newsletters. The less you see these ads, the less you will be tempted by them.
  • Organise your wardrobe and reconnect with pieces you have forgotten about.
  • Repair your clothes instead of throwing them away. This can be as simple as sewing back a button or fixing a hole, but you can also find a local tailor who can help you with more complicated things.
  • Wash your garments correctly by carefully following the care instructions and ditching the fabric softener as it damages the fabric.
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat outfits. In a world obsessed with newness, repeating outfits is a fashion statement.

2. When you do need something…

Although the convenience of fast fashion (from price to accessibility to availability) is tempting, if you care about people and the planet, you might want to reconsider. Sarah Lazarovic created a neat diagram called The Buyerarchy of Needs, which gives you plenty of alternatives you should try before rushing online or to your closest H&M.

Contrary to what you may think, buying, even from sustainable brands, is the last thing we should resort to when we need new attire. But let’s explore the other options:

  • Use what you have - I have briefly touched upon this in the previous section, but, as Orsola de Castro (author of “Loved Clothes Last”) put it, the most sustainable item is the one already in your closet.
  • Borrow - If you have a special event and need something that you’ll probably only wear once, reach out to your friends or family and see if they have something that you can borrow. Your options will increase exponentially if you share wardrobes and you don’t have to spend a penny!
  • Swap - Clothing swaps can be so much fun! Find one in your local area, or organise one with your friends. This way, not only do you get to bring new and exciting pieces into your wardrobe, but you also get to give a new life to old items you would have probably thrown away.
  • Thrift - With platforms such as Depop, Vinted, ThredUP, or Poshmark gaining popularity, thrifting has never been easier. And you can snatch some fantastic deals while preventing garments from going to landfill.
  • Make -This is an advanced one. But if you’re looking for a fun weekend activity and you’re the crafty kind, you can have a go at making your own clothes. There are plenty of tutorials online, and you can even find free patterns.

3. Advocate for change

While the world will not end if you purchase one piece of fast fashion out of necessity, we must recognise that the system is broken. In order to change things on a larger scale, it is crucial to remember that we hold a collective power that we must use to hold those in charge of these unfair systems to account. Luckily, the most impactful actions are often free and include:

  • Signing and sharing petitions;
  • Sharing information with your network;
  • Commenting on companies’ social media accounts and calling them out for greenwashing or not paying their workers;
  • Asking your favourite social media influencers to refuse partnerships with fast fashion corporations;
  • If you have the possibility, donate what you can to organisations that fight for garment workers’ rights.

Finally, the key takeaway of this article is that giving up fast fashion is not inherently expensive. However, it is a process, and it will not happen overnight, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right from the first try. Just being here and learning about what differences you can make is already a great start!

Andra Andrus

About the Author

The above great blog has been written by Andra Andrus.

Andra is a software engineer who is a passionate advocate of climate justice and what it means in the context of fashion.

Check out her Insta site where she shares tips on how to give up fast fashion.

101 Ways to Give Up Fast Fashion

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