*Written by Kylie Newman*
Fashion is all about individuality, but in an evolving world, we have somehow lost the key component of what style really should be. Many people find themselves resorting to fast fashion to match current trends, but when you think about it, fast fashion completely counteracts what fashion was meant to stand for.
Trust me, I know how tempting it is to frequently check Revolve, Zara, Aritzia and many other fashion favorites for the newest trends of the season, but we rarely think about the negative repercussions that are a byproduct of a simple love for new clothes. I too, am guilty of shopping fast fashion, but my goal is to introduce alternatives to lessen this habit that is so detrimental to many aspects of our lives.
At our current production rate, in the next 20-50 years, food insecurity will increase because of the immense soil degradation that occurs as a byproduct of clothing production. The production of clothing around the world is one of the least transparent industries, yet one of the most polluting– kinda ironic, huh?
There is an abundance of ways that clothing production is detrimental to both us and the environment, so let’s start fixing this.
We often hear the phrase “use your voice,” which is undoubtedly one of our most powerful tools, but have you ever heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words?” It’s simple economics if you think about it. If we as consumers don’t demand as much fast fashion, suppliers will have to change the way that they produce in order to gain back their consumer base.
To support this change, here are some alternatives to shopping fast fashion.
- Shop second-hand
- Shopping second-hand opens you up to a whole new world of fashion, with a range of pieces from decades ago to the newest trends. You never know what you’re going to find, which makes the experience even more exciting! Since our society is infatuated with technology, thrifting has even moved into the online world. From the comfort of your bed, you can browse through TheRealReal, ThredUp, Poshmark and Depop.
- Traditional thrifting is also a thrilling alternative to fast fashion. Personally, I have had amazing luck with thrifting. I got my favorite jean jacket and oversized sweater from a local thrift store at home. Added bonus: no one has the same things!
- Tailor the clothes that you already own
- Back when we were in the strict Q, I found myself bored out of my mind, and I’m sure you all were too. One of the ways I kept busy was altering the clothes that I already had and revamping them into new pieces that I could wear all over again. For example, I cut a simple Brandy Melville dress in half and ended up with a two-piece set that was completely original. The words “unique” and “Brandy” are usually not paired together, but I was able to change that with only a pair of scissors and a sewing kit. The possibilities are truly endless!
- Dye/color your own clothes
- We know that dying our own clothes is possible. We saw this phenomenon all too many times in quarantine, but what if we dyed our everyday clothes naturally? By using natural materials such as elderberry and turmeric, we can eliminate the use of poisonous dyes and create something that no one else has!
- If you aren’t hooked on using natural dyes yet, try customizing your clothes and shoes in other ways. There is a huge market for customization, so we know this works. Instead of asking a big company to customize something, do it yourself! I made this mistake by ordering custom Nike Air Force Ones a couple of years ago. The design I customized is embarrassing to share as a black swoosh is clearly something I could have done myself. So, save the money, save the environment, and do it yourself.
- Fight for change.
- While we continue to make small changes in our lives by shopping more sustainably, it is vital that we also demand change from the brands we love. Make sure to educate yourself on what goes on behind closed doors and then contact brands as well!
- Learn: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/
- Email Brands: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/get-involved/
At the end of the day, switching to a completely sustainable shopping method isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. Personally, I cannot say that I only thrift or customize my clothes, but these are actions that I am consciously trying to implement into my life. Fashion is all about being unique and finding a style that suits you, and oftentimes sustainable shopping can make that easier! So, do what you can, and remember that a small change is certainly better than no change at all.