Why I’m Trying To Ditch Fast Fashion
Fashion has always been one of the biggest parts of my life. I remember being a pre-teen reading magazines like ‘Mizz’ and ‘Girl Talk’, and circling the pieces of clothing I wanted my mum to buy for me. Trips to town to raid my local Tammy Girl were frequent, and as I grew up I slowly learnt how to express myself through the clothes I wore. I went through many different phases, the ‘I’m only wearing black and grey’ phase, the tomboy, sportswear and band t-shirts phase, and so many more that I’ve lost count, but one thing has always remained the same, I love clothes. As a young teen I didn’t think twice about where my clothes were coming from, who made them, or the impact it had on our planet. It had never even occurred to me that the clothes I desperately saved up to buy would have any negative effect on the environment, they were just clothes, right? It wasn’t until I started to be made aware of the devastating effects that fast fashion has on our planet that I reconsidered where I buy my clothes from.
The definition of fast fashion, is ‘inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends’. Basically, high street shops produce copies of catwalk trends, and sell them off at a fraction of the price. Most shops used to just produce seasonal collections, but now some retailers are bringing out new collections weekly. Some large retailers have new pieces dropping on a daily basis. Instead of designing clothing that will last and never go out of fashion, they’re designing pieces based on the latest trends, at whatever cost to the environment.
Over ONE BILLION new pieces of clothing are produced each year, and it‘s believed that 43% of that is made from cotton. Before, I would've never thought that cotton was a pollutant, that was until I learnt of the pesticides used in cotton farming, the toxic dyes used in manufacturing, and the amount of natural resources, such as water, that are used up in the production process. For example, it can take more than 2000 gallons of water to make just one t-shirt or a pair of jeans! It’s not just cotton that effects the environment, synthetic and man-made fibers have issues regarding manufacturing pollution and sustainability too. Fast fashion clothing is more often than not made in faraway countries, meaning that that clothing also has to be transported halfway across the world to reach stores.
For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have huge bank balances, it can often seem like an impossible task to find affordable clothing that hasn’t caused any harm to the planet. That was my initial thought, if I can’t shop at the big high street stores, then where can I shop where I can actually afford to buy clothes? What I didn’t realize, is that I had been doing it for years. Since I was roughly thirteen, I had used ebay to shop for clothes. I’d spend hours browsing for clothing that I couldn’t afford to buy at full price, and I felt absolutely no shame in wearing second hand clothes. My obsession for vintage started in my early teens too, and has continued ever since. I used to love looking through sites like eBay and asos marketplace for vintage finds. Unfortunately the town I grew up in had no vintage stores at all, so it was such a treat when I visited cities like Leeds and got to rifle through the rails of vintage pieces instead of just looking at them through a screen. Wearing vintage means that you’re pretty unlikely to bump into someone wearing the same outfit as you, the same however cannot be said when you’re wearing something from one of the big fashion retailers. Some of the vintage and second hand clothing I bought as a teen I still wear today, and the pieces I don’t I either sold on sites such as ebay and depop, or took it to a charity shop.
It’s not just the damaging effects to the planet that fast fashion has to answer for, but usually the clothing is pretty badly made. Whether that be down to dodgy stitching, cheap synthetic fabrics or the loss of shape after just a few washes, the craftsmanship of these pieces are pretty poor. Plus, when you’re buying into new trends, how much wear do you get out of that piece until the trend dies down and it’s no longer ‘in fashion’ anymore? Poorly made clothing often loses its shape after just a few washes, and fabrics start to go ‘bobbly’. This encourages us to throw the clothing away, thus making us buy more! Fast fashion clothing certainly don’t make for investment pieces.
I can’t count how many pieces of clothing I have bought and only worn once or twice. I came to the realization that I would rather buy less but wear it more, than buy more and only get a few wears out of it.
I recently invested in some pieces of clothing from a local independent and sustainably made clothing brand. I spent around £340 on three pieces, all of which I haven’t stopped wearing since their arrival. I could have probably got ten times the amount of clothes if I had shopped with a fast fashion retailer, but none of those would compare to the fit and quality of those three pieces. Each piece was handmade and the quality of the fabric is incredible. It was after buying these that I decided to try and only shop from sustainable fashion brands, or buy second hand/vintage clothing.
It hasn’t been the easiest of tasks, but I’ve been trying by very best to stick to it. I’ve gotten back in to vintage shopping, and have switched from fast fashion apps to eBay and depop, where I look for second hand pieces. It has also helped me in finding some really great small and sustainable clothing brands, which I can’t wait to buy from! After shopping with this mind-set for a few months now, I have found myself at a loss when visiting high street chains. I recently went shopping in Lincoln, where I went through several fast fashion stores. I was wandering through feeling so uninspired by all of the clothing, I just kept thinking to myself, at what cost have these clothes been to our environment?
Fast fashion brands are now also launching regularly updated jewellery collections, inspired by the latest trends. A lot of these pieces of jewellery are often copied from smaller, independent businesses designs. I’m speaking
from personal experience when I say that this jewellery is often poorly made and tarnishes after a few wears. This is why I initially chose to work with sterling silver, as it doesn’t tarnish, and creates beautiful quality jewellery. My feelings towards the fast fashion industry are what inspired me to create good quality, timeless pieces of jewellery. I want my jewellery to be worn and treasured forever, instead of being thrown away after just a few wears.
Below, I have listed some of the awesome sustainable brands I’ve discovered since changing my shopping habits. All of these are also small independent brands which is another huge plus for me as I love supporting other small businesses.
Lucy & Yak – I actually discovered these guys a few years ago when I bought a pair of their dungarees on depop. Since then, their collection has evolved into different styles of dungarees and boiler suits, t-shirts and trousers, and now bags too! Their story is so inspiring and everything is ethically made and is totally fair trade! https://lucyandyak.com/
STALF – Possibly the best made clothing I’ve ever owned. I wear their cocoon jumpsuit and organic sweatshirt almost every day, I want it in every colour! Plus they’re based in my home town of Grimsby.. https://www.stalf.co.uk/
He. – They have some lovely pieces and consciously create small collections that you will wear again and again. They’ve also just brought out a range of Eco bags and started a vintage line! https://heofficial.com/
House of Flint – A friend recently introduced me to these and I’m so pleased, I’m eyeing up ‘the ultimate jumpsuit’.. www.houseofflint.co.uk
Retold Vintage – Handpicked and curated collections of vintage clothing. Warning, nothing hangs around for long! www.retoldvintage.com
Bug Clothing – I’m a little bit obsessed. www.bugclothing.co.uk
Phaedra Clothing – I love the silhouettes these pieces create and I can’t wait to treat myself to the ‘athena’ top! www.phaedraclothing.co.uk
Ottowin Footwear – Beautiful, beautiful shoes, all ethically made. www.ottowinfootwear.co.uk
Hazy Dayz Vintage – The coolest collection of vintage clothing www.hazydayzvintage.com