Despite a love for fashion as an art, fashion as an industry causes me great sadness. Between the human and animal rights violations that occur in factories all over the world, to the extreme toll it takes on the environment, to the sacrifice of quality for profit, our industry is extremely flawed. The more that I learn about the fast fashion industry, the more I want to start shopping smarter and break the cycle. Here are some tips to make smarter choices the next time you find yourself wandering the mall!
1—Spend more, buy less. As someone on a college student’s budget, fast fashion is tempting; it allows you to get more for less and to keep up with rapidly changing trends, and still leaves you with money to fulfill your basic needs, like food and rent! Quality clothing is usually more expensive because it is designed and produced with care; when you buy quality, you’re making an investment. Instead of buying heaps of cheap, poorly made clothes, save your hard earned paycheck for affordable quality. Spend your money on a few key pieces that you know you will get years of wear out of. Buy classic pieces, and keep your outfit updated with jewelry and accessories.
2—Fashion versus style. A good distinction I like to make is between fashion and style. Fashion is the external, while style is internal. Fashion is the clothes that the industry puts into stores; it is a perfect, unattainable standard we compare ourselves to. Style is about having a sense of self and expressing who you are as a person. Fashion is what is constantly changing. Understanding the difference between fashion and style, and learning about your particular type of style can help you choose what trends to follow, and filter what items are truly worth your money.
3—Get thrifty. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in our society. Most of our clothing ends up in a landfill, even if we donate it. A great way to shop that doesn’t feed into the dangerous cycle of the fashion industry is to check out thrift stores. Thrift stores the perfect places to find unique and individual pieces, and are great if you’re on the hunt for incredible deals. Renting or swapping clothes are also great ways to get new clothes for next to nothing.
4—Stop and stare. Before you buy, ask yourself a couple of questions: Would I wear this in three or four more years from now? Or, would I have worn it three or four years ago? How many items can this piece be paired with? Do I like the actual product or just the packaging? Would I buy this if I found it somewhere else, or am I just attracted to the way it is packaged and merchandised? Do I really need it?
How do you incorporate sustainability into your everyday life? Let us know in the comments below!