Finding the most amount of clothes for the cheapest price makes us feel the wealthiest. In theory a good thing. But, for the vast majority of us, how we buy impacts other people around the world. This isn’t always good.
I used to think that clothes were a way of surrounding myself with more aspects of myself. But this backfires because cheap clothes fall apart, I would start to lose interest in certain items and would wear clothes for the sake of ‘getting the wear out of them’. Most of the clothes I was buying were made by people who were paid criminally low wages, and this is not something I want to surround myself with.
There is also something hypocritical in shouting ‘refugees welcome!’ and finding the idea of poverty so unjust, and yet actively participating in a system which is designed to make those countries so much poorer than ours. I won’t harp on about why the fast fashion industry is so awful, most of us deep down in our hearts KNOW that it’s bad. I’ll link some more information down below.
But what I am trying to do is this; finding clothes that actually last and that I’ll actually wear for a long time. Here’s how I am buying.
Buying from charity shops. You can and will find some gems. I would recommend travelling to slightly ‘trendier’ areas to charity shop in order to avoid stores full of granny cardigans (sorry granny’s!). Also, travelling to slightly wealthier trendy areas is a good way to go. Places I’ve found great for charity shopping are areas in North London, and places like Clifton and Gloucester Road in Bristol. I’m sure all the big cities have at least one great charity shop. Especially for people who like fashion, it is so satisfying rummaging through all the clothes and finding something great.
Buying secondhand. Literally typing in ‘Urban Outfitters’ into Ebay and you’ll find loads of secondhand stuff which has barely been worn and you’ll pay a fraction of the price for. PLUS, you won’t be giving your money to Urban Outfitters ……
Depop is also another great place to do this. And ASOS marketplace is just uhhhmazing. You can buy more well known brands second hand, plus you can buy from independent boutiques who make their own stuff. I could write a whole post on Asos marketplace..
Buying from brands that pay their workers. Brands that actually care about people over profit. Brands like this tend to be more expensive, but for a good reason. Some are more obvious than others, but I have a list of brands which don’t use poor labour to make clothes. A brand new pair of jeans are not supposed to cost £5.
I’ve changed my outlook on on buying clothes: The fashion industry does a clever thing where it makes you feel like if you don’t get something NOW you’ll never be able to find it again. Big fashion stores change their stock every single week, it is designed to make us feel like we ought to own more clothes and buy more. I don’t like being tricked like that, and I know that in the past I have totally fell for it, bought impulse buys and then hardly ever worn the item. It’s a waste of my money, the fabric itself, and all it does is serve the fashion corporations who don’t even pay their workers a 10th of what they sell the item for. The horrible trap is buying sale items in these shops, meaning that you can rarely return the item. Despite its ethical downfalls, at least buying from ASOS means that you can definitely return the item and have time to figure out if you really like it. The ‘Milk it’ brand on Asos, uses recycled material and offcuts of fabric. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. When buying an item – will you wear it 30 times? Or, say if you spend £50 on something will you wear it 50 times?
I think talking about the fashion industry is massively important, despite whether or not you’re interested in clothes – EVERYONE takes part in this industry. Pretty much everyone in the Western world buys clothes. Fashion may seem like a petty thing to talk about and be interested in (if you think like this then maybe this isn’t the blog for you), but it’s easily one of the biggest industries in the world. And some of the most principled and thoughtful and intelligent people I know still unquestioningly buy from GAP, Topshop, Primark .. etc
But hey, I’m never going to point my finger, I understand why people buy fast fashion. I understand that it seems like an impossible thing to not participate in. But if you care about worker’s rights, the environment, and want corporations to be fairer, then it is time to consider where you buy clothes. It is up to US to change how this works. I now adapt a more ‘slow fashion’ mindset, and it helps me sleep better at night. Do whatever makes you sleep better at night.
The True Cost Documentary: WATCH IT http://truecostmovie.com (It’s on netflix)
Justine Leconte’s videos on fast fashion are really informative.