I had been guilty of shopping a lot in the past, doing a lot of emotional shopping and just shopping for fun. Eventually I ended up with a closet full of things I never wear or don’t love to wear; things that don’t represent my personal style. Oh, that top that looked so cool in the store? But now I don’t really like it… why bother, I paid just $15 for it. Throw it out, because it is out of fashion already anyway… With time, I stopped feeling excited about sales or new trends.
Fast Fashion Approach
The magazine, online and TV ads and commercials are pressuring you to buy the latest must-haves each season, and the interesting thing is that their seasons are not your regular four seasons. There are at least 26 going up to 52 micro-seasons! Yep, there are 52 weeks in the year, 52 seasons for fast fashion. Chasing big revenue, fast fashion makes disposable clothes so cheap that anyone can afford to buy and wear them for several weeks then throw them away, contributing to environmental pollution and poverty in certain regions. Fast fashion works non-stop to create new styles each week, because new styles and new must-haves will bring them more customers and more money. Their job is to convince you that your current collection is out of fashion and you need a new one, and they doing it well, by the way.
Over a period of time I started asking the question, what is the true cost of those clothes? How much is it supposed to cost to manufacture the garment, so that we can buy it for $5, $10, $15? Think about the cost of sourcing materials, processing, manufacturing, labor and profits. Something doesn’t add up there. Who pays the true prices? I doubt that the companies with their names are on the tags do. Then add an environmental impact and exploitative way of making clothes. The truth looks pretty ugly.
All these things turned me off from shopping for a while; it was shopping when necessary rather than for entertainment. My closet, however, made me frustrated until I discovered capsule wardrobes, which inspired me to start this blog. The good news is that there is a way to consume responsibly, yet look incredible, maybe even better than you ever have before.
Steps to More Sustainable Shopping
Step 1. Avoid Shopping
Avoiding shopping is the most sustainable way of shopping. See what you own and try to make those things work. One of the goals of this blog is to inspire you to create beautiful outfits with minimal garments. While no shopping is an ideal way to shop, it is nearly impossible in our consumer society, so…
Step 2. Shop Less
Shop only when it is necessary. Not for entertainment, but when you need to. A well composed capsule wardrobe is a great tool to help you avoid shopping in between seasons. Choose quality over quantity; invest in timeless pieces that can serve you for years to come.
Step 3. Shop Consignment Stores
If you cannot imagine yourself going without shopping for several months, consider shopping in consignment stores. Especially curated consignment stores that are not the regular second-hand stores. It is a whole new level of thrift store. The items they accept for resale are usually sorted by a person with a fine eye, hence the quality and cleanliness are key when they choose garments for sale. I love one of our local consignment stores. The lady owner is doing an amazing job. You probably would never guess which of my outfits are from there. 🙂 Check out two of my favorite on-line consignment stores: ThredUp and TheRealReal (luxury brands only)
Step 4. Shop Eco-Friendly Brands
The next best thing is to shop ethical brands who consider the environment and working conditions of employees during sourcing, processing and manufacturing. The best way is to buy locally. The slow fashion movement is on the rise nowadays, as are artisans who handmake beautiful, fair trade and sustainable clothing and accessories. I am constantly researching new eco-friendly brands, and will be posting my findings here under the “Sustainable Shopping” category.
Step 5. Limit Your Shopping In Fast Fashion Stores.
The eco-friendly fashion is more subtle and muted than fast fashion styles. It is more relaxed and baggy-ish. I recently was shopping for some feminine heels, and almost gave up, because majority of ethical brands did not have what I was looking for until I stumbled upon this brand. But at that time, I realized that even if you have committed to green fashion, I don’t think you should beat yourself up for buying garments from the regular fast fashion stores if there are no other options. Just think of this option as the least desirable.
These are my best practices to keep my shopping sustainable. I would love to hear from you; what do you think? What are your sustainable shopping methods?
Also published on Medium.