By now, we’ve all heard of the buzz term ‘fast fashion’. Clothes seen on the runway and on pop culture icons, appearing on the racks of high street stores almost overnight. They’re trendy, they’re cheap, but most importantly, they’re totally unethical. Clothes like this are bought with the intention of wearing a couple of times before being replaced by the next trend. Today, the amount of discarded clothing found in landfills is astronomical, and this is constantly being added to by fast fashion companies. It’s important that we all think about where the clothes we buy come from and what happens to them when we’re finished with them. Of course, cutting out fast fashion completely isn’t an option for everyone, and I’m definitely still guilty of it, but here’s just a few tips to get us all started on our slow fashion journeys.
1. Avoid trends, find your own style
“Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater!”
It can be really easy to get sucked into the world of fashion trends, but this is by far the leading contributor to ‘throw away’ culture. Clothes are being produced at an alarming rate, and both prices and quality are dropping. Instead of getting sucked into the tempation of buying things you’ll only wear once or twice, try finding your own personal style. As designer Vivienne Westwood once said, “Buy less, choose well, make it last”. Investing in pieces you know you’ll wear until they’re almost falling apart is much more eco-friendly (and better for your bank account too). I bought a harrington jacket almost ten years ago and it’s STILL my favourite jacket. Say it with me – My name is Lizzie McGuire, and I AM an outfit repeater.
2. Buy second hand or vintage
Thankfully, with the rise in popularity of slow fashion, a lot more people are buying second hand. Although lockdown means that charity shops are closed for the foreseeable, there’s still online alternatives. ASOS Marketplace offers some great pieces, or if you have a bit more cashdollah to spend try luxury second hand websites like Vestiaire Collective. Some cool Irish Instagram pages to check out are @candidfrankvintage, @spicevintage and @dublinvintagefactory.
Aside from Instagram, Depop is the biggest god sent of the 21st century. I urge anyone who doesn’t have it to download ASAP. There are so many people selling preloved clothing, some barely worn or completely brand new, for a fraction of the retail price. Some accounts I like are @cometheroux, @evelilyp and @vintagerevamp. Apart from
buying, it ‘s also a space for anyone to sell their unwanted clothes! Clear space in your wardrobe, make a few bob, AND look out for the environment! It’s a win win.
There’s a TikTok trend at the moment where people are cutting the padding out of bras and ending up with these adorable lacy bralettes. I didn’t believe it until I tried myself this morning, and oh my god, my world has changed. If you have a lot of unworn clothes that you don’t really reach for anymore, consider upcycling them! Transform them into something new that you’ll want to wear. There’s hundreds of tutorials on youtube for beginners, a lot of which you don’t even need a sewing machine for. Upcycling also means your new creation is totally unique. Who doesn’t wanna wear something that’s one of a kind?
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to transform a t-shirt into a tote bag!
4. Research clothing companies
If there’s something you can’t find second hand and you need to buy off the rack, make sure you do some background research on the websites or shops you’re buying from. Check out things like how environmentally friendly they are; how they treat their workers; what type of materials do they use.
Something I’ve only become aware of recently is the detrimental effect polyester has on the environment. Basically the fabric is a form of plastic, which is derived from fossil fuels. This means that not only does it contribute to global warming but it’s also not biodegradable. It can take decades to decompose. Where possible, try to opt for natural materials like cotton and hemp.
There’s a great app called ‘Good On You’, which scores brands on their ethical ratings. It’s super handy for finding out more information on companies, and also for discovering new brands you may not have heard of! Their website, of the same name, has a lot of interesting blog posts on sustainability and combating fast fashion.