Have you ever wanted to stop shopping for fast fashion, but don’t know where to start? Do you wonder if other affordable apparel options even exist?
We hear you.
Many of us want to start making a difference with our clothing purchases, but don’t know how. It’s important to acknowledge that making a shift to shopping more sustainably may begin as a challenge. When changing any habit that we have done our whole lives, a bit of push back is expected. The more we challenge ourselves, the better we and our planet will be for it.
In our recent article about SHEIN, we discussed the dangers of shopping with fast fashion conglomerates, and the importance of ethical sourcing. But as consumers, what can we do about it?
Dhakai has compiled a list of ways you can stay within the same clothing budget, without giving into the ease of fast fashion:
Shop Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to starting your sustainable shopping journey, your first mindset shift should be to seek quality over quantity. On a nicer clothing purchase, you probably noticed that the quality of your outfit felt top tier compared to a low quality shirt from a fast fashion retailer. This outfit most likely lasted much longer than low cost clothing purchased in the past. When quality is greater, lifespan on clothing is greater as well.
So, how do you spot good quality clothing? There are various quick indicators, including but not limited to the following:
- Let your hands do the work. With higher quality clothing, fabrics are going to feel nicer. It is common for high quality fabrics to weigh more than low quality, which is something to keep in mind on your next shopping trip.
- High quality fabric has minimal stretching. If you notice that with just a slight tug, the fabric becomes distorted or feels loose, this is most likely a low quality item.
- Be weary of see-through fabrics. If a fabric is noticeably not supposed to be sheer, but you can see through it in the light, this is often the sign of a poorly made item.
- Inspect the seams. The seams of a clothing item should be tightly knitted, and should remain so with stretch. If you notice the seams seem loose or already spot holes on the garment, it’s best to pass on this piece.
Once you start to seek out higher-quality clothing, you may notice that some of these items come with a higher price tag than what you’re used to spending. One of the best ways to offset this is through less overall consumption.
While consuming less may start out as a challenge, there are many benefits to doing so. The more that is consumed, the less likely that all of the pieces of clothing you have purchased are going to be worn to their full use. Less consumption also results in more financial savings, extra space in your closet, and reduces textile waste which negatively affects our environment. Therefore, it’s much better to invest in a quality $30 shirt, than three low quality $10 shirts that you may only wear once or twice.
Consuming less needs to be paired with strategy. One of the best ways to become more minimal with clothing purchases is to create a cohesive, trendless style. This is a style particular to you, which you can see yourself wearing time and time again.
Trendless fashion is just how it sounds; you’re not following the trends. It’s about curating a style that you can wear throughout the seasons, with pieces that flow seamlessly together. When you have a closet that blends together, more outfits can be made and the need for buying more clothes diminishes.
Shop Sustainable Brands
Many brands and companies are making an effort to be entirely sustainability, or are striving towards a more sustainable future. An easy option to consider when it comes to shopping sustainably is to directly choose a sustainable retailer. These brands offer products which can be ethically made, consist of organic materials, have minimal environmental impact, are plastic-free, etc. This article offers a diverse range of clothing and price ranges for reliable, sustainable brands.
Be careful when it comes to shopping from some “sustainable” brands. Lots of fast fashion retailers are claiming to take a part in the sustainable fashion movement as a strategic PR move, versus genuinely making their businesses better. If a website lacks transparency in the supply chain and initiative towards a more sustainable future, these retailers may be greenwashing.
Shopping secondhand is always a way to shop sustainably for an affordable price. Poshmark and Etsy are both great platforms for buying quality clothing and supporting small businesses. Thrift shopping at a local charity shop or Goodwill remain great options for purchasing secondhand clothing.
Even though secondhand prices may often be lower than newly-priced clothing, it is best to continue to monitor your consumption. Lower prices do not mean you should continue to buy more.
Avoiding fast fashion and becoming a more eco-conscious shopper goes hand in hand with shopping ethically. Being an ethical shopper can mean a variety of things; supporting a local business, shopping from companies which prioritize sustainability, and buying from a business that empowers their workers are all ways to be more ethical while purchasing apparel. Contributing to a business that cares about its production process and employees will impact your fashion footprint in a positive way.
Repurpose Your Old Clothing
Dig deep into your closet to find those clothes that you wore once or twice, and haven’t touched since. When it comes to being more sustainable with your apparel, it’s best to get as much use out of your clothing as possible. Start out by restyling the clothing that you haven’t worn in awhile, and consider repurposing pieces you refuse to wear.
Consider these methods of upcycling clothes with your own closet.
As we have seen since 2020, the rental clothing business has become more prominent than ever. From everyday to special events clothing, many businesses are now offering rentals for all occasions. This is a great way to diminish your fashion footprint, save money, and stay stylish all in one.
Rent The Runway is the most popular rental site when it comes to renting high quality apparel. They offer one time rentals or monthly subscription plans to potential customers.
Discount Department Stores
If you’re not a fan of secondhand shopping, a discount department store may be a good option for you. Stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross are all discount stores which purchase their items from retailers who have extra stock to sell. A majority of clothing at these stores tend to be name brand, at a discounted price from the original retailer. While this isn’t considered the most sustainable option, discount stores give apparel a second chance to sell on the retail floor before being sent to the landfill. This gives access to higher quality clothing, at a discounted rate.