I used to be a pro in looking for the cheapest clothes. It’s not that I was buying stuff just because it was cheap. I literally went on city trips with friends to buy clothes that were different than what my peers were wearing and that suited my personal style. It had to be cheap though, because only then could I own plenty of clothes with my small budget… I would never wear the same outfit twice in a month. The reason I tell you this is so you can see that I’m not a saint. I did use to frequent H&M and Primark and during the sales period even Zara. I spent hours on Asos looking for the cheapest options. But then for some reason all this started to change.
Do you remember the 24th of April 2013? This was the day of the Rana Plaza disaster and I still see myself sitting at the breakfast table in the Morning looking at the pictures of this horrific event. Something started to click… Some brands were mentioned as being the partner of these factories and they all sounded too familiar. My stomach turned over and suddenly I felt this immense feeling of guilt. The label inside my clothes weren’t just letters anymore. I suddenly realised what ‘made in Bangladesh’ really meant.
For a while I just stopped buying clothes. I felt like the only way to cope with this industry was not to participate in it at all. This lasted for a while until I realised that the clothes I bought were not sustainable, their quality wasn’t good enough to last and most of all they weren’t really versatile. So I started shopping again, but this time it was different. I only bought clothes when I needed them and I thought twice before buying. I also started to look into sustainable brands and invested some money in long lastig, high quality versatile pieces.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015. There was this documentary on Netflix called the True Cost. I felt that I had to watch it but I kind of put it off for a while. I knew it would bring up these feelings of guilt all over again. Fortunately though I did. And this Movie changed my life. I advise everyone to watch it, to see the faces and the stories behind your clothes.
After seeing the True Cost I realised that having a small budget and being a student is not an excuse for supporting a cruel and polluting industry. From that moment on I decided to never buy any fast fashion again. Was it going to be easy? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
My closet changed, each piece now has a story. I know where it comes from and who I’ve supported.
The guidelines are easy.
Buy less and buy smart. Think about what you want your style to be like and what the essentials are for that. Did you know that most of the clothes we buy aren’t even worn more than 7 times?
Look at the item you’re going to buy and think about how many times and in how many ways you’re going to wear it. Do you love the item so much that you wouldn’t mind wearing it every day?
Then go in for the search: Is there a sustainable brand that is selling what you are looking for or maybe you can find it second hand? What about a local designer from your town?
It might feel weird at first to be investing time in looking for that one item. But once you found it though, you will cherish it so much more. And it will last for years to come.
I hate to break it to you but you ARE responsible for the things you buy. Many argue that it’s too hard and inconvenient to start shopping more consciously. But you have to remember who the real victim is in the fast fashion industry and that is not you.
Inconvenience and budget are not an excuse for supporting and industry that violates basics human rights and fills up landfills while making their western managers richer and richer.
Watch the True Cost Movie (it’s on Netflix). It will change your life.
Once people have made the decision to shop more consciously they are kind of stuck in a dilemma: they want to stop buying fast fashion, but they don’t know how. I totally agree that going slow fashion requires some research and it can be time consuming. This is personally something I love since it made me look at fashion in a whole different way. But I understand that not everyone has the time or motivation to go through this.
So here are a few things to get you started:
Be inspired, there are others out there who took the plunge before you and want to help you along the way. I personally find following people on instagram and youtube that are conscious about these things a good way to be both motivated and find out about new eco and/or fair brands. Some of my favourites:
Over time I’ve saved some brands on my Pinterest boards to be able to find them again when I’m looking for something specific. Feel free to take a look at them and discover fair brands you did not know of.
Looking for a dress to wear to my brother’s wedding proved to be quite hard (although I did find one in the end!). But I discovered some really nice brands for special occasions along the way. You can check them out on this board:
Looking for shoes? There are lovely brands out there that combine style with consciousness.
And yes you can even get ethical underneath your clothes.
And last but not least, buying fair is definitely possible for men as well.