Y’all, I have a confession. Sometimes I hate that I can’t just go and easily shop at a fast fashion shop like Madewell. They have so many things that I would love to wear. AND they offer it in XXS and petite sizing which is super hard for me to find secondhand or ethically made. If you too have a hard time finding your size from ethically sourced clothing you feel my pain.
But can we go shopping for our closets in the most responsible way, even if it means buying fast fashion?
The point of sustainable fashion is to make more conscious choices when it comes to buying clothing, right?
New to the sustainable fashion world?
Ethical fashion is still a growing movement. What’s out there doesn’t currently fit the needs for everyone when it comes to sizes, affordability, and style. You might have to branch out of this world a little bit at first to find the things you need, and that’s okay.
This is not an all or nothing lifestyle, all are welcome in the world of trying to do better.
So where should you start?
Focus on buying with intention
Focus on buying quality
Focus on buying slowly
So let’s say there is a piece of clothing you have been looking for, for months and you happen to find it at a non-ethically made store. Maybe you were out shopping with friends and you just stumbled upon it? You don’t buy it since it’s not ethically made and move on with your day pouting since you just passed up on that thing you have been looking for for months.
Guys, we do not live in a perfect world. We are all just trying to do better with what we have, right?
So let’s be realistic with ourselves.
Know your wants VS. needs
No, we don’t live in a world where we only need clothes for warmth and for that I am so very grateful. We get to dress for fun! But let’s be mindful and calculated, both for the sake of our wallets and sanity. Shop with a purpose and not as a hobby.
Keep a list of you closet gaps so you know the exact pieces you need and not just continue to buy the same type of thing over and over again.
A basic like a black cardigan can be hard to find secondhand or affordably priced if it’s ethically made. Sometimes you might that perfect cardigan at a fast-fashion place. Inspect it to see the fiber content, is it made of cotton, rayon, or wool? Does it look like it was sewn well?
Not all fast fashion is created equal. There are some brands out there that still offer quality made garments that would last a while in your wardrobe.
Try to find it secondhand
Now I have managed to find an item on my wishlist thrifting or at an online secondhand store plenty of times. A lot of these fast fashion places tend to do the same stuff year after year. You will more than likely be able to search for a similar Madewell lacy blouse on eBay and find something super similar from a few years ago.
I just scored my dream, Dr. Martens, off Depop. I decided to be patient and wait to find them used since I knew it was something I could live without.
Can’t find an ethical or secondhand solution?
Here we are back at the mall, you find that perfect piece and it’s at H&M (GASP!). It hits all the boxes, cotton looks like it was sewn well, it fits you! You can imagine wearing it all the time!
You know you have searched for this particular piece and you just can’t find it anywhere. This is when feel like its okay to just buy it even though its from a fast fashion shop. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself, plus your time could be used for something else besides spending too much time looking for that simple basic, ethically made or secondhand.
Wanna make a difference? take action!
What about voting with your dollar, and not supporting bad companies with your money?
The truth is protesting with your dollar really doesn’t work unless you are also being vocal to those companies you are protesting.
They will not notice that $20 you took elsewhere. What they do notice is when you email them and let them know why they lost you as a shopper.
Tell them you want them to start paying their workers fair wages
Tell them you want them to start using organic cotton
Let’s talk about Madewell again, they know their shoppers. I use to shop there but stopped when I learned the problems behind the fast fashion industry. BUT I never emailed them to tell them why! I basically broke up with them via text (remember how Brittany Spears ended her marriage?) this is lame and not helpful for both parties.
But, thankfully they paid attention and others voiced their concerns. So, what ended up happening? They came out with organic cotton jeans, then fair trade denim that’s dyed with shrimp shells??!! They are listening and CHANGING.
You need to let the big brands know that they lost you as a shopper and WHY. Head on over to your old favorite fast-fashion spots and email them, please don’t spam their Instagram accounts. Just email them why you no longer regularly shop there. Believe me, they care!
Now the trick to this whole thing is to be mindful that change like this is going to take a while. But remember, a company would be nothing without their customers! We as consumers have the power to make a difference!