We’ve all been there.
“I have nothing to wear,” you think, as you stare at your wardrobe that’s bursting from every drawer. Ghosts of past trends sadly ignored on every hanger. You finally find an acceptable outfit, but the shirt you want to wear just doesn’t quite fit you right.
“Maybe one day,” you say, as you put that shirt back on the hanger. You’ll return to it in a few months, try it on again, shake your head and hang it back up. Then the cycle repeats itself.
This is how every day used to be for me. I would shop, shop, shop at every low-budget, on-trend store for the latest and most fashion-forward styles. Bring them home only to realize I don’t like the way they fit. Wear the ones that did fit only once or twice, and then accidentally shrink them in the dryer, or get bored of them as the trend fades.
I had spent so much time, money, and effort curating this massive wardrobe that would barely last me the season. As soon as the weather began promising a change of season, I would have to do it again. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
I realized that there were certain pieces in my wardrobe—such as a big, comfy knit cardigan, the perfect white tee shirt, or a pair of shoes that never give me blisters; often something that was an investment, rather than an impulse purchase—that I would turn to when I felt I had nothing else to wear. That I felt genuinely comfortable in, and that reflected my personality.
Soon my overflowing wardrobe became too overwhelming to bear, so I went through it and donated everything except for those items that I felt special wearing. I wasn’t left with much. I realized that this was my personal style, and began researching brands that made clothes that reflected this style, and treated basic pieces as high-quality investments.
This was my introduction to the world of ethical fashion.
When I was younger, I always found it odd that people would pay over $40 for a tee shirt, when you could get it for $5. As I grew up (and cycled through many, many $5 tee shirts), I realized that generally, the more you pay for an item, the longer it will last you.
I also realized that when you buy an item for so cheap someone, somewhere has to get the short end of the stick. And in the fashion industry, it’s the people who spend their days making the clothes on our backs.
The more I read about the fast fashion industry, the more I hated it. The CEO’s of my favorite brands were practically sitting on stacks of money, while their garment workers were struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis. Working forced overtime in often unsafe conditions, without receiving benefits and going home at the end of the day with such little pay that they could not afford to eat.
Learning this, and understanding that the thin, flimsy material that these brands want their clothing to be made from was forcing me, as a consumer to keep coming back for more, I quit supporting the fast fashion industry for good.
Yes, I am just one person, and I’m sure the CEO of a multi-billion dollar fast-fashion brand could care less if he loses me as a customer. However, I do believe that it’s important to vote with your dollar, and to purchase from businesses that you are proud to support, and that align with your beliefs.
And I certainly don’t support slave labor.
Here are 5 reasons why you, too should quit supporting the fast fashion industry:
- You get to shop less, and live more.
My high school self shopped every month, often multiple times per month. Now, I shop for specific items when I feel as if they will add value to my life—for example, I purchased a rain jacket before traveling to Ireland. I bought it secondhand for $20, it’s well-made, neutral in color and will last for years. Looking back, I find it ridiculous that I used to own multiple rain jackets.
Shopping less means owning less and when you have less to choose from, you won’t spend hours staring at your closet, pining over the perfect outfit. Now, every item in my wardrobe is perfect to me, and I know that I will be comfortable wearing anything that I own.
- You stand out, instead of fitting in.
I really developed my personal style once I stopped looking to brands like Forever 21 and H&M for inspiration. Now, my clothing has so much more personality, and reflects who I am as a person. I follow trends if I like them, but I no longer feel obligated to “fit in.”
- You celebrate the craftsmanship behind each article of clothing.
Anyone can design a blouse, but not everyone can sew one. I know I can’t, which is why I look at each article of clothing and appreciate the time and attention to detail that goes into making it. That time is worth so much more than the $1 a day that many garment workers currently earn.
- It’s planet and wallet friendly.
Following fast-fashion trends requires you to cycle through clothing every few months. It is currently estimated that in a year, consumers only end up keeping 21% of the clothing that they buy. Americans throw away around 68 pounds of clothing per year, and that all ends up in a landfill. That’s a lot of waste.
Investing in your clothes means that they will last for years, reducing your about of textile waste. While the upfront cost may be higher per item (think back to the $40 tee shirt situation), in the long run it will pay itself off, since you will not have to repurchase it.
- You’re supporting businesses with motives greater than growing their own bank accounts.
Brands like Nicora keep the planet, as well as it’s human and animal inhabitants in mind when designing and making their shoes. In this money-driven society they are not solely concerned with making high profits, and that is why I choose to support them over other brands on the market.
Have you made the switch to ethical fashion yet? What was your main reason for doing so? Share in the comments below!
About The Author: Taylor Wilson is a 23-year-old vegan activist with a passion for eco-ethical fashion. Through her platform, conscioustay.com, she hopes to inspire others to live a compassionate lifestyle, with consideration for the planet and all of the sentient beings living on it.