My 2020 resolution that I set in January was to “quit fast fashion.” For me, quitting fast fashion meant no more shopping at cheap “mall brand” fashion stores like Forever 21 or H&M or online shopping with brands like Nasty Gal or Fashion Nova. I didn’t know the depth and damage fast fashion caused, I just knew I was tired of spending money on sh*t clothes that never lasted long. Also, since I do sell vintage clothing, I felt like I wasn’t doing myself a service to my business or my brand when I would wear new, modern clothes. I wasn’t representing the lifestyle I promoted while wearing new fast fashion items.
Why quit fast fashion?
I turned 30 this year. And I feel like it’s about time I start acting like an adult! I’m serious… like I’m tired of throwing my money away blindly at companies I know nothing about. And fast fashion brands are notorious for paying workers low wages (mostly female workers too) and negatively impacting the environment in a myriad of ways. I’m just not down for that. As a 30-year-old lady, I am mindful (!), and I can’t turn a blind eye just for the sake of a cute top I see at Urban Outfitters.
Three areas of importance that impacted my decision to quit (or greatly reduce) investing in fast fashion brands:
- Impact on the environment
- Welfare of garment workers
- Animal welfare
I would like to express that I do not know everything about the impacts of fast fashion. But here are some great facts about the industry’s impact on the environment, garment workers, and animal welfare.
Things You Can Do Now for a Sustainable Closet
Organize Your Closet & PURGE
- To have a sustainable closet means you must know what’s in it! I organize my closet based on style and garment type.
- My formal/dressy clothes, which I rarely go to for everyday wear, are in the back of my closet, along with clothes that are not in season right now.
- I then organize my casual, everyday wear by type – blouses, tanks, jumpsuits, skirts, jeans, pants, shorts, etc. There are a variety of ways to organize a closet – this is just the way that works for me!
- Once I organized my closet by type, I realized what was lacking and what I had way too much of (too many sweaters and not enough skirts!). I also realized that I had certain garments that I never wore!
- When you have items you don’t wear, it’s time to do a try-on! Why don’t you wear this garment? Does it fit weird? Is it itchy? Or was it just forgotten?
- For all the garments that don’t fit right or are just not going to work for your style right now, PURGE. Be honest with yourself and your clothes. If it hasn’t fit in two years, it’s time to say goodbye.
- You can donate or even sell your clothes! Sell your gently used clothing online with Poshmark, Depop, Mercari and eBay. High end items and name brands do well on these sites. Or you can always head to a consignment store with your clothes, such as Buffalo Exchange, Plato’s Closet, or Crossroads Exchange. Or do a clothing swap! Somebody out there will enjoy your clothes!
Delete Fast Fashion Apps
- If you are an online shopper like I am, I’m sure you have a number of shopping apps on your phone. ASOS, GAP, Urban Outfitters, and Nasty Gal were my top shopping apps. I would check new arrivals often, and even receive notifications from the apps throughout the day.
- Does this sound like you? If it does, then it’s time to DELETE THOSE APPS! Delete them I say! If you want a sustainable closet, those apps are tempting you to purchase fast fashion.
- Just because you delete the apps does not mean you need to stop shopping! Instead, download apps like Poshmark and Depop, where you can purchase clothing items from small businesses and resellers. If you enjoy “new with tag” clothing, those garments can be found on these apps too, but instead of giving your money to a major fast fashion company, you are supporting a real person and someone’s small business instead!
Add the Good on You App (or visit GoodonYou.eco)
- If you absolutely want to purchase new clothing items instead of used, I highly recommend researching the company on Good on You.
- The rating a company receives on Good on You may just change your mind about purchasing from that company. It’s a great resource for sustainable fashion!
Wear What You Have
- One of the most sustainable things you can do for your closet is WEAR WHAT YOU HAVE!
- So what if your closet is full of fast fashion brands? Wear them! There is no point in donating all of your fast fashion items simply to replace with used clothing or slow fashion brands. It’s ok to wear fast fashion brands, as long as it was already in your closet or found used or purchased from a reseller.
- I grew up with a mindset that I needed a new wardrobe every year. I think “school clothes shopping” gave me this mindset, where I would need new clothes every season. However now that I’m an adult, it’s okay to re-wear items, re-use outfits, and ultimately have things in your closet that you continue to wear for years to come.
Rework Your Old Garments
- A great way to find love for your older garments is to rework them! Turn your old jeans into cut-off shorts. Bleach dye your cotton tees, jeans, and sweatshirts.
- If you aren’t much of a DIYer, then visiting a tailor is a great option to change up your old clothes. Simply hemming a maxi dress into a midi or mini can bring life into a dress and be fairly affordable.
Purchasing Clothes Moving Forward
- I have touched on this a bit within this post already, but moving forward, consider buying used. There are a multitude of ways to buy used clothing now, including in-person thrifting and online shopping.
- Thrifting in person is a great way to buy used. One of the most popular thrift stores, Goodwill, is a great option. However if you would like a more curated thrift experience, then consignment stores (like the ones I mentioned above, e.i, Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange) are great options that make used clothing a bit more approachable to modern shoppers.
- Online “thrifting” is another avenue that I’ve come to enjoy. I do love shopping in person, even if it’s just browsing the shops at the mall. So what I’ve been doing to keep my closet sustainable is window shop in person and then buy used online! If I see something at Madewell or Macy’s that I like, I take a picture of it and the tag, and then browse Poshmark or eBay for the garment. It saves me money, and I’m not investing in fast fashion directly!
- It’s ok to buy new sometimes… just be mindful!
- Purchase slow fashion brands instead! Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. So these brands are ethical, mindful companies that are usually small business. Investing in slow fashion can be pricey, however it is an investment in a well-made and ethically-made garment. My favorite slow fashion brands are Back Beat Co., Tradlands, Kotn, and LACAUSA.
- My exception….
- For me, my exception to buying used is buying small business. If I see a Free People top at a small boutique shop, I may consider actually buying it because it supports my local small business.
- Buy for a sustainable closet
- Buy items that you will wear time and time again. Think to yourself.. will I wear this next year? I am notorious for buying costume pieces and garments for just one occasion. It’s understandable! But when we buy items that we can continue to wear, we have a more sustainable wardrobe. For example, when I was pregnant, I actually didn’t buy into purchasing many maternity items. I purchased items that could be worn after pregnancy too, like flowy dresses!
Buying Old (aka Vintage!)
- As an owner of a vintage clothing shop, I am continually searching for vintage clothing that reflects modern style. And since trends are cyclical, it isn’t that hard to find vintage items that match the trends of today.
- When it comes to shopping for vintage, you can search thrift stores and estate sales. Check out my article to learn more on how to spot vintage clothing. However if you don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to hunt for vintage, there are so many great vintage sellers like myself that do the hunting for you! My favorite vintage shops that sell online are Saguaro Shoppe, Meek Vintage, Awoke Vintage, and Seven Sisters Vintage. However there are so many online and brick-and-mortar vintage stores that are worth shopping at too!
- My tip for staying on-trend while wearing vintage may surprise you, but I recommend actually following some fast fashion brands on social media. Ok, I know this goes against what I said about deleting fast fashion apps from my phone, but I do get inspiration from accounts like Urban Outfitters and Madewell. If I see a denim jumpsuit trending on Urban Outfitter’s Instagram account, I am definitely going to look into stocking my vintage shop (or my closet!) with a denim jumpsuit! Fast fashion is a gruesome business, but it’s popularity is based on fleeting trends that really were inspired by vintage threads! Many fast fashion garments are “vintage-inspired” for a reason, because that vintage look sells! But you can buy “true” vintage instead of the inspired stuff! True vintage pieces will last longer than a fast fashion vintage-inspired item too!
- A sustainable wardrobe, just like any wardrobe, will change through time. Never stop educating yourself on fast fashion and sustainable clothing.
- One of my favorite resources is the book, The Conscious Closet.
- I also listen to the Pre-Loved Podcast, which features stories of resellers and sustainable clothing gurus.
I am in no way an expert on sustainable fashion, but this year has been transformative to me and my closet. After years of shopping fast fashion, I am happy to say that I love my closet now more than ever. I think about every single piece of clothing I purchase. I wear every piece of clothing in my closet now too! Shop used, shop slow fashion, shop your closet, and shop mindfully!