When it comes to fashion, and trends in particular, there’s this sense of urgency that propels us into stores and towards impulse buys from — you guessed it — easily-accessible and hugely affordable fast fashion brands. But as we know, this need for instant fashion gratification comes at a cost, from environmental impacts to humanitarian concerns in terms of labour and manufacturing.
At the end of the day, the facts about fast fashion are out there — and they aren’t pretty — but factoring in major consumer motivations like affordability, it’s not hard to see why this is such a hard habit to kick for some. For those looking to explore mindful consumerism while still keeping their bottom line (and fast-fashion faves) in mind, we’ve assembled a few pointers to get you started.
Related: Spring clean your makeup routine: 10 clean products to try now.
Be conscious about your fast fashion brands
Not every fast fashion brand is the same. Being a conscious shopper in a fast fashion world doesn’t have to mean cutting out all the brands you love, but it should mean being informed about the brands you’re choosing to support. Look into things such as labour practices and environmental waste reduction efforts and you might be surprised to find that some fast-fashion brands are taking the initiative to work towards more sustainable operations.
See also: Fashion takes a major step towards sustainability with this new legislation.
Find a balance that incorporates sustainable fashion
The sad reality is, most people can’t afford to shop 100 per cent sustainably when it comes to fashion. The unfortunate downside of many of these conscious and higher-quality sustainable brands is that their added efforts in sourcing and manufacturing simply costs more. That translates into a higher price-point for you (the buyer) and is generally the single biggest deterrent shoppers note when asked what turns them off of the sustainable brands out there today.
So, meet these efforts halfway and reconsider your budget. Those “investment pieces” you’re already splurging on for work and play? Why not scope out some sustainable options and save just a little more for a sustainable piece that will last for years? (Think: jackets, denim, boots.) Every little bit of conscious consumerism helps to keep the momentum of the sustainable movement going.
See also: I tried it: Preloved x Nicole Servinis’ sustainable active wear collab revamped my gym attire.
Buy and sell consignment
Everything old is new again — and that doesn’t just apply to trends. How many pieces of clothing are sitting in your closet, unused and in great condition? Odds are, plenty. Most of us just don’t wear everything we have, and it’s a waste. On the flipside, consignment retailers are cropping up everywhere, and with reputable sources to not only sell, but also buy, great finds, there’s really no downside to joining up. The consignment process allows shoppers to extend the life of their clothing and also partake in a more sustainable shopping practice. Not to mention a little extra cash in your pocket.
Remember to vet your consignment source of choice for things like secure buying and selling practices that protect everyone on both sides, and good customer service reviews to let you know where they stand with current and active users.
See also: 10 best websites for making money off your used clothes.
Extend the life of your fast fashion by passing it on
Consignment is a great option for those looking to make a little extra money in return for their good quality pieces, but one of the best ways to “get back” is still by giving away to those in need. Times are tough and many people are in a pinch when it comes to the necessities of life. We could all use a break, and more people than you may realize are struggling with basic needs for themselves and their families.
Charitable donations to clothing drives and local donation points, such as The Salvation Army, allows for donors to take a more sustainable route to ridding themselves of unwanted or unused clothing and accessories, while also supporting those vulnerable members of their communities. Do good, feel good and whenever possible: give back.
Related: 11 thrifting secrets from a former thrift store employee.
Resist the urge of “a good deal” and avoid impulse buying
In a world where more-is-more, it can be hard to resist the lure of an impulse buy. Fast fashion brands are pros at baiting consumers into taking the plunge on items they don’t necessarily need, but are designed to capture of-the-moment trends at irresistible prices.
When it comes to shopping, the thrill of the hunt is very real, but don’t get caught up in fleeting trends and the enticement of low prices. All of those impulse buys will add up, and you’ll be left with pieces that don’t necessarily reflect your personal style.
See also: The return of the denim maxi dress is here — and we’re into it.
Style with substance is always in fashion
It was Yves Saint Laurent who once said: “Fashion fades, style is eternal.” So, the next time you’re tempted to scoop up a new piece on impulse, take pause and ask yourself if this piece really aligns with your style and consider how many ways you can actually wear it. No trend should ever trump your own personal aesthetic.
Of course, there’s no harm in trying out new looks and experimenting with your style — but keep it authentic to what you’re into, and avoid contributing to the fast fashion trend-trap. If it’s truly a winner, it just might be worth investing in through a more sustainable brand.
You may also like: Spring trends you’ll be seeing everywhere this season.