Clothes are often used as an expression of your identity, but modern fashion is starting to lose its uniqueness due to the exponential growth of fast fashion. Everyone seems to be wearing the same outfits from the same retail chains.
But fast fashion doesn't only impair our creativity; it also threatens our environment. The World Resources Institute reports that a single cotton shirt requires 2,700 liters of water to produce; a pair of jeans contributes to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of a car driving 80 miles; and clothes that have been tossed out take as long as 200 years to decompose in landfills. These are just some examples of how the production of our clothes impacts the environment.
Moreover, people are now actually buying more than twice as much clothing and keeping them for far shorter than before. This is mainly due to changing trends. While couture clothing still follows the four-season timeline, streetwear brands stick to much shorter cycles, which typically last for only one or two weeks. Clothes lose their appeal quickly and consumers are tempted to purchase more just to keep up with the latest trends.
This has led to exhausting natural resources and added pressure on factory workers. In an effort to cut costs, many major fast fashion brands build factories overseas, where labor is much cheaper. Workers are also often exposed to unsafe working environments. One example is The Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 that killed 1,100 people and injured thousands in Bangladesh. Workers are not only overworked and underpaid, their personal safety is also put at stake to produce the clothes that end up in our closets for only a couple of weeks at a time.
But those are not the only reasons to quit fast fashion. Though some clothes are undeniably stylish (at least, for a short time), they’re also made to fall apart easily. We've talked about cutting down spending on clothes here on Money & Mimosas, as putting your money into cheap but disposable items is counterproductive when you're trying to grow your wealth. That said, how do you actually quit fast fashion given that it’s the most convenient option? Here are some tips to get you started:
Reuse, repurpose, donate
If you’re aiming to build a more sustainable closet, start with reorganizing what you already have. Sort your clothes into piles consisting of what you can still wear and what you’re ready to let go of. Rather than throwing them out in the garbage, it’s best to find a second use for your clothes — whether it’s for you or for someone else. If you'd rather not refurbish or recycle, find charities that can benefit from your used items and give them a new home.
Buy less and better
It’s highly unlikely that you won’t go shopping ever again, but you can pledge to reduce your spending sprees. And when you do buy clothes, invest in staples that you actually like and come in good quality. For instance, the range of dresses on Woman Within balance comfort and style — from flirty short dresses for hot summer days, to more cool and casual midi dresses for day-to-night comfort. Skip the trends and prioritize comfort and designs that are long-lasting, but more importantly made from quality materials.
Know your brands
Fortunately for conscious consumers, responsible brands have increased in number. What’s great about it is that sustainable fashion doesn’t always have to be expensive, as the range of different garments from brands like Siizu and Girlfriend Collective prove. These labels provide a multitude of options for fashion-conscious individuals who also happen to be into ethically made and sustainable products.
If you want something that’s uniquely you, don’t overlook your local vintage store. The beauty of vintage is that it never goes out of style, and given that it’s second-hand clothing, it is the more environmentally- and budget-friendly alternative to the clothes you might be considering buying in your local mall.
About Money & Mimosas: Money & Mimosas was started as a passion project by Danetha, a former NFL cheerleader and CFO. After a brunch conversation with girlfriends, Danetha was inspired to launch a resource to learn how they could all enjoy life while being smart with their money. Because who doesn’t want to have their money and mimosas, too?