Three ways to break up with fast-fashion

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We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve hit “confirm payment” on an item of clothing we’d just seen on the trusty ‘gram a few minutes before. With all of the “Buy Now, Pay Later” options available to us, it’s become even easier to buy without monitoring how much we’ve actually bought, and without giving any thought to the consequences that come from this extremely easy process.

If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you’re aware of the ethics in the fashion industry, or at least have a loose grasp on them. You’d probably know it’s become the norm for workers to be exploited in the making of the clothes we buy, and consequently that there is now a requirement to put the word ‘ethical’ in front of fashion as a way to ensure that these people are paid a living wage to make our clothes. Not a minimum wage, a living one.

The truth is that the word ‘ethical’ is subjective; it means a different thing to each and every one of us. There is one thing, however, that we’re sure we can all agree on: allowing an extremely capable group of people hindered by their socioeconomic situation to be stuck in a cycle of 14+ hour working days without earning enough to cover two meals a day, let alone rent and the rest, is not okay. It’s not all gravy. It ain’t all good in the hood.

We’re all at different stages of our ‘ethical’ journey; some of us are still watching the recommended YouTube and Netflix docos and the rest have permanently switched to sustainably sourced linen and hemp. We are big believers in doing the best you can, wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got, but there is always room for improvement.

Don’t get us wrong, every little bit helps! Making the jump from a $4.50 basic shirt to a $60 one is a lot to wrap our heads around, especially when we’ve been conditioned to think that the cheaper an item of clothing is, the better. So, today we want to focus on three ways you can kickstart your transition from fast-fashion extraordinaire to something more along the lines of a Safia Minney, Superman hybrid. Who’s in?

1. Unfollow fast-fashion Instagram accounts.
Scrolling. As much as we hate to think that we adhere to this stereotypical millennial trait, admit it; our thumbs just don’t know what’s good for them when they’re touching a phone screen. Do you ever find that when you’re having a casual scroll through the ‘gram, minding your own sweet business, BAM; that girl you followed ‘cause you liked her hair in that photo is telling you to buy the shirt she’s wearing? Not only is this annoying, but it’s also one of the ways in which the fast-fashion industry is using social media to make us their bitches. The constant promotion of cheaply-made clothing that fills our social media feeds has made mindful consuming harder. Cutting off that problem from its source is the best way to combat it.

2. Unsubscribe from email lists.
We bet your email inbox is filled with promotions from online fashion boutiques. Don’t feel bad; before we started our ethical fashion journeys, ours were too. We’d get emails from our go-to online shopping hubs—you know, the ones that promise your significant other would chase you around the bedroom if you just bought that top—and click straight onto that sucker without a second thought. Are you the same? Did that top come in the mail and did you wear it once without your partner even batting an eyelid? This is a vicious cycle that takes a long time to figure out and even longer to get out of. But the environment, our bank accounts, and our battered and bruised inboxes will be all be the better for it if and when we do.

3. Wait.
Wait. Just wait. If you see an item of clothing on social media that you like, wait a while. It helps to follow the classic eco-friendly fashion rules of thumb: only buy that piece if you know you’re going to keep it for at least five years or get a minimum of thirty wears out of it. If you still really want it, and if you’re still picturing yourself in it for that event you have coming up, then buy it.

Even then, instead of putting it on Afterpay or ZipMoney, try and do your best to pay for it in full at the checkout. By doing these things, you’re slowing down the process—a process designed for and dictated by you, the consumer—and buying items of clothing that will most probably become the most worn, most taken-care-of pieces in your wardrobe.

Not much is made to last in this fast-paced throwaway society of ours, and this is especially true of clothing. It’s designed in a linear structure that gives little thought to what comes of it when it has reached the endpoint. This is where you, a consumer now becoming a little more conscious of what you buy and how you buy it, step in. Being aware and in control of what you allow yourself to see every time you open up social media will help massively in your effort to no longer be a sucker to the fast-fashion frenzy, as you’ll be actively slowing down the process between seeing and buying.

None of us are perfect straight away (or ever, let’s be real), and despite what some social media accounts portray, your efforts to live more mindfully will not go astray.

Small changes added together make a massive difference. So go now, unfollow those accounts, unsubscribe from those emails, and if you see something you like... just wait that little while longer. We promise these are all great ways to save your $$$ in the long run, and you might just save the planet and help out some wonderful, deserving people along the way.


Written by Lola Asaadi