Breaking the cycle of a fast-fashion mindset is hard. In reality, buying cheap clothes regularly can become more than a habit; it can be an addiction. While ethical clothing that has been designed with sustainability in mind is usually far more expensive, there are countless benefits to switching up the way you shop. But first, you have to say goodbye to disposable garments.
Here are three tips for changing your mindset forever. Buyer beware. You might be about to embark on an entirely new way to shop and feel good about the clothing you buy.
1. Audit what you have
Wait until you have a whole day free and take your time. Get every piece of clothing you own out and think about them one by one. Do you wear it regularly? Does it bring you joy when you do? Does it fit well and has it washed how you expected it to? You need to answer a firm yes to every question to warrant keeping anything, apart from event clothing which is obviously a rare wear. Anything that does not fit the criteria, put in a pile. Everything else, put away and out of your mind. It’s time to look at the potential discards.
How many pieces are what you’d consider to be cheap? Which are from fast-fashion companies? Hang on. Do you know which brands come under the umbrella term? It’s not just those that have been in the press due to slave labour concerns, there are plenty of high street offenders as well. This brings us neatly to tip number two.
2. Educate yourself about the brands you buy from
With your reject pile of clothing in front of you, take a look at the brand tags. You’ll probably begin to notice that you have a handful of regular haunts that you go to as a matter of habit. Separate your pile into brands and see where you spend the most money and then, get online and look into the credentials of each brand. You might be surprised to learn that your go-to high street jeans supplier is producing clothing unethically. It will most likely be behind the times in terms of energy and water-saving initiatives as well.
Now, be honest with yourself. How long does clothing last from each of these stores? If you buy four pairs of skinny jeans for £30 each year, wouldn’t it be better economy to buy one £120 pair that will last you years and can be repaired? Value and cost are not the same thing. This is the biggest lesson you will learn in your mission to shop more ethically.
3. Find your style
It can take years and plenty of experimenting but finding your true style will lead you to a host of clothing companies that you can feel good about supporting. It also allows you to embrace more of a capsule wardrobe ethos. When buying from ethical companies, the cost can be prohibitive, especially at the start. Switching out fast-fashion t-shirts for organic cotton alternatives will never not feel jarring. But when you have a recognisable style, you can streamline your wardrobe and focus on fewer more high-quality pieces. You’ll probably naturally start moving towards a one-in-one-out mindset as well, just because each purchase counts and has to be soberly considered.
What all of these tips come down to is that cheap and more isn’t better. When you swap low cost for high ethics you‘ll inevitably end up with less clothing, but that which you do invest in will be Superior. Buying less and buying better means you will be reducing your contribution to climate change two-fold and you’ll have conscious disposal options as well. And this brings us back around to those reject clothing piles.
Donate, recycle and sell on where you can. Make a meaningful contribution to the circular fashion economy. The more use fast-fashion clothing gets the less impact it has in the long run. By converting something designed to be disposable into a long-lasting garment, you are disrupting the system from within and making a meaningful step towards a new way of consuming.