Think about your closet. Where did you get your clothes? How much did they cost and what are they made from? If you're like a lot of people, there's a good chance your wardrobe is largely made up of cheap, synthetic items - what's commonly referred to as fast fashion.
Fast fashion brands are a relatively new innovation, premised on cheap materials and labor, and they allow companies to sell huge amounts of clothing built on rapidly changing trends. And, as quickly as these brands popped up throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, they've proliferated even more quickly via social media.
Companies like Primark, which recently vowed to retool its practices in favor of more sustainable manufacturing, or Shein, whose ads populate social media feeds, dominate the market and are destroying the environment in the name of items people wear just two or three times before throwing them out. Now, it's time to turn things around.
Consider Your Materials
One of the best things you can do as a consumer, if you hope to make smarter style choices, is to carefully consider the materials you're buying. Fast fashion items are often made of synthetic fibers like polyester, which are fundamentally not very different from plastic products, and they're not designed to last. They disintegrate quickly and fall out of fashion even faster.
Instead of opting for these cheap, short-lived items, consider looking back to more traditional, natural materials. High-quality cotton, hemp fiber, wool, and bamboo are all ideal materials, comfortable and long-lasting when you care for them properly. As for your accessories, ditch the cheap pleathers and plasticky wallets in favor of a durable leather wallet that will last you for years.
Another way to reduce the impact of your fashion choices is by thinking about what garments and accessories you'll wear more than a few times. Fast fashion brands are built on the idea that people will buy cute, trendy items but won't wear them often, if at all; it's really about consumer culture, not clothing.
A sustainable closet includes items you'll wear repeatedly - many experts recommend at least thirty wears. Realistically, though, if you have an item you love enough, and that's high quality enough, to wear thirty times, you'll probably wear it more than that, which is even better.
Rebuy And Repurpose
The reality is that fast fashion brands, as well as many affordable companies, aren't going anywhere fast, so smart shoppers should learn to consider the alternatives. Creating or buying upcycled fashion is a great way to diversify your wardrobe and keep things exciting without adding fast fashion garments to the landfill.
Or, consider shopping secondhand and giving pre-owned items a new life, holding clothing swaps with your friends and neighbors, or sharing clothing via a local Buy Nothing network. Anything that keeps clothing in circulation for longer is a great choice.
There are certainly some items you can't buy in cotton or wool, like your workout clothes, which is when buying quality becomes even more important - you want these items to last a long time. When it comes to your everyday clothes, your bags and backpacks, your coats and shoes, though, emphasize the strategies above. They'll keep you looking great while also protecting the environment.