What’s the alternative?
Fast fashion is appealing because, well, it’s cheap. A $20 pair of jeans versus a $200 ethically made pair, seems like the obvious choice for most. It’s also tough to love our clothes and want to keep wearing them for longer when fashion stores have new styles dropping almost daily, and we’re constantly bombarded with powerful marketing telling us what we ‘need.’ Buying responsibly made clothing also often comes with a higher price tag.
But, there are ways to make ethical and sustainable clothing choices without breaking the bank.
Buy Preloved or Rent
According to thredUP’s 2019 Resale Report, the demand for second-hand fashion is set to overtake fast fashion within the next ten years. In 2018, the secondhand market accounted for $28 billion, compared to $35 billion for fast fashion and in ten years, the secondhand market is expected to reach $64 billion. Buying pre-loved clothing is an earth-friendly and affordable way to avoid buying fast fashion.
Where to buy preloved
- Vestiare Collective
- The Real Real
Imagine having access to a wardrobe of thousands of designer dresses, bags, and accessories available to you at a click of a button, for a mere fraction of the price and delivered to your front door. This concept of sharing and exchanging clothes is nothing new. Women have been doing this for centuries.
Where to rent
Shop your wardrobe or Swap
Is your wardrobe an abyss with pieces that haven’t seen the light of day for years? Before you go to buy nothing new, go shopping inside your own wardrobe, you’ll probably find you already have what you planned to buy. Wear old things new ways, invite a friend over and ask them to help you style pieces in ways you hadn’t previously thought of. You really can repurpose what you have.
Attend or host a clothing swap. It’s a great, sustainable and free way to score some new clothes while discarding some old one responsibly. Check out the Global Fashion Exchange and The Clothing Exchange for swaps near you.
Slow Down and Invest in Quality
Invest in well-made clothes from ethical fashion brands, pieces you know you’ll love and wear for many years. These pieces often come with a higher cost, so you’re more likely to stop and think if you actually need it.
Finally, invest in what you already own. So many of us are guilty of throwing clothes away as soon as they’re damaged. Get yourself a great seamstress, bag, and shoe repair person on speed dial and give life back to something you once loved. It’s worth spending a little bit of money on getting things fixed rather than re-buying the same thing again.
Deal with your unwanted clothes responsibly
There are several ways you can recycle your used clothing.
- Donate – Op shops like Salvos and Vinnies will accept your old threads BUT remember the general rule; if you wouldn’t give it to a friend, then it’s not in good enough condition to donate.
- Sell them on eBay, Gumtree or consignment shops
- Repurpose – Pinterest is a great place to discover ways you can repurpose old clothing—from turning sweaters into purses and t-shirts into blankets.