How To Combat Fast Fashion

To keep consumers buying, the fast fashion industry is in a cycle of pumping out the latest trends, with regular sales to appeal to our fear of missing out or our sense of achievement. This method of the industry encourages a bursting wardrobe with clothes that don't last long, and it makes it difficult to pull an outfit together that is not a work outfit, activewear, or jeans and a t-shirt. Then you look at your wardrobe and think "I have nothing to wear". Sound familiar?
This leads to resistance to decluttering your wardrobe because you're coming from a place of lack. You're in the zone of "not enough"-ness and perfectionism.

You feel guilt about:
  • wasting money on clothes you're not happy with
  • the physical waste of the clothes and its impact on the earth
  • being unable to wear clothes you think you should because your size or body shape has changed.
Take a moment and recognise where you are now. You can't change what you have done in the past. The only power you have is in the present moment. Holding onto clothes that make you feel bad for whatever reason is just punishing yourself for not living up to internalised expectations.

Consider Your Expectations

Let's explore the expectations for a moment. How long do you expect clothes to last? A season? Three years? Ten years?

Be aware that the industry designs for failure to increase sales. This Huffington Post article explains more.

Appreciate that maintaining clothes by dry cleaning or using a dryer also gradually wears them out.

Your style and needs will change over time. So what you might buy in your 20s is not the same as what you'd buy in your 40s or what you'd buy in your 60s.

Your body will change over time. Anyone here had a baby? That's a big change over a relatively short period. You will have noticed changes too if you've had an illness or injury, or are in physical training. In the shorter term, many women experience tummy bloating or size fluctations depending on the time of the month. That's pretty common.

Your obligation is to your body first, not to your clothes. What I mean by this is that dressing for how your body is now is more important than the history of your clothes.

So what can you do?

    1. Cultivate your own style rather than being driven by trends. What brings you joy? How do you like to express yourself? What's your lifestyle? What's the climate like where you live? Do you want a wardrobe where you can pull anything out and it will match? One where you have an outfit for the life you have? One that doesn't give you decision fatigue (yes, that's a thing). Some people go to the extent that they essentially have their own uniform, like Vera Wang in this article. If more people used clothing to express themselves, you would feel freer to look for clothing that expressed you than you would feel the need to fit in.

    Once you have this part down, it is easier to shop for what you do need and what you do love, and realise when you actually don't need to shop, because you have what you need and it makes you feel good. If you need more help with this, there are wardrobe consultants and stylists who can teach you about what will work for you.
      2. Let go of the rubbish. Bag up the damaged clothes. This includes clothes with holes, stains, out of shape, faded, pilling, and things you know in your heart of hearts you are not going to get repaired. This does not go to a charity for them to put in the rubbish as that wastes their volunteer hours and money.
        3. Let go of clothes you aren't going to wear. If you have particular expensive items that are in great condition, by all means, offer them for sale. If they don't sell though, that's the time to donate. Let go of whatever you're not going to wear because it doesn't fit or sit right on you, isn't your style now, doesn't suit your lifestyle, makes you feel bad, doesn't go with anything you own, or is more maintenance than you're willing to give it. For example, I'm not keen on ironing, and because of that, I choose not to buy clothes that I have to iron, such as shirts. Let someone else love it instead. Bag it up and take it to your preferred charity.

        4. Recycle clothes. Go op shopping and find gently used clothes that won't hurt your purse. After you've asked yourself the questions above and for example, embraced your love of 1950s style, go hunting for vintage clothes. Experienced op shoppers have their own strategies and tips for shopping this way.
        5. Use sustainable fabrics. This includes bamboo, cotton, hemp, and wool. They have a smaller footprint in production, and less impact than synthetics in their lifespan. Apparently we're feeding the fish our synthetic clothing now. Natural fibres also return to the earth when they're finished.

        6. Buy quality less often. This goes back to the question I asked about how long you expect your clothes to last. Look for quality and it'll be less expensive to you over time.

        7. Find a small local business to take care of your alterations. You'll find you need this when you buy something new, like a pair of pants that are too long, or when you need to maintain what you already have, like a jacket has the hem come down.

        8. Learn how to sew or alter your own clothes. Is this something you always had a secret hankering for? Look for a workshop hosted by Spotlight, or find a group on Facebook or Meetups that will help you grow your skills. Check out Refashionista for ideas on how to transform op shop clothes using these skills.

        9. Keep in mind the tailoring of your clothes. Personally I love this option as it's adaptable to your size (within limits), and you can introduce variety through your accessories.

        You can use loose fabrics that drape and give shape using belts and brooches. See the example images below.

        You can add flexibility through corsetry (not waist training) such as in this wedding dress, or less formally as side ties in this dress. Emma Watson wears a dress with ties like this as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

        10. Go bespoke. There are tailoring services online that will create clothes to your measurements, meaning clothes that fit beautifully. I have seen this one, and let me know if you've tried any yourself.

        A new perspective

        So after all that, I've given you some context as to how your wardrobe arrived in this state, hopefully you understand your own expectations a bit better, that your needs will change over time, and to ask yourself some questions about what your needs are right now. I've shared 10 ways you can reduce your impact, know yourself better and upskill, buy clothes that will last longer, fit better, and look great, and support small businesses for creating and maintaining your clothes. If everyone made some of these choices, it would shift the focus from fast fashion to a more creative and sustainable world. Which way will you do?


        This product has been added to your cart