How To (Actually) Give Up Fast Fashion
Because some things are easier said than done | Part II of the Quit Fast Fashion Series
We really want you to avoid shopping at fast fashion shops and big box stores as much as you can. ICYMI, we told you why quitting fast fashion is the best idea if you want to improve the function of your wardrobe. Also, if you actually care about the environment and the people in it. But we know how it is: we all get weak sometimes, including us. (We’re certainly not here to shame fast fashion shoppers; we definitely used to be ignorant of the true cost of fast fashion and all about a $20 top, too.) You find a piece you’ve just got to have, or you want something that you’ll only wear once so don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. Generally speaking, clothes from fast fashion retailers are made based on aesthetics, not functionality. They are not made to be durable or worn past a season or two. And this is not by accident. No, guys, this is called tactic. These retailers purposefully create disposable clothing so that you (the consumer) will keep coming back time and time again.
And let’s not forget (or push out of our minds because we don’t want to face the harsh reality that) cute stuff from Forever 21, H&M, Topshop and Zara are affordable for a reason. Retailers skimp on the production costs, which mean laborers are paid literally pennies to produce them. That’s right — let’s not pretend that fast fashion is churned out by machines. Workers, who happen to be mostly women and children, are paid wages that add up to less than a hundred bucks a month (read that again, we definitely said less than a hundred bucks a month!) while the owner’s of these retailers are throwing back glasses of Armand de Brignac in their personal G5’s. Is that egregious truth really worth getting cute clothes for the price of lunch? Seriously.
Yes, it’s super easy to blame and demonize people like the owner of Zara, Amancio Ortega (whose net worth is $71.4 billon). But that’s bullshit. We all need to own up to our bad habits and take responsibility because without our money, he wouldn’t have shit. We can’t blame him and buy a stockpile of his *designs* every season. We also can’t complain about or feel sorry for these laborers and still support fast fashion retailers who thrive off of low quality and high volume to sell more than their competitors.
It’s actually life-changing
Remember, the point of quitting fast fashion is so you can become a more conscious consumer and build a dependable, versatile wardrobe that you don’t have to overhaul at the start of every season. A wardrobe that is based off looking stylish and put together, not fashionable and on-trend because that kind of wardrobe is high maintenance and much more expensive. Cheap isn’t always cheap. The main goal is to stop buying a high quantity of low-quality items every couple weeks and start thoughtfully adding select pieces that do not have to be replaced nearly as often.
At least 90% (the goal is to get to all) of your wardrobe should be made up of pieces that were carefully considered prior to purchase and play a major role in the overall function of your wardrobe. These should be high-quality garments that will be kept on constant rotation within your closet. Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t freak out. Just keep scrolling, grab your Smythson, and jot down a few notes. Or bookmark this page.
There will definitely be a transition period, but the best thing you can do now is embark on a fast fashion fast. Try quitting shopping fast fashion retailers for three months straight. Think you can do it?
If fast fashion dominates your closet, you’re probably used to shopping every weekend, or so, for season-specific clothing. You’ve probably developed the habit of just running out and buying something new when you get that feeling of “I have nothing to wear.” Why not? Everything’s cheap enough and if you don’t really LOVE it enough to wear it again, you can just toss it since you only paid a few bucks for it. Right?
If so, there will definitely be some withdrawal symptoms like the urge to shop and the frustration of having to get make outfits with the items already in your closet. But you know what this teaches you? Not only how to be more creative when styling yourself, but it also shows you how versatile your wardrobe currently is (or isn’t, in which case your wardrobe’s lack of cohesiveness is probably a direct symptom of your FF habit). If you find that you’re seriously struggling, then you’ll realize that you may just need to perform a complete overhaul of your wardrobe to increase the utility, versatility, and cohesiveness.
Find a selection of slow(er) retailers you dig
It’s hard at first, because it’s like once you jump into the pool of fast fashion, it becomes a bubble and you forget all about slow fashion retailers who make more socially/ethically responsible clothing/accessories. Good news is, there are more and more ethical and socially responsible brands coming out with chic, cool designs.
Finding brands/labels that you genuinely love and will be glad to support is a great first step to recovery because it will help you not miss fast fashion. I hear you, I hear you: “But ethical/sustainable brands are crazy expensive!”
Actually, there are ethical brands that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Our favorites are direct-to-consumer brands like DSTLD and Everlane. These D2C retailers cut the middleman out of the equation so they can sell their designs to you sans retail markup. This basically means if you bought the same high-quality pieces they sell at a department store you would be paying a lot more for them. This is the epitome of getting bang for your buck. You’re paying less for high-quality pieces that are made well so you will get lots of wear out of them, therefore lowering the CPW.
An easy way to tell if your clothes are ethically made is to shop clothes that are manufactured in the U.S. Avoid at all costs clothes that are manufactured in these countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. All you have to do is check the label, takes 2.5 seconds. No excuses!
Buy less, choose better
That’s a bit of Vivian Westwood’s genius and we couldn’t agree with her more. Buying nicer clothes that are made well is the only way to start consuming less. Yes, boycotting your local Forever 21 and removing your Boohoo bookmark from your iPad is a nice start, but in order to properly get yourself off fast fashion you’ve got to have high-quality replacements. Because well-made clothes cost more, you’re going to be making significantly less purchases. That means you’re going to have to become much more selective when perusing to make sure that the choices you make are the best ones for your closet.
Become a better budgeter
I feel you. You think this all sound good in theory, but how can you actually drop your fast fashion habit when slow fashion is so effing expensive? After all, the low prices are what lured us all to fast fashion in the first place.
Because fast fashion is so inexpensive, you probably aren’t used to budgeting. I mean, it’s not like a $3 tank top and a $20 pair of jeans will do much damage to your bank account situation. When you drop your FF habit, you will need to be more strategic with your shopping trips and plan out a set budget prior to heading into your go-to shops/logging into your online account.
Instead of casually/randomly popping into a store, you will need to creates lists, lists that consist of the holes/gaps in your wardrobe that are preventing your wardrobe from functioning properly. You will also need to save up and plan for shopping trips. Trust us, it’ll be fun. It’s almost like inventing mini Christmases that don’t only come around once a year!
Invest in quality basics
Since we’re not going to be focusing on having more, more, more, we will need to focus on having key pieces that will last. Start with the foundation of your wardrobe’s structure: the basics. Basics you can get away with rerunning often whereas with statement pieces, you want to spread out the wear a little more since they catch the eye. This is why it’s great to replace your current basics first with a well-selected collection; you’ll wear them the most, therefore, they’re more important to have sooner.
There is no set array of basics that every woman needs in her closet — that’s another rather clever marketing ploy. So I’m not going to suggest you must buy a certain set of pieces. What you should do is think back on what you’ve worn for the past two weeks or so and note which basic pieces came in handy the most? Which style/color/cut was the foundation to the majority of your looks. How many outfits would have been negatively impacted if certain said items weren’t in your closet?
Map out your wardrobe’s ideal structure
Next, you’ll gradually add in versatile statement pieces. Once you do the best you can do, reevaluate for any holes or gaps in the structure. Once all these are filled, you will have a complete wardrobe. From here on all you will have to do is replace items that get damaged beyond repair, lost, or worn out. Of course, you can occasionally add in a trendy piece that you just have to have or you feel expresses your style mood. You will also need to detox/revamp your wardrobe once to twice a year to make sure everything inside your closet does two things: are in line with the demands of your current lifestyle and personal aesthetic preferences.
If you’d like an in-depth, step-by-step walk-through of mapping out your wardrobe’s structure (and SO much more), jump on the pre-launch list of our upcoming training program, “New Wardrobe, 90 Days.” Join the pre-launch list here and we’ll let you know when it launches.
Part of the series
What do you think is the hardest thing about quitting fast fashion? Do you think you could do a 90-day cleanse? If you did quit fast fashion, do you think it would significantly help improve the function of your closet or help you save money since you won’t be going through so many clothes so quickly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. And don’t forget to share this post with your BFFs if you found it helpful, cool?
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