WHY YOU SHOULD QUIT FAST FASHION…LIKE YESTERDAY
Unless you're cool with hating everything in your closet and love wasting your hard-earned money on cheap, trendy shit. | Part I of the Quit Fast Fashion Series
Okay, you scrolled past the subtitle (you’ll be thanking yourself in about five minutes) so we’re assuming you’re over the buy more, have less mentality that fast fashion forces you to commit to by default…or at least your mind is open to adopting a new mindset that doesn’t drain your bank account on useless garbage that you’re only going to have for a season or two and probably never even wear. You’re probably like us — tired of opened your closet every three months and saying to yourself, “What the eff happened to all my shit?” You’ve sacrificed lunch for a mini trip to Zara more times than you’d like to admit and you’ve thrown away or donated everything you bought a couple seasons ago because it was ill-fitting or didn’t go with anything else in your closet or not even your style.
Going into a fast fashion shop is like opening a bag of popcorn: You start off demurely picking one kernel at a time (read: slowly perusing the racks of clothes and stuff), then before you know it, you’re going for huge handfuls that don’t even fit in your mouth, lips smeared in grease, random kernels fallen in your lap (AKA: carrying a heaping armful of pieces into the fitting room, so much that you have to split up your potential buys into two trips behind the curtain due to the limited allowance).
Shopping fast fashion stores (ahem…H&M we’re giving you the side eye) can be just as addictive as binging on a salty + buttery snack because of the instant gratification factor. You peruse, you fall for pieces, you head to the register with *that* feeling making you a little swoon-ish and your plastic in your hand, ready to swipe. You don’t think about what you buy too much because if you don’t like it that much, if you’re so over it by next season, if you never even wear it, it was only ten, fifteen, okay max thirty bucks anyway.
Because of the many stores where you can get a purse or pair of jeans for the price of lunch, shopping has become nothing more than a leisure activity that we mindlessly engage in when we’re bored or in our feelings, but this doesn’t work when you want to have a closet that functions properly instead of leaving you hanging come time to get dressed and slay. One of the most common issues I hear complaints about is the struggle to create outfits. Always feeling like they have nothing to wear despite everything stuffed inside their closets. This struggle is typically from someone who often buys pieces with single-digit price tags and scrolls through the “New Arrival” pages of their favorite big box online shops during their lunch breaks. Guilty?
In the 1930s, an era responsible for spawning one of the world’s most doted style icons — Coco Chanel — the average woman owned 36 pieces in her wardrobe. That’s all! It was a time where style was about skill, not consumerism. It’s harder to achieve such wardrobe perfection now because fast fashion has taken over the entire industry. When the first shops first emerged, it was a savior. Remember? Fast fashion single-handedly made RTW looks from designer runways accessible to all of us, despite our limited budgets. When they emerged, they had one goal: take trends from the runways to popular stores on High Street, in the malls and make it accessible to everyone. And then what happened, surprisingly so? Even girls who could afford the high-end labels started mixing in select pieces from the likes of Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 because it made no sense to invest so much in trendy pieces. The fact that the rise of social media and fast fashion were pretty much parallel also plays a key factor in why we’ve become addicted to new, new, new.
But the prime benefit of fast fashion is actually the core problem: because it’s so accessible, we’ve become hooked on it and really, is it even all that helpful? Maybe in the moment to satisfy our cravings for something new and cute, but when it comes to our wardrobes, not so much. Because of the accessibility of fast fashion, we’ve come to correlate more shopping with more style. We’re in an era where we’ve become conditioned into thinking the more clothes you have, the newer what you wear is, the more stylish you’re going to look.
Your wardrobe is a system (or at least, it should be), and no system functions optimally without a solid structure. (Psst: you can learn all about how to map out the perfect wardrobe structure in our upcoming program New Wardrobe 90 Days. Join the exclusive pre-launch list here.) Mindlessly adding in impulse purchases because they’re cute and ‘cheap’ enough is not an effective strategy to build/maintain a functional wardrobe. It’s extremely counterproductive. You must curate strategically, not add in random pieces hoping it will all come together somehow. But how can you stick to strategy when everything is so cheap, so on trend, so tempting and you just want to look like the girls in your IG feed already? (BTW, you can keep up with us on IG here.)
We’re not saying you should pare your wardrobe down to a dozen pieces. But let’s embrace the concept of curating a collection of well-selected, high-quality pieces that were made to last instead of get dumped in a landfill six months from now, shall we?
Fast fashion is (actually) expensive
Not talking the price tag here; FF doesn’t cost you much when you swipe your card, but you will definitely pay for the corners these manufacturers cut later because of the poor construction/cheaper fabrics as well as the dysfunction they add to your wardrobe. One of the main excuses for sticking to fast fashion is because it’s so “affordable.” Truth? It’s a myth. Because fast-fashion is so ‘affordable’ (you know why, right? Cheap sweatshop labor) it’s super easy to get caught up and begin over consuming, not only because you intend to, but because it’s all so disposable – you wear something once/a couple times and it falls apart/shrinks in the wash and you have to go out and spend more money on a replacement.
In fact, with all the repurchasing, this kind of habit leads to you spending even more money than if you purchased select well-made, high-quality pieces from brands/labels who actually put thought and true craftsmanship into their pieces from the jump. Think about it this way: would you rather buy a pair of Forever 21 jeans every other month or save up for a stunning pair of RE/DONE or Paige denim that you’ll have forever? Do you see how the cheaper fast fashion option sneaks up and adds up over time?
You will also pay for fast fashion in stress, not just dollars. Because you’re able to buy more FF, sometimes to the point where you can buy/add to your cart without much thought because it’s so cheap, it’s almost free, you buy things you half-like/have nothing inside your closet to wear with/is ill-fitting/isn’t really your style. Not only will these kinds of purchases become a waste of closet space that comes at a premium, but also a waste of money since you won’t actually keep them on rotation and dwindle the CPW (cost-per-wear). Click here to read more on CPW.
It’s about curating, not collecting
How many times have you fantasized about converting a spare bedroom into your dream walk-in? About 3 times a day? That used to be us too, no lie, until we realized that more isn’t always better. Sometimes more is annoying af. We tend to think the more clothes, shoes, bags we have, the more outfits we’ll be able to create, the more stylish we will look, the smoother our wardrobe will function. Basically, if we have a closet the size of a luxe Fifth Avenue boutique filled to the brim, all of our deepest sartorial fantasies will come true.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’ve all heard the theory “quality over quantity,” but it’s hard to really get it. The naked truth is, the more clothes you have, the more complicated (and sometimes impossible) it is to maintain a cohesive edit of versatile clothing and accessories that all work so well together that getting dressed is virtually a no-think, no-stress process. (If you want to access to our comprehensive step-by-step guide to curating a fully functional wardrobe, sign up for our 10-day email series, #YourIdealWardrobe. It’s free + takes five secs, legit!
Remember that talk earlier about strategy? What you want to do with your closet is curate, not collect. The difference is when you collect your focus is all on consuming more. It’s less about the individual pieces and more about having a higher quantity, oftentimes despite quality, utility, you know the important stuff. On the contrary, when you curate your focus is on selectivity. You are choosing the best, only the best, while thoughtfully considering how each piece will work with your current wardrobe. You’re essentially being a snob – which is a good thing in this case. It’s your closet, after all.
The problem with fast fashion is that there is constantly new inventory, and when these retailers put out something new every 2.5 seconds, you start to feel like you need to keep up with them in order to be optimally stylish. Don’t be conned. Being a slave to fashion (you know, the multi-billion-dollar industry propelled by sales-hungry advertisers) and a victim of consumerism are completely separate from looking stylish. Having style is quite the opposite – it’s about consistency.
Hope this isn’t a surprise to you, but clothes aren’t made in some huge factories where machines spit out garments on a conveyor belt all day long. The reality is that fashion is an industry that thrives off of forced and child labor. If we want to buy stilettos at $40, dresses for $10, t-shirts at a mere five bucks, then the wages for the laborers has to be literally pennies in order for these brands/corporations to make a decent profit. These laborers work in extremely unsafe work environments in third world countries for us to dispose of this stuff after a minuscule amount of wears? Come on.
It really is disheartening, and while none of us can be perfect overnight and completely avoid these kind of brands 100% of the time, it is possible to drastically cut down on the amount by first altering your attitude about your wardrobe. Value quality over quantity. Let go of the idea that you need to constantly be shopping/adding to your wardrobe and instead focus on building a high-quality, versatile collection of clothes and accessories that are made to last season after season. Next, you can commit to shopping from fair trade retailers and shops like DSTLD and American Apparel who produce their clothes locally.
Contributing to landfills/ruining our planet
These days it seems like even breathing will contribute to depleting the planet’s resources, no? But true fact? The fashion industry is the world’s second most polluting industry. (Oil is the only industry that tops it.) That’s staggering, right?
But it does make perfect sense. Think about it – fast fashion is essentially throwaway clothing/accessories. Number one: the pieces aren’t made to last. The construction is poor, and the fabrics are not durable. Number two: these purchases are trend-centric so you don’t wear them past a season or two. By mindlessly consuming fast fashion, we’re filling already overflowing landfills and polluting the rivers with toxic chemicals.
Looking trendy isn’t everything
It’s funny (not in a haha kind of way, but in a that’s really effed up kind of way) how we’ve become conditioned into believing that the more fashionable we are, the more stylish and attractive we are to the world. Fast fashion does nothing but perpetuate the fallacy.
Every month there’s a cavalry of fashion editors all trying to convince us that we need this, we have to get that, in order to look relevant. We equate looking trendy to looking stylish, and some of us? To looking beautiful/attractive. But what’s more important to you? Looking relevant or looking your best? (Real question, BTW – drop a quick comment below about which one is more important to you/the one you consider the most when shopping/getting dressed). True, you can without a doubt look your best while appearing relevant. The point is that you shouldn’t sacrifice an ill-fitting crotch or an unflattering cut/color/design detail in order to look relevant/cool/whatever, and let’s be real: we’ve ALL done this.
What’s better than looking trendy (which basically means wearing the same thing every other girl is wearing and following the ‘rules’ made by people who are only interested in one thing: your money) is looking great. Period. Looking your best is the one look no other girl can steal; it’s unique to you. So go with that instead of conforming. If that means you incorporate a couple things that happen to be trendy at the moment, fine. Coincidences happen. But don’t be a slave to trends. They’ll not only exhaust you and drain your bank account, but they are the sign of someone who doesn’t really have style, but rather only is really good at taking cues from fashion editors/magazine/advertisers. Harsh, but true.
By the way, Tijan Serena has a great post about rediscovering her true style and refusing to let the du jour all-neutrals-everything trend dictate her sartorial choices anymore that proves you don’t have to conform to be relevant.
When you spend more, you save money
Sounds a little counterintuitive, but I promise you it’s true. The whole concept of fast fashion is to buy lots and lots of stuff that costs very little in terms of individual pieces so you can buy more, more, more. But the reality is, the purchases add up (especially when you have to constantly repurchase because something was made poorly or is too trendy, it won’t even make sense six months from now) so when you spend more per piece, you’ll end up spending less overall and buying smarter.
When things are so cheap you don’t carefully consider picking them off the rack or adding them to your virtual cart because it’s not like it’s going to dramatically change the figures of your bank account. At least not instantly. And these days where fashion is all about volume, incessantly adding to our closets, the focus is more on the instantaneous rewards of shopping, the gratification that comes along after buying something new. We’re not considering whether something will be versatile in our wardrobe, if we’re going to get a lot of wear out of a piece we add, if it’s going to be relevant a few seasons down the road, or if the construction will be durable. It’s cheap so who cares? If it shrinks in the wash or falls apart after one wear or you can figure out what to pair with a certain impulse buy…it was only the cost of lunch. Not a major financial loss.
When you consider spending more on high-quality garments, your standards are higher, and therefore you buy less crap. You contemplate the purchase of a pair of well-constructed Chelsea boots because it’s more than a dozen bucks. You consider the important stuff: how it’s going to mesh with the rest of your wardrobe, if you have enough pieces to pair them with to get a reasonable CPW, if they’re made well enough to justify the price, if their design is timeless enough to still be chic a year, or say even ten years from now.
When fast fashion really started spreading its wings and we all got addicted, the best part was that we could finally afford clothes that looked ripped straight from the runway without paying runway prices. We could get the aesthetic of top-designer clothing and still only pay the price of lunch per piece. It. Was. Life changing.
It started off with these big box store taking inspiration from the hard work of incredible designers for all the big labels. Then it got to the point where they were just churning out dupes. Legit copies of these designs. At first, it doesn’t seem that bad. We even sometimes shame these high-end/luxury brands and make them the villain for even making clothes so expensive knowing that the average consumer can’t afford them…at least not in the quantity that we want. This si of course as a result of wanting to buy new clothes every season in a desperate attempt to stay on-trend.
The problem with this is that all the hard work of these designers goes right down the drain. Imagine slaving away in a studio, pricking your fingers with needles, literally putting blood, sweat, and tears into creating a collection of RTW clothing twice a year just to see fast fashion retailers ripping off your designs almost exactly a few months later. You would be absolutely gutted, no? So if you’re a creative person, you should definitely understand how important it is to not shop from fast fashion retailers who put out copies. Yes, this means you will be spending more money on individual pieces. But at least you know the proper artist is getting your money.
And guys, we all know quality is better than quantity, right? A smaller wardrobe that is a cohesive edit of versatile, high-quality clothing that makes you feel confident and inspired every day is way better than a closet stuffed with random fast fashion bargains that will be tossed or replaced within a matter of months. P.S. If you’re really committed to building a fully functional wardrobe as described above, check out our 10-day masterclass: “Your Ideal Wardrobe”. It’s free and it’s bomb, promise.
Clothes are not meant to be disposable
What we’re forgetting is that clothes, and especially accessories, are not meant to be worn once or twice and then chucked. Yes, that is the way a lot of manufacturers are constructing their clothes so you keep coming back and consuming more, more, more. But when you think about the pumps you wore twice or the dress you tossed after one wear and how they’re piled up in some overflowing landfill after barely being used…well, not only was it a waste of money, but a waste of depleted resources and labor from someone who got paid pennies for the construction.
Convinced? Amazing! Just go here for part 2: How to (actually) quit fast fashion. We break down the exact step-by-step process to giving up your habit of incessantly consuming season-specific clothing so you can curate the wardrobe of your dreams.
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 help improve your closet? Leave a comment 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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