Shopping is a time-consuming adventure that many gladly take part in. Confessedly, I was no different. I loved the thrill of going into stores, hearing their relaxing music, and seeing the bright new trends on the shelves. Whether I was shopping to take my mind off a problem or to just window shop, none of it was sustainable. I was picking out pieces that I would soon forget about. I just didn’t know it yet. And how could I? When you’re shopping, sometimes it can feel like you really need that super cute blouse. You can’t wait to wear it to work or out to brunch with your friends. And I was just the same. But after a while, I started growing weary of the superficial feel of it all. I had countless tops, pants, shoes, and bags that I no longer was excited to wear. No longer do I take an amiable stroll throughout the shops, eyeing the mannequins, shoes, and accessories. Because now when I approach the stores, I have a solid plan in mind.
The Focus of Fast Fashion
Everywhere you look, whether it’s on social media or the magazines at the grocery store, you’ll see ads. The main thing these ads are doing is busy pressuring us to look better by paying more money. Fashion is one of the worst culprits. You’d think that four seasons is plenty, but you’d be wrong! The thing about fast fashion giants such as Forever 21, Topshop, and Zara is that they are constantly adding new shipments and styles into their stores. Fast fashion is all about making the consumer feel like they’re suddenly off-trend even though they just had a massive haul a week ago. With new trends and styles continuously flooding in, it lends that “must have it” feeling to shoppers who didn’t even know they needed it, much less wanted it.
But it’s fine to splurge every once in awhile, right? Because it’s not like you’re always stocking up on pricey jeans and jackets. Surely there can’t be much harm in grabbing a $10 hoodie. However, a big problem of the inexpensive clothing is that it’s cheap. Not just cheaply priced but cheaply produced. With big stores like H&M, they have outsourced their work to massive factories. The factory workers put in many long hours in order to put together clothing to be shipped back to the stores. These workers are underpaid and not taken care of properly during their shifts. It’s also very cheap to order clothing in bulk from these factories. Large, popular brands like H&M can even get away with reselling items for a fractionally higher cost than manufacturing. For smaller brands, they’d never make enough profit if that’s how they operated. But for big brands, they drop the prices to entice shoppers to give in and buy a nicely priced blouse or a pair of pants. And because millions of people shop at these brands, the fashion industry is raking in the cash. It’s a dark picture to think about. The good news is that many indie fashion labels are beginning to burst into the scene. Lots of people like a good DIY project or knowing someone handmade something. There are definitely ways that you can buy beautiful, reliable clothing that will stand the test of time while even remaining stylish.
The Simple Guide To Sustainable Shopping
So now I want to break something down for you. It’s something I’ve been compiling over the last several months. I want to share my sustainable shopping tips and tricks.
#1: Avoid Shopping
Perhaps this is the most obvious tip. However, if you take a day to reevaluate your wardrobe, you could be surprised. Document what you have. Try to work with it. But let’s be serious, we can’t avoid shopping forever…
#2: Limit Your Shopping Trips
Okay. So you’ve got to grab a pair of jeans because the ones you have are just a bit too snug. That’s fine. Hold onto that. When you go out to shop, shop with intention. Don’t go for one thing and end up coming home with multiple bags. And when you do shop, shop for quality over quantity. Seek out brands that have sturdy clothing. Try to stay away from the fleeting fads. If you invest in a nice pair of jeans for $150 that will last you, it’s going to be a lot better in the long run than if you had snagged a pair for $15.
#3: Seek Out Consignment Shops
If you’re not willing to give up shopping so easily, there are always solutions. Rather than heading to outlets or shops, try consignment stores. There are many different sorts. From local consignment stores with specifically chosen consigned pieces to polished online storefronts with practically new pieces for a fraction of the price. A couple of the more upscale consignment shops are ThredUp and TheRealReal. They specifically carry luxury brand clothing. That means no poorly-created clothing for cheap prices.
Some of my second-hand finds:
#4: Turn To Eco-Friendly Brands
It’s time for the next step. Like I mentioned before, there are people and companies out there who strive to bring their own handmade and ethically made goods into the world. They’re created with care. You just have to find them. From awesome fun printed slip-ons by Inkkas to iconic white shirts by Anne Fontaine and more. There are countless indie fashion labels out there. You just have to find the time to locate the ones you love. Fashion labels which bring sustainability, elegance, and minimalism into their very designs are drawing in clients who are hungry to veer away from fast fashion.
#5: Begin Avoiding Fast Fashion Destinations
Starting out, you may find that eco-friendly fashion designers may not have what you were expecting. If you’ve checked out dozens of indie labels and still are struggling finding a classy pair of heels or the perfect clutch, don’t give up. Rather take a step away and use the last resort: fast fashion. For the reasons I talked about before, fast fashion is not the best mode of action. But sometimes, we don’t really have another choice. Heading to your nearest shopping center can work just fine. You just might end up finding a classic blouse that you can wear again and again. Not all fast fashion is poor fashion (or even style). And it definitely will do the trick in a pinch. However, if you want to seek out sustainable fashion at places like Zara or Topshop, go for it. There isn’t anything wrong in using major fashion labels as a backup plan or a minor substitute. Just don’t let it be your first choice and avoid the obvious fads that will be gone in a month’s time. There are so many other hardworking individuals who deserve your money and are willing to trade their sustainable products for it.
That’s pretty much how I like to shop sustainably! What do you think? How would you choose to incorporate sustainability into your shopping?
Nadia Karpov is a founder of Happymalista blog where she documents her journey towards minimalist life style. As a slow fashion enthusiast, she constantly explores the subject and shares everything she learns along the way. You will find simple style, beauty, sustainable shopping, and travel tips on her blog.