On my road to mindful spending, and guarding what I bring into my life, I have become more and more picky on where my money goes.
With intentional living, there’s nowhere to hide, you have to get real with some truths. You cannot undo realities, once you have woken up to them.
I have always been drawn to bargains, and low price tags, would be the deciding factor, on where I would shop. But as I started to spend less and less time shopping, even then I had to think, that little amount I am spending, is it going to the right place?
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the world has been going through some extreme, rapid changes. Materialism is on an all time high. Global issues are brought closer to home, via smart gadgets. The world is connected, yet paradoxically disconnected. We see suffering and ignore. We see greed and celebrate it. We live in the most convenient of times, yet we are less satisfied, or content with what we have.
We want what she’s having, we see it, we buy it, we have a disposable income, which lead to disposable clothes. We purchase things, guilt free, with a few clicks of a button.
We purchase knowing that it won’t last forever, it’s just for now and that’s ok. We dream of lifestyle like the Jonses’ while the Jonses’ want be like the Jetsons’.
We research if our money is secure, on reputable sites, and no one is hacking into our money. We research reviews, upon reviews, on where to get the Best Buy’s. But how much of that research, goes into looking if the garment you’re purchasing is ethically sourced? How many of us care to know, if it’s made from sustainable materials? How many care if the brand is disposing of its waste responsibly, and not endangering marine life?
What has all of this got to do with fashion?
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is simply, fashion trends seen on the catwalk, that’s being reproduced for the high street, at a rapid pace.
We all know that fashion has trends, cycles, and seasons. Traditionally fashion industry had two seasons, spring/summer and autumn/winter where they would bring out the latest trends. Modern times however has drastically changed this, to having new trends appearing every other week! Eek!With a fast pace fashion cycle, the consumer is made to feel the urgency of the buy. With the grab it before it’s gone mentality. If you’re reputable fashionista, your lifestyle must include being first on the scene, wearing the latest trend.
Thanks to celebrity lifestyles, marketing strategies, social media influencers, bloggers and vloggers promoting hauls, the buying of excess is now the norm.
But is it really normal? What is it, that’s making us buy, without any need. We want it, we get, but do we really need it?
Quotes, memes, and videos such as you can’t have enough shoes is pumped out into social media every day! How many feet does a girl have?
It’s not harming anyone? Well you would like to think that. However, if you want to know what’s the reality, let’s go on…
True cost of fast fashion
Fast fashion is a major culprit in many global issues.
Most of these fast fashion brands, source their materials and labourers from poor developing countries, which have substandard labour laws. These countries can make their workers work extreme hours with very little pay. By doing this they keep their prices low.
We hear many devastating stories of textile workers not getting a fair wage.
Working extreme long hours, even being ‘locked in’ factories, when the demands are high and deadlines are to be met.
Most of the textile workers are women, because they are even more lowly paid than men. Many of the women have their young children with them, while they work.
Working in poor conditions, in high rise buildings, having no emergency exit, no windows, poor ventilation, packed in like sardines, need I go on?
The fires in such textile factories are many and don’t usually make international news. However in April 2013, when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, it sent out ripples throughout the world. It’s where a textile factory collapsed and 1134 lives were lost. 2000+ were injured. Due to building regulations being ignored. That was just one case.
It puts a strain on an already fragile global environment. The fast fashion industry is the second largest global pollutant after the oil industry.
As many of the companies involved are careless about their workers health conditions, they care even less, when it comes to responsibly disposing of toxic chemicals. There are stories of it being dumped into ecosystem with disregard of how it will effect the communities that surround it.
Clothes are made in surplus, to get a cheaper unit price. Brands make there items in bulk, in order to increase their margins, they achieve a low cost per item with huge orders. However it is extremely wasteful, as what ever is not sold, is disregarded/thrown away/put on sale, as the fashion trend is over.. It may end up in the sale rack. But who wants to be seen dead in last seasons clothes, that was so two weeks ago!
Fast fashion is not meant to last. You’ll be lucky if your clothing stays in tact after a few washes. It usually ends up in landfill, since it’s not even worthy of donating to anyone. When a at the landfill it takes over 200 years to decompose. I’m sure your great great great grandkids will thank you, for the mess you left them to deal with!
Tell Tale signs of Fast Fashion Brands?
Cheaply made, even at the store you can see thread coming out!
Low quality material. They don’t last very long.
Low price tag. They are usually a copy of the designer items at fraction of the price.
Frequency of New collections. How often do we pop in the shops just to see if they have something new. Because usually they do have something new and we’re the suckers who buy into it.
So what now? What can you do as a consumer when most of the high street stores seem to fit the fast fashion label.
Consumer Actionable Steps
Firstly be informed. When shopping online check out the brands ‘about’ page. Ethical brands will be transparent. They will tell you exactly what’s their mission, who made your clothes and how they are sourced.
Look for the label. Do a quick check before you buy, see where the garment was made. If you go back to your wardrobe, you may see a lot of developing countries names popping up. That’s the scale of the problem. That’s how big the margins these companies are making.
Google when shopping, do a quick search on the brand you’re interested in, if they have any scandal related to them. See what actionable steps they have made since then. Ask them what step should have they made to rectify their mistakes. Let them know you have your watchful eyes on them!
Changing your own mindset about fast fashion, as being so innocent. If you got this far, you’ll know, it’s really not.
Stop buying trendy clothes. By falling into the trend you’ll always have that problem, of wardrobe full but nothing to wear! All of your clothes will be outdated, because it’s no longer in. That’s how the brands keep you buying more, just to keep up. Be savvy and side step this trap.
Invest in your clothes. Invest in staple clothes that are good quality, that are versatile and can be used multi purpose. A white shirt will never go out of fashion. A quality pair of classic shoes, will never go out of fashion. These are your investment buys, that you should splurge on since you want them to last for many years.
Know your style, shop your style. You may see the hottest new trend, and be sucked into buying it. If you buy it you’ll be happy. But you get home, and it’s not actually you and you’re actually depressed. Don’t try and fit in, know your individuality, choose what works for you. Look back at your wardrobe, how many things has still got the label on? How many things are ill fitting?, or a sale item? or an impulse? Nine times out of ten I never wear things that I buy on a whim. Learn from those reminders, and stop falling into those sale traps.
Buy less. This is a big one. We used to buy less, before the fast fashion industry showed its ugly face, 20 years back . We can revert back to that sustainable lifestyle. Buying least is not extreme the opposite is. Choose wisely, and make it last. It’s that simple. Repair, update and upcycle the clothes that you have.
Shop vintage. Look for high quality, well looked after clothes. They stand the test of time.
Join the fashion revolution. Follow the global hashtag #whomademyclothes. Get more people talking about it, and bring about social change. You may think, what will that do. But it has already done a lot. Many companies that had their garments made in Bangladesh, came forward and signed a bill, to say that they will reform their standards in working conditions. Progress has been made but there is a lot to go.
Swap shops. If you’re getting bored with your clothes, arrange monthly swaps with family and friends, with similar styles. This at your you’ll not get bored of your clothes, you don’t add to landfill and you’ll get the buzz of a ‘new’ item, guilt free.
Stop being lazy. Research ethical brands, there are plenty, and there will be more to come when people start waking up. Bookmark those shops, that are dedicated to sustainable and ethical processes. They are who we should be investing in and celebrating, not the fast fashion industry.
Here’s the Silver lining..
All the above is to empower you and me, the consumer, and not to restrict. We can not go on being negligent, in our spending and where we spend. We can point the finger at big companies, but how do we continue to shop there keeping a blind eye.
Women are the majority when it comes to online shopping, driving 70-80% of purchasing power is female. The decisions of what is bought is female. The majority of the reviews posted on social media is by women for women. Majority of the money that comes into the economy is because women are spending. We make descions on what we buy through what we see, through our social media feeds, through YouTube, from whats trending, and reviews posted good or bad. The internet, is female! Brands know this, and so, target women more than men. If we women wise up, and use our money as our vote, we can change things.
The ball is already rolling, things have already been highlighted to bring about change. Change is what’s happening, but slowly, want to see it faster? Keep pushing and let’s all get behind it!
Photo credit from Quote fancy
Must watch videos if you’ve gotten this far!
True Cost Movie – Full on Netflix
Fast Fashion Trap
The Trap of Materialism