10 Ways To Help Kick Your Fast Fashion Habit

Sustainable fashionistas are doing it for themselves!

While sustainability credentials are heavily marketed in the fashion industry, many insiders, including former Timberland COO, Kenneth P. Pucker, writing recently in the Harvard Business Review, says authentic sustainability is a long way off, largely on account of commercial and operational factors.

Irish fashionista, Gayle Poppers, owns the online pre-loved designer store, The Sustainable Studio, promoting circular fashion and sustainable shopping. She has advice for enjoying fashion and style with fewer social and ecological negatives.

I love fashion, I love clothing and I adore beautiful design, whether it’s furniture, fashion or art. They say fashion both reflects and leads culture. Big brands’ token fashion pieces made from recycled materials are certainly hyped by the fashion marketers; and, while this may reflect growing consumer demand for sustainable product, real evidence of an industry committed to a more ethical, less wasteful approach is sorely lacking.

And, as consumers, we bear responsibility too! The majority of our clothes have a very short life span and end up in the dump.

Recycling bins in big stores can make us feel less guilty, but they may actually encourage ever more consumption. Plus, with practically no major operators having the capacity to recycle clothing, and the environmental impact of doing so being equivalent to producing a new item anyway, most donated items still end up in landfill.

Quality organic materials are rare, and the vast majority of fashion is made from cheap, but high-performing, non-biodegradable petroleum-based synthetics. Business owners and investors want growth, whether the high-end labels or high-street brands, and much of the consumer demand is for cheap, fast fashion.

Global supply chains lead to overproduction. Seasonal launches prompt more consumption of newer items; while last season’s looks are sold off cheaply. Some big global fashion brands offer up to 24 new clothing collections each year!

Many of the major clothing brands have little awareness of, or engagement with, the factories where their actual production originates. And, despite self-promotion of pseudo-eco-credentials, there is essentially no independent verification of carbon emissions, water consumption, or of social or economic equity across clothing supply chains.

The fashion sector has been accused of more green-washing its clothes, than hand-washing!

Gayle Poppers

Sustainable Style

Before we get too over-whelmed in negativity though, like most world issues, small personal steps do make a difference if enough people take them.

Recycling, resale, rental, reuse, sharing and repair cannot be claimed as environmental life savers. But, they sure beat over-consumption and waste. And, they’re fun; mean great original looks, serious money-saving, and often better-quality fashion, including labels otherwise beyond our budget.

I originally got into designing and making my own clothes, as a necessity; money was tight. As more and more people admired my unique style and my ‘ingenious upcycling’, my wardrobe expanded to an eclectic mix of bargain designer finds, reworked good quality staples, and everyday essentials.

Vintage and pre-loved clothing and accessories may not appeal to everyone initially. But, I have seen, through my own passion for markets and charity shops, and with The Sustainable Studio, the satisfaction that people get from finding a beautiful high-end item that makes them feel good, and doesn’t cost the earth, or break the bank.

Many of us start the year resolving to get our home, life, family, spending, health or fitness in order. If over-consumption and a bulging wardrobe is part of the problem, these are the simple steps I would recommend towards a more sustainable style habit.

rail of clothes

1. Do a wardrobe edit to see what you love, don’t love, fit, don’t fit, wear or don’t wear. An honest accomplice, friend or family member, can help make the task easier.

2. Donate what you don’t like anymore at charity stores or recycling bins, including high street brands which are still in good condition.

3. Sell pieces like good quality high-end labels which still hold value; try local resale apps and e-tailers like The Sustainable Studio where you not just make some money, but avoid needless waste.

4. Make a decision to buy only preloved clothing, and household items too, if you like, for a couple of months and see the potential!

5. Choose to buy quality over quantity; invest in a couple key wardrobe staples that will last.

6. Read up on sustainability, the (fast) fashion industry, and its environmental impact, and the common sense of extending the life of our fashion choices becomes clearer.

7. Repurpose old items – get them fixed, altered, or changed into something new. A seamstress or designer can help with this, or invest in a sewing machine and have a go. For The Sustainable Studio we make unusual necklaces and earrings from vintage designer charms and buttons!

8. Get to know your own style! This is important when choosing to buy quality over quantity. Again, a stylist or a good friend can help. Fast fashion pushes trends, but knowing what suits you means you only buy what you love, and avoid potential waste in unworn clothes.

9. Know how to treat and wash your clothes correctly. Beware of bleaches and harsh detergents or spot-cleaners. Washing clothes correctly, on lower temperatures, by hand with gentle shampoo, or dry-cleaning them, means added longevity.

10. Buy clothes from small, local, sustainable brands and designers, for social, economic and environmental impact.

The Sustainable Studio online store promotes circular fashion and sustainable shopping, stocking high-end preloved clothing and accessories, such as Chanel, LV and Dior, and handmade upcycled jewellery. You can find out more here. 

By Gayle Poppers

Feature image via Pexels 

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