I like so many other people had this thrill of going into town and walking into shops with an overwhelming feeling of excitement about the prospect of finding something new. I would hand over my cash and in return get to take away my new prized possessions in a bag that would show the world I was the proud owner of 'newness'. But now the prospect of heading to the high street for my clothes has my stomach turning but in a different way...
Fashion Revolution Campaign Poster
I don’t think I understood the real effects of fashion fashion until more recently and especially after working in high street retail myself. I used to buy secondhand clothing as it was the only way I could afford the brands I read about or saw on social media, but this changed when I become more aware of the effects. According to Unearthed, the UK “is the epicentre of fast fashion in Europe” with people buying “an estimated 26.7kg of clothing every year”, they compare this amount of consumption with that of another type of “single use product”. I now find it hard not to see these figures when I stare at a polyester blend top on a hanger. The newness still makes me feel excited, but the prospect of adding to our ever growing climate change much succeeds this excitement and instead fills me with a real sense of dread.
Infographic: Ellen Macarthur Foundation
Fast fashion is pushed to us from all angles, from billboards on are way to work to the adverts in between our favourite shows on the TV. From the influencers displaying their #ad hauls to the banners appearing on our screens luring us through clickbait. Everywhere we go we can't escape thinking about fast fashion and its no wonder we consume so much of it. Author of How to Break Up with Fast Fashion, Lauren Bravo puts it so perfectly when explaining this relationship, she writes that “newness is everything”, she goes onto say that “the pursuit of the new is human instinct”. And that feels so on point, it really is hard to push past that urge we have for anything new. It is a difficult prospect to try and persuade millions of people that they should drop their normal spending habits to take on this 'slow fashion' challenge and give up there excitement over getting something 'new'. Well... all we can do is try and encourage change and showcase the facts that are very much real and that we are witness to everyday. The rise in boutique charity shops such as Boutique by Shelter and Mary's Living and Giving shops are paving the way in creating more of a shopping experience that is comparable to that of the high street. This combined with the growing numbers of rental services available to us (My Wardrobe HQ) and more online platforms to sell and buy secondhand clothing than ever (Depop, ASOS Marketplace and Vestiaire Collective) it is becoming easier to make a gradual switch to shop sustainably.
My own personal relationship with fast fashion changed dramatically over the last six months. And a huge part of that was down to the fact that I was working in it. I was on the frontline, witnessing first hand how consumerism can completely control us. I saw people everyday buying clothes they didn't need, made of materials that would add to our climate crisis and spending money they might not have. It created quite a toxic environment in my own head. I saw the constant amount of stock that would come into the store daily and the overwhelming waste that was produced. I began to realise that I was part of the problem. I was working for them, helping them make money and sell clothes that would then add to the billions of tonnes of CO2 in our atmosphere.
So I have decided to make a conscious change and a new pledge to myself on the way I shop for my clothes. I will no longer purchase anything that constitutes as 'fast fashion' and instead strive to shop sustainably whether that be through the concept of #choosewellbuyless or buying secondhand clothes from charity shops or online platforms like eBay and Depop.
Will you join me in my pledge to shop sustainably and change your relationship with fast fashion?
Let me know in the comments below.