And So To Sustainable Style
A while ago, I found The True Cost on Netflix. If you haven't heard of it, it's a documentary about the unseen side of the fast fashion industry, and it is mega! I have first-hand experience with the impact it's had: from conversations with friends from both sides of the globe to the many videos on YouTube talking about the issues with cheap clothing, which, unfortunately, have not yet managed to drown out those of fast fashion hauls.
Personally, after watching that documentary, I wanted to do my part. It suddenly didn't feel right to go to the same set of stores that are found in every single mall anymore...but when I started to look at the prices of ethical companies, I also realised that I didn't have the budget for them. And I know it was the same for everyone I hung out with too - I still remember the talk over lunch with the people from my undergrad where the unanimous comment was "yes, it's terrible, but it's cheap".
My wardrobe has been in a constant transformation ever since, not just because of my ever-changing personal style, but also because my cheaply made clothes keep wearing out and I've had to replace some of them already. My budget still remains that of a student, so I thought I would share a couple of resources that have helped me make those changes keeping sustainability in mind and without breaking the bank. Good fashion, tick. Good price, tick. Good for the environment and humanity? Tick. What more can you want?
Depop is an app that could be described as the eBay for millennial audiences. When you open it up, it almost looks like you went on Instagram instead, except that you can buy the items on the photos directly. Clothing and accessories are the most popular category in the app, but you can also find books, old film cameras, and all kinds of bits and bobs. In my late-night browsing (a bit of a dangerous habit, let me tell you), I've discovered that most of the sellers are individuals trying to clear some wardrobe space, so you're most likely to find clothes from the high street. Still, I rest assured knowing that my money is going to an individual and that those clothes ended in a new home instead of in a landfill. And that isn't to say that it's all high street - there are some absolute gems on there. A couple of my favourite finds are a white cotton top that has served me well during this heat wave and an unbranded silk shirt that's so incredibly soft it almost feels like a fresh summer hug.
I don't really remember how I came across this side of ASOS. I just know that I was in need of a jumper that would get me through December and I happened to stumble upon a £5.00 little number from a second-hand retailer based in Manchester. The rest was history (a nicer way to say: "hours browsing every single boutique", but I digress). The Marketplace is another platform for smaller businesses to sell their stock online and most of the sellers tend to be vintage shops that already have a physical space. Here you'll find anything from cheap unbranded items to 20-year-old Burberry scarves. Clothes from the 90s tended to be the cheapest until the 90s came back into fashion big style, but you can also find some great pieces from local businesses if your budget allows for a little extra. My wish list includes the dresses (seriously, all of them) from the Vintage Style Me boutique, a British label with the most adorable cuts and fabrics.
Just...don't buy anything.
I know, I know. I write a whole post on ways to revamp your wardrobe without sacrificing money or sustainability, and then I tell you to not do any of the above but hear me out! This was actually the first step I took when I decided to change my fashion consumption.
Before I was aware of Depop or the Marketplace and with the already established vintage and charity shops not "being a thing" where I'm from, I almost felt as if I was forced to either consume fast fashion or die...although it wasn't as dramatic. So, I decided to stop my habit of going to Forever 21 once a week and instead buy clothes when - and only when - something I loved wore out.
This process taught me a few things: first, that a lot of low price tags add up and that the bright yellow plastic bags don't seem as appealing knowing that I could've put that money towards a higher-quality piece from an ethical company.
Second, I learnt to distinguish between "want" and "need". When I limited my consumption of new clothes to the bare minimum, I had to be smarter about what I actually bought, so I couldn't just go out and get popular items like - God forbid - plastic jeans if I was only going to wear them once...or even never.
And as a bonus result, I started learning things about the 10% of my closet that I actually did wear. I learnt to look at shapes, cuts, prints and colours in a new light: what I loved, what was flattering, what I loved but wasn't flattering...you get the gist. With this knowledge, I became more selective, and ended up not spending nearly as much money as I was before. Whenever I do buy something now I definitely end up getting my money's worth by wearing it again and again and again...and if all else fails, it's an excellent way to make sure you keep on top of your laundry, if the only other option is nudity.
If you were having similar issues to mine, I hope you found something useful that can help solve them. If you know of any other places where sustainable fashion doesn't come with hefty price tags, please let us know on our Facebook page!