When you first realise that fast fashion is toxic, both for the environment and for the people who make it, you probably scoured social media for new people to follow who could inspire you on your journey to sustainable fashion. Its not hard to find many awesome accounts who are already years into their journey, sharing their tips and tricks to be more ethical when it comes to clothes. But one thing I’ve come to realise is that there is a serious lack of people out there who are mentioning the fact that its okay to wear fast fashion.
Now I’m sure this statement comes across a little strangely on a blog all about living ethically but hear me out. I got interested in sustainable fashion probably around three or four years ago now. I have dramatically cut down the amount of clothing I purchase, and when I do make a purchase there’s a high likelihood that its second hand. But the truth is, the majority of my wardrobe is still made up of clothing that I bought new, from fast fashion brands.
I don’t think this is a bad thing. Sure, its not great that I ever supported the industry in the first place, but I did and that can’t be changed. But my point is, I’m still wearing these clothes, they still deserve a place in my wardrobe. I bought them because I like them, and I still like them, and I still wear them regularly. Today for example, I’m wearing some grey sweatpants I bought from Jack Wills quite a few years ago. I wouldn’t buy from Jack Wills today; but these were a good purchase, they have been worn probably 100’s of times over the past few years and they go with a lot of the items in my wardrobe.
I see a lot of people who are in the ethical fashion world posting about the outfits they are wearing and where they’re from; and it’s very rare that I see a post where someone states that they’re wearing clothes they’d purchased from a fast fashion brand. Now I totally understand. Those of us who have embarked on this journey towards sustainable fashion don’t want to promote fast fashion, the last thing we want to do is to encourage people to buy it.
But I really think its important that we show that we are still wearing our old fast fashion pieces. That we don’t need to get rid of everything we bought from fast fashion shops the minute we decided to go sustainable. That’s achieving the opposite of what we want.
I don’t believe that I am the only person whose wardrobe is still made up of fast fashion. So why aren’t we all sharing the fact that our fast fashion pieces are still in use?
I think we need to redefine the way that we think about clothes and fashion. We need to see our clothes for what they are, they’re items that someone has made and put a lot of time into, regardless of if they were made in ethical conditions or not. I don’t think we should love our fast fashion clothing any less, and I don’t think the people who made them would want us too either.
Often, if someone asks me where I got an item of clothing that I’m wearing, and it was from a fast fashion brand, I tend to say ‘I can’t remember’. But I think this is something I need to change. That’s the perfect opportunity to say; ‘I got it from Primark, but I don’t shop there anymore’ maybe they won’t question any further, but it might also be the perfect opportunity to introduce someone to the issues of fast fashion, and maybe alter some of their purchasing habits.
The number one piece of advice I would give to people who are switching to sustainable fashion is to learn to love the clothes you already own; as that’s the best thing you can do to help the environment. I have no doubt that encouraging people to buy second hand or from ethical brands is fantastic and something we absolutely should be doing, but becoming content with the clothes we already own is the key to sustainability in fashion.