How to dress responsibly

Follow this guide to common fast fashion mistakes, explore alternatives

Sidney Anderson, Opinions Editor

Convenience and consumption. Philosophers for centuries have argued that the hub of society is turned by these two main concepts. In a way, fast fashion is the meeting of convenience and consumption, style and affordability creating a desirable industry. 

The retail world has become consumed by fast fashion in the past several years. Stores flaunt their current styles, donning their mannequins with clothes designed, manufactured, and shipped in just two weeks.  

Even though most can acknowledge the industry’s adverse effects on the environment, workers’ rights, and sustainability, fast fashion has become ingrained in our society.  It is hard to find any brand that hasn’t been involved with this waste of resources.  

According to Fashion Network, Forever 21 and H&M are some of the most successful fashion brands on social media. Fast fashion brands have become dominant so much so that as an individual earning a livable, but average wage, it seems nearly impossible to avoid big brands unethically churning out the latest fashions. However, finding alternatives is still possible.

 One main way to avoid fast fashion is to stray away from the ever-evolving  trends. Clothes that are in style this week will be out of style next week. Avoiding the newest wave of  espadrilles helps make your closet sustainable. Instead of purchasing three $15 shirts, try to invest in one quality $45 item. Investing in materials and craft will prevent the constant buying and trashing of new clothes.

According to “The Guardian”, one in three women consistently throw out garments they’ve only worn once or twice. Instead of focusing on trends, stick with the basics, clothes that will last longer. Buy things for quantity not quality. Style will follow your environmental savvy.

Another way to avoid fast fashion is to read the tags.Though it sounds simple, it can have a major impact. Becoming aware of the products in our clothes brings us one step closer to avoiding brands that are not sustainable.

According to the  Global Organic Textile Standard, avoid labels that have “environmental conscious” or “sustainable” because there is no legal action that defines these words, meaning any brand can claim to be sustainable. Instead look for the word, organic. Brands are not able to claim to be organic when they don’t meet the standard. The Global Organic Textile Standard monitors brands to make sure that the term is never used incorrectly. 

The most common way to avoid fast fashion is shopping at second hand stores. According to  “The Saturday Evening Post”, the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing yearly. Shopping at second hand stores allows for the consumer demand to go down and also keeps clothes out of landfills. 

Another plus of buying secondhand is that it is cost-efficient. Clothes that usually have significantly higher prices are now at a lower price. 

The last way to avoid fast fashion is to buy from companies that practice the concept of “slow fashion”. Slow fashion can be defined as slowing down the manufacturing process in respect to people, the environment, and animals. Some of the main slow fashion brands are Reformation, Amour Vert, Alternative Apparel, and Stella McCartney. 

Researchers have noted that simply avoiding fast fashion is not a productive or feasible alternative. Consumers being informed regarding the clothes they are purchasing is the first step towards finding slow fashion alternatives. Consumption and convenience are integral to society, however, industry and consumer must adjust to an ever-changing world.