If someone asked you how many seasons there are in a year, what would you tell them? Probably four, right?
In fashion, there are 52 seasons every year.
Does this sound ridiculous? Because it should. Once upon a time there was a summer fashion season and a winter fashion season and people would update their wardrobes with the changing weather (which MAKES SENSE), but those days are long gone.
Major fast fashion retailers (Forever21, H&M, Topshop, and many others) want you to feel like you’re behind in the trends. They thrive off of our insecurity–need it, actually, to continue to see upward growth in their incredibly wasteful business. This isn’t just a confidence problem; the trend of fast fashion is bad for our personal finances, our environment, the people actually producing our clothes, and our wellbeing.
To touch quickly on each point I just mentioned:
- On average, we spend $1700 on clothes every year, but our shopping habits are fundamentally much more damaging than this. We buy a lot of stuff (clothing, knick-knacks, houseware) so we need to buy bigger homes that become storage units we don’t fully utilize (a living room AND a family room? A kitchen table AND a dining room table?). One staggering statistic from a Forbes articles (link below) says that 80 years ago a woman might own nine different outfits but now we typically own around 30. Have we really changed that much, or are we just spending more money?
- On average, we throw out 80 pounds of clothing per person, less than .5% of it is recycled, and the developing countries we “donate” them to have no use for all of the cheap, low-quality fabric we dump in their home (other than making rags that quickly get thrown away).
- Workers are grossly underpaid and overworked, child labor is rampant, and unsafe working conditions cost people their lives thanks to factory collapses (read this article to get an overview).
- Clutter is bad juju.
LONG STORY SHORT–I am going to go a year without buying a single fast fashion item. This might not sound like a radical challenge to you, beloved readers, but I am a clothing addict. I could live happily inside any Anthropologie store and the sales associates at Urban Outfitters know my name when I walk in. But, with eyes wide open, how can I keep feeding an industry that causes so much pain? I would be a hypocrite, preaching the atrocities of fast fashion with bags full of their merchandise slung over my arm.
The fine print? I can still buy clothes from secondhand stores. Buffalo Exchange is where I thrive–I have no problem spending a little extra time hunting for an armful of unique pieces that will cost me less than $60 altogether. By buying only secondhand for a year, I will be using my dollar to support these smaller stores, give used clothes a second life, and vote my ethics.
Today is March 11th. I’m not saying I’ll always shop secondhand for the rest of my life, but this year will do the environment (and my wallet) some much needed good. And if any of you feel so inclined, I would LOVE for you to take the challenge with me. Maybe I’ll upload some of my thrift store finds on my youtube channel for a little extra inspiration.
As always, I would love for you guys to do your own research and let me know what you think about it. Here are some links to get you started:
- “5 Truths the Fast Fashion Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know”
- “What Happens When Fashion Becomes Fast, Disposable, and Cheap?”
- “Fast Fashion is Creating an Environmental Crisis”
- “The Real Cost of Your Shopping Habits”
- “Three Years After a Factory Collapse Killed 1,130 Workers…”
- “The True Cost” documentary (available on Netflix)
- “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” (available on Netflix)