I went to listen to a talk about sustainable and “slow” fashion. The talk was hosted by a high-quality fashion brand and it had Finnish public figures, university lecturers and entrepreneurs talking about the issues of fashion industry that are a real threat to our world. I’ve become more and more aware of the evil nature of fast fashion, so the talk didn’t really have a huge impact on me. Nothing that I hadn’t heard before. But when an audience member raised a hand and asked what could consumers do to help and have an affect on things with their every day decisions, there was a long silence. A person on the stage finally said that people should only buy expensive things and other one said that someone should write a book about these things because he couldn’t sum up his thoughts into a real advice. It is a complicated question I admit, but the answers could have been better. The question is also an important one, as I do believe small things can have an impact.
I got a bit anxious about fashion industry after the talk, had a rant about it to my boyfriend, and then decided to share some of my own every day decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to shame anyone or preach about these things, but I just hope that these ideas might inspire someone. So here they are:
5 Simple Rules of Buying New Clothes and Getting Rid of the Old
- When you are in a store and thinking about buying something, ask the salesperson who made the product. Who, where, in what kind of conditions. If the person can’t give any kind of story behind it, walk away. Good quality clothing should always have a transparent manufacturing line, that shouldn’t be difficult to talk about. Of course, this is not the case in most of the clothing stores these days. But at least you are able to define which companies are not trustworthy. You can also do research on a company in internet before shopping in there, but it becomes a very time consuming activity and you might be left without answers if the company has managed to hide all the information from consumers.
- Buy second-hand or vintage. Seriously. I know I would much rather have an authentic 70’s skirt than buy one from a retail store. The products made during or before the 90’s have usually much higher quality than anything you can buy from high street these days. I personally think that owning a piece of clothing that has a story is much more exciting than just getting new stuff. It might take a lot more work to find exactly what you’re looking for from vintage stores, but it’s worth it. Also, recycling or donating your own old clothes when you don’t want them anymore is a great thing to do (you might earn some money as well, wohoo!).
- If buying old stuff is “icky” to you, why not upcycle? There are companies that either work with pre-consumer waste (“extra” material from factories, that would be thrown away otherwise) or post-consumer waste (clothing that has been used, but is not wanted anymore) to create something new. These kind of companies are usually small and therefore the design work and manufacturing costs don’t come close to Primark prices, but quality is high. If you are talented with the sewing machine, you can also create something on your own from your old clothes or flea market findings. Little changes can make a huge difference!
- Maintenance! Take care of your clothing, even if you bought it with a cheap price from H&M sales. If there’s tuft on your clothes, you can buy a handy little machine from Clas Ohlson for instance, that will get rid of it, so there’s no need for a new sweater. There’s a little rip on your shirt or button missing? If you don’t have any previous experience with fixing things like that, Internet and Pinterest will offer you nice little tips. But if fixing things yourself is too time consuming or you just don’t want to do it, take it to a professional. A seamstress will fix it, and it’s not even as expensive as people often tend to think. You’ll save time and probably money from finding yourself a new pair of jeans to replace the ones that have a broken zipper. You can also take your old favorite clothes, that for some reason don’t feel right anymore, to a professional and have them match your current taste. Tadaa, you have a new piece that fits you a like a clove!
- Buy high quality stuff. Yes, almost the same thing as the person on the stage said. But high price doesn’t always guarantee high quality. Taking time to think what you actually need is important. I’m guilty of buying pieces that I’ve never worn after the fitting room, and I guess it’s not completely bad to have those crazy pieces that can only be worn in a costume party in your closet, you know, just in case. But I’ve heard people refer to shopping as their hobby for they tend to go and “shop ’til they drop” without thinking of the life-line of the products they bring home. Not cool. As a teenager, you are allowed to search for your style and try many things, but at some point you need to figure out who you are, style wise, and stop making the irrational shopping choices. Take a look at your closet and moderate what is in there. What you actually want to wear, what you feel good in. Hire a stylist, if this feels difficult otherwise. This way, you can actually go and buy things from more expensive, high quality stores, because you know your style and you can give the product a decent go. Instead of buying three different autumn coats from cheap stores because you can’t decide which one you like the best, learn your style and buy only one coat that will last for at least 5 years.
Thank you for reading through my list! If you have any ideas about the matter, I’d love to hear them in the comments!