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Best Alternatives to Fast Fashion According to Influencers

By Editorial Staff

What is fast fashion? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, fast fashion is “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” That seems pretty straight forward: a lot of  clothes made very quickly and available for a low price. In reality, fast fashion is complicated, multi-faceted, and far more impactful.

The long chain of production that makes your basic white t-shirt is not actually that basic. There’s the issue of over production, producing large amounts of clothing at low prices which creates excessive waste and poor quality clothes in the end. The fashion industry accounts for up to 10% of total carbon emissions and uses about 1.5 trillion liters of water each year. Low prices are a direct result of underpaid and child workers in poor conditions around the globe. 

Fast fashion is inarguably detrimental and inhumane, but there are plenty of ways to shop that don’t support these clothing giants. With the rise in awareness around climate change and sustainability in the fashion industry, your favorite style influencers are also a great place to look for sustainable clothing inspiration. From 60s chic to modern summer dresses, these are the best alternatives to fast fashion according to influencers.

Fast Fashion Alternatives Infographic

1. Vintage and thrift stores

This is most likely the cheapest option and 100% sustainable. Buying second hand allows you to really hone your own style, alter items, and spend less. Purchasing an old piece of clothing means no new materials were used, no cheap labor employed, and no pollutants expelled from shipping or production. 

There are so many ways to use thrift stores for your personal style. Found something perfect? Buy and wear it. See something cute but it’s not quite right? Thrift flip. Want something entirely unique? Buy thrifted materials like bedsheets and curtains and make it yourself.

@bestdressed

pls excuse my extra modeling i was having a moment #thriftflip #thrift #upcycle #fyp

♬ sugar town – ashley / bestdressed

2. Resale apps 

Resale apps are great because you can often follow people with a similar style to you. You can buy everything from cozy basics to high end items at a discount. Once again, all options have less environmental impact regardless of their origin because you aren’t increasing input or materials used. Another great perk of these apps and websites is that you can buy or sell. Second hand fashion is a great industry in which to make some extra money from the items you already have. And since these shops operate completely online, they utilize social media for a large part of their marketing, which means you can usually find a discount code or link through an influencer somewhere.

Instagram

Lots of your favorite style icons have resale accounts on Instagram where you can literally buy your favorite pieces from them

Thredup

The largest online consignment and thrift store with items up to 50% off retail price.

Depop

Designer. Preloved. Vintage. Streetwear. Sneakers. Find your style.

Poshmark

Social marketplace for name brand clothing and accessories.

Luxury Garage Sale

Pre-owned designer and luxury brands at a discount

Rebag

Buy, sell, and exchange luxury and designer handbags and accessories

Therealreal

Authenticated luxury consignment for clothes and accessories

Etsy

Global online marketplace, including a dedicated vintage site

3. Buying New: Sustainable clothing brands

Sustainable clothing is an all encompassing term that applies to the production, working conditions, distribution, and materials used in making clothes. To be truly sustainable, the company has to check all of these boxes, not just greenwash their feed. Greenwashing is a marketing technique that promotes false or miniscule ecological aspects within a brand to sell products without making the full commitment to being sustainable in production and labor practices.

If you have the money to spend, these sustainable fashion brands are a great place to make the investment. While at first it may seem overpriced, you will soon realize this is the true cost of fair labor and sustainable materials. The prices we’re all used to from Target and Forever 21 are the product of exploitation and pollution from cheap synthetic fibers.

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Aime is one of many influencers committed to eliminating fast fashion, and here are some of the sustainable brands she recommends:

Tala

Inclusive clothing made from up-cycled materials and shipped in recycled packaging.

Nobody’s Child

Producing small, limited collections using leftover fabrics and locally sourced labor.

Pact

Made with organic and fair trade natural fibers.

Wama

Organic hemp underwear which decreases water consumption during production.

Reformation

75% or more of the clothing is made from natural, rapidly renewable fibers.

Sézane

French online fashion brand using sustainable materials with no overproduction or unsold items.

4. Rent

This new craze of renting clothe is great for luxury brands and more single wear items like parties or weddings. It’s not your best option given the transportation and dry cleaning process. Transportation is now the biggest source of CO2 emissions in the United States, meaning the skirt you rented for a date night might end up creating the same net carbon emission as a fast fashion purchase.

While it’s certainly not ideal, renting items you would normally never purchase, or buy and then shove in the back of your closet, is a great way to become more conscious of your spending and overall impact in the fashion industry. Plus, who wouldn’t want to feel like Carrie Bradshaw every once in a while? Minus the $400,000 shoe shaped cavity in your bank account.

Hurr

4 – 8 day clothing rentals from over 200 designers and brands.

View this post on Instagram

Here’s a little taster of when I took my work wife and co-host of @mixedup.podcast @nicoleocran second hand shopping with a twist. We went to try out the fashion rental offering available @hurr @theofficialselfridges just before lock down. Watch us try on a bunch of fabulous dresses. It’s a joyful distraction. ✨ . Video by the talented @xantheb . . . . #consciouslifestyle #consciousliving #sustainablefashionblogger #summerdresses #fashionrental #greenfashion #ecostyle #rentals #wonderlust #reusereducerecycle #rewearwithflair #reweardontcare #responsiblefashion #outfitrepeater #secondhandclothes #secondhandstyle #ethicalfashioninfluencer #thriftfinds #hurrgirls #projectearth #selfridgeslondon #blackgirljoy

A post shared by Emma Slade Edmondson (@emsladedmondson) on

Rent the runway

Designer and high end fashion available for 80% discount or more.

Le tote

Personalized subscription clothing box with items you can borrow and send back, or buy to keep.

My Wardrobe HQ

Rent designer fashion to discourage impulsive shopping and reduce the environmental impact of shipping and cleaning.

Nuw

Monthly subscription for unlimited access to a “shared wardrobe” for buying, swapping, or borrowing.

This article was written by Christiana Sinacola

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