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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.
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.
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.
Lots of your favorite style icons have resale accounts on Instagram where you can literally buy your favorite pieces from them
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Sun or moon? Which vibe are u feeling today? 🌞🌛 Both these looks and loads more vintage goodies dropping tomorrow 7pm UK time on maibee.com. And YES you heard it right – our iconic Sun & Moon chain belts will be restocked in one weeks time!! The perfect accessory for all your dreamy celestial fits ✨🌙🌞💫✨
The largest online consignment and thrift store with items up to 50% off retail price.
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Mi risa cuando me dicen que la ropa de segunda mano es fea 🤦🏽♀️ Desliza para que veas que espectáculo de vestido y desliza un chin más para que veas que celebramos hoy y cuales son algunas de las ventajas de comprar ropa de segunda mano. 👗 @thredup 📸 @girls.on.pixels #thredup #secondhandfashion #sustainablefashion #modasostenible #segundamano #usadoesmejor
Designer. Preloved. Vintage. Streetwear. Sneakers. Find your style.
Social marketplace for name brand clothing and accessories.
Pre-owned designer and luxury brands at a discount
Buy, sell, and exchange luxury and designer handbags and accessories
Authenticated luxury consignment for clothes and accessories
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:
Inclusive clothing made from up-cycled materials and shipped in recycled packaging.
Producing small, limited collections using leftover fabrics and locally sourced labor.
Made with organic and fair trade natural fibers.
Organic hemp underwear which decreases water consumption during production.
75% or more of the clothing is made from natural, rapidly renewable fibers.
French online fashion brand using sustainable materials with no overproduction or unsold items.
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.
4 – 8 day clothing rentals from over 200 designers and brands.
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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
Designer and high end fashion available for 80% discount or more.
Personalized subscription clothing box with items you can borrow and send back, or buy to keep.
Rent designer fashion to discourage impulsive shopping and reduce the environmental impact of shipping and cleaning.
Monthly subscription for unlimited access to a “shared wardrobe” for buying, swapping, or borrowing.