It’s no secret that fast fashion is harming the industry and its key players. Underpaying factory workers, cutting corners in health and safety, and not using the planet’s resources responsibly…the list of problems only seems to be growing. Luckily, there is a way to curb the problem, and all it takes is a little dedication to shopping consciously.
Hint: it’s okay (and even encouraged!) to hold brands accountable for the materials they use, how they source them, the health and working conditions of workers, fair worker compensation, and their impact on the environment.
Here are the top three things to look for when purchasing a garment:
1. Where it comes from
A big part of your identity is knowing where you come from. The same holds true for your clothes. The more closely brands (and the end consumer) are in touch with their clothes’ origins, the more responsible they can be in the production process, help the Earth, and change the industry for the better.
Transparency, and therefore, accountability are key to look for in a fashion brand. If they’re willing to openly share their sourcing, manufacturing, and supply chain practices, you’ll know more about how your clothes were made, so you can feel confident purchasing those pieces. Not to mention, you’ll feel more empowered to support the brand as a whole. It takes strength to do the right thing and lead the way in an industry full of grey areas. Reward them by giving them your business!
2. How much it costs
The price of a garment can tell you a lot — not just about its provenance, but also its likelihood of long-term use. And true, it can be tempting to purchase a $25 pair of jeans, but is that price actually appealing? Does fabric sourcing, pattern design, production, shipment from the other side of the world, and prepping a garment for the sales floor really only cost that much? The short answer is no. Chances are, corners are being cut somewhere.
When you think about the fact that companies have to mark up their product to make a healthy profit — on top of covering all of these production costs — only a tiny fraction will be awarded to the people who actually produced those pants. If the price seems too good to be true, it’s probably not a good sign that the people on the receiving end are making a fair, living wage.
3. What it’s made of
Listen to your clothes — the fabric is speaking to you, and you may not even know it! It’s in the name. Fast fashion only works if it’s “fast.” The accelerated production speed of both the garment itself and its materials means it’s probably not the best quality. Look, we know the temptation is real — to purchase inexpensive garments inspired by the latest trend you saw on TikTok — but we’d argue that spending a bit more on something that lasts makes a more important statement..
Just like people, good clothes take time to develop. With some industry giants taking garment concepts to the shelves in as little as 25 days, it’s no wonder that fast fashion items may start to break down after several washes. Most fast fashion pieces are made of synthetic, thin, and poorly-made fabrics. Swap these for more sustainable, quality materials. Hint: look for organic cottons, recycled and deadstock materials, tencel/lyocell, wool, and silk for alternatives to less sustainable materials like polyester, acrylic, conventional cottons, rayon, and nylon. What’s more, materials that are certified fairtrade or organic not only last you longer, but they also show the brand’s commitment to curbing unnecessary water waste and overuse of chemicals in the production process.
Whether the garment is poorly constructed, or the material is synthetically made, that $10 basic tee may not be worth the purchase. (Plus, a closet staple is there for a reason — to last you years of wear)!
We hope we’ve inspired you to check the tag before you check out at that register. From a product’s price, where and how it was made, andwhat it was made out of…it’s easier than you think to shop consciously.
Join us in making the industry more responsible, and the planet a better place.