Why I’m Quitting Fast Fashion

I’ve thinking about quitting fast fashion for a while, but that shit requires commitment. Sometimes you just need a kick in the face, and I finally got it.

Back in summer, I needed a white dress. I found a white dress. (NOTE: I didn’t buy it from the site listed. I got it from Hudson’s Bay.) Regular price, it was $69.99 CDN, but it was on sale for $27.99. When it arrived? Well, let me show you this cheap piece of garbage:

Collage featuring pictures of a poorly-made white dress. Focuses on loose threads, bad stitching, quick production.

It was also too small. I wanted to buy a Large but they were sold out, so I settled for a Medium because I knew I’d fit into it eventually. While I’ve been steadily losing all my pregnancy weight, I still couldn’t pull this thing over my chest. Why? BECAUSE THERE IS NO ZIPPER. THIS DRESS IS MADE OF NON-STRETCHY FABRIC AND IT DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A BLOODY SIDE ZIPPER TO MAKE IT EASY TO PUT ON.

This dress was easily the trigger. I’m pulling it. I’m quitting fast fashion for real this time.

What Is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is essentially a business model wherein brand names like Zara, H&M, ASOS, Topshop, (and Dex, which made my shitty garbage no-zipper dress), mass-produce trendy clothing on a quick time frame.

Fast fashion produces clothing with cheap fabrics. They’re sold on the cheap (and also not-so-cheap) to customers who wear it in the short time-span while the clothing (the design of which is based on current runway trends) is trendy.

Think of that velvet jumpsuit that you can see your underwear through when you bend over. Or that jungle print blazer with no lining. Or that jacket that Melania Trump wore. So you buy it and wear it. Then you toss it into that diabetes donation bin. Then it’s sent to some third-world country where nobody buys it and it gets tossed in this massive pile of garbage clothes that kids get to use as a “playground” full of mud and mold and disease because all the fabric is made of polyester and won’t biodegrade.

This documentary on Netflix is a great place to start your rage:

Quitting Fast Fashion Is HARD

Last year I bought this amazing green blazer for $39.99.

The blazer came in green AND pink and I wanted both but I settled for the green. I wore the green blazer. People complimented me. I came up with all sorts of new outfit ideas. I found a new style. I could pull off blazers, people!

Then I went back and bought the pink blazer.

The next week, the same blazer arrived in the store in blue. I also bought some more tops to match my three lovely blazers. I do still wear them, but now I’m addicted.

The next year, I found a violet blazer.

Yes, I bought the stupid thing.

A red one also arrived but I was like, YOU NEED TO STOP THIS. YOU CAN’T BUY IT.

I didn’t buy it but I really really really regret not buying it, despite the fact that I probably wouldn’t have worn it much because I’m not the biggest fan of red. I really just wanted to “RepliKate” (it’s a thing) this Kate Middleton look.

Clothing addiction is all about dream aesthetics. I’ve got a ton of clothes, but then I’ll see a new outfit or a new brand or a new Kate Middleton picture and the waves part like the Red Sea and I walk through toward a new identity. A NEW ME. And dang, if that feeling isn’t addictive AF.

Sometimes I’ll get the item in the mail and I’ll love it. People will compliment me. And then, well, I go out and try to replicate that feeling with another new piece of clothing. It’s a cycle. It’s never-ending. And that’s the trap that plenty of us fall into.

Don’t feel bad. It’s the way we’re programmed and capitalism has found out how to manipulate us to consume products at ridiculous rates, churning out shitty velvet dresses after shitty suede culottes after shitty crochet crop tops.

Resources for Quitting Fast Fashion

YouTube has plenty of resources for a quick education in fast fashion. I’ve gravitated toward fashion designer Justine Leconte’s videos. Her channel is full of practical fashion goodness, and she does have a #FASHIONTALK playlist wherein she speaks mostly about the fast fashion industry and how to quit giving into it. She also has a playlist on finding quality clothing that I’ve found very useful. Here’s one video from that playlist on how to tell which clothes are “fast fashion” while you’re shopping:

I’ve also been browsing goodonyou.eco, which is a website all about sustainable and ethical fashion. They have a mobile app as well, which has proven to be a great resource for me. Plug all your favourite brands into the app and you’ll have a clear picture of their practices on a 1-5 scale based on Labour, Environment, and Animal Rights.

Some brand ratings were obvious to me. Others I was surprised by. One in particular is my favourite handbag brand, Matt & Nat, which prides itself on its “vegan leather” (for fuck’s sake, just call it what it is: PLEATHER.) While regularly perceived as a brand that’s “good”, it really only succeeds on Animal Rights. While the official Mat & Nat site says a lot of pretty things about their “Ethics and Sustainability”, the Good On You assessment is pretty thorough about the things Matt & Nat isn’t being transparent about. So yeah, probably not gonna be buying from them in the future.

Screenshot of Good For You's assessment of Matt & Nat.
A screenshot of the Good On You app.

The only downside I’ve found with this app has been its lack of indie brands, specifically retro ones. I love Hell Bunny, Collectif, Sugarhill Brighton, Sourpuss, etc. I’m hoping at some point that Good On You will address the brands in the retro reproduction community. It’s my main shopping destination and I’d love to make more informed shopping decisions when it comes to their ethical standards.

My Plan for Quitting Fast Fashion

Recreate Styles

I follow a lot of brands on Instagram. I have a tough time scrolling past a new clothing collection post without checking the site for all the pieces. Recently, I discovered Sister Jane, the most whimsical brand with the most amazing dresses. I wanted to buy everything, and I did end up buying this amazing cornflower blue dress for my collection.

Their pieces are pricey but they’re still made in China, and the brand only has 1/5 stars on Good On You. The next time I spend $170 on a dress, it’s gonna be on a more ethically-produced one. So while I love their aesthetic, I know that I can recreate the “Sister Jane look” with clothes in my own wardrobe. Here’s one I recently put together for church:

Save Purchases for Quality Timeless Pieces

Of course, in my desire to stop buying clothes, I found new places to buy new clothes. I like People Tree and House of Foxy and Christy Dawn. Haven’t bought anything yet but when I do have a couple hundred bucks lying around for a nice wardrobe staple, I know where I’ll be headed.

Buy Vintage

I’ve recently delved into this pool of goodness. During the summer, I went to a Guts Club popup in Kamloops and scored some really pretty dresses. Since following the Guts Club Instagram account I’ve been flooded with sponsored ads that I actually want to click on (and follow!). Some shops I really like and have already purchased from are Curious Jane Vintage, Wildways Vintage and Clothesline Vintage. (All are Canadian vintage shops, as I try to shop local for cheaper shipping.)

Granted, when buying vintage, you’re paying a lot for an old piece of clothing, but one thing I LOVE about vintage boutiques is that it’s all curated, which means that you know exactly what you’re getting. Each shop has its own aesthetic, be it rustic or retro or romantic. No digging through racks! You’re paying for the curation and also supporting a small business to boot. #ladiessupportingladies

Make My Own Clothes

I’ve always wanted to do this. I have a sewing machine. I sort of have the skills. I’ve made the odd piece of clothing before but honestly, I just can’t commit to the time it takes to do it right. Writing takes up too much of my hobby time and I don’t have a lot of hobby time to sacrifice these days.

Still, making my own clothes is a dream that I will always have, and maybe when my kids are older I can properly devote a day or two to make myself a kickass vintage dress. A woman can still dream.

Take the Challenge!

I’m gonna do my best with quitting fast fashion. I like to think that I’ll be saving myself money, and I haven’t taken to buying myself any new clothes since I started writing this blog in the middle of summer. I have, however, definitely found myself headed back to the thrift stores a lot. I’ve also spend far too much of my time browsing vintage shops and sustainable boutiques online, but I guess my heart is in the right place.

What about you? Were you aware of the effects of fast fashion? Have you ever thought about where your clothes are made? Like me, have you found it difficult to quit fast fashion? And lastly, will you join me in my quest to stop buying cheap shitty garbage clothes?