Have you ever walked into a store and bought something you knew you didn’t need? I’m sure the answer is yes. If I were to take a look inside my wardrobe I always seem to find pieces I forgot I even had. Does this change my mindset about consuming? Unfortunately, no.
The market for fast-fashion is growing every year. On a global scale, we consume more clothes than ever before. As we keep consuming cheap items the market for fast-fashion is continuously growing at a rapid rate, but at the expense of the environment. Did you know that 85 % of all textiles goes to the dump every year? And still we buy new clothes that are manufactured under poor working conditions that harms the environment, just to make us feel good about ourselves as we can wear a new blouse out on Saturday night.
Maybe we don’t want to admit it, but one of the main reasons why we consume fast-fashion is because we think more about our ego than anything else. Maybe we don’t want to admit it, but I think we are all well aware of the most common reason why we consume fast fashion; we are egocentric. “I have nothing to wear”, while staring into the closet full of clothes. Sounds familiar? I am sure I am not the only one that bought a new dress for a “sittning” or a night out. “What if someone remembers that I wore the same outfit last time?”. Or recognize my dress from a picture? Yes, that would be a disaster.
However, that is of course not the only reason why we keep consuming fast-fashion. The reason behind our need to buy new clothing items are driven by desires linked to pleasure and excitement. When we buy something new we feel an excitement, an adrenalin rush going through our bodies. We all know the pleasure of ripping the price tag off a new item and the eagerness that follows it. The pleasure of wearing something new is much bigger than the pleasure of wearing a garment that we have already worn a few times. Behind every purchase decision we make, there are also emotional desires. The clothes we buy are driven by fantasy, excitement and aspirations of living a better and more fulfilling life. But does our life become better just by purchasing a new blouse?
Nowadays we rarely buy clothes out of need, but rather as an action of desire, as we are constantly stimulated with various marketing and an increasing buying pressure. We buy clothes that are so cheap that we don’t feel bad if we only use them a few times, sometimes not even that. As the low price could “justify” our minor usage.
How Can We Change Fashion Consumption?
First of all, we must realize that we don’t need more clothing than the ones we wear. I bet you already forgot about the top you bought on sale last Christmas. Maybe it still has the price tag left? It wouldn’t surprise me. Secondly, there’s plenty of other ways to consume fashion than buying something on sale or at a low budget chain; such as vintage shopping, clothing swaps with friends and acquaintances, sew or pimp up garments you already have, and so on.
The first step to change the way we consume fast-fashion is to acquire a more sustainable consumption pattern and become more aware of your own buying behavior. How often do you buy new clothes? Why do you buy them? And do you usually buy something you really need or is it spontaneous purchases that you make? The second step is to get informed about the brands and stores you buy from. What sort of materials do they use, how are their working conditions and do they work towards a more sustainable fashion industry? How sustainable are they versus other similar brands?
After thinking about these things, you may realize that your consumption habits need to change. If not, congratulations and applause to you! However, to those of you who feel guilty about your consumption, I am not saying that you shouldn’t consume at all. But there are other (and more sustainable) ways to do it. Second hand is a great place to begin your journey towards a more guilt-free consumption and a greener world. As well as being able to do some great deals, there is also something rather chic about vintage products. Some of my favorite sites to shop second hand clothes are Sellpy, Tise and Plick. And if you want to treat yourself with something more expensive, I recommend Vestiaire Collective.
There’s a lot of things we can do to make the fashion industry more sustainable. My main tip is to be informed about the companies you buy from and give second hand a second chance! One can’t do everything but everyone can do something. Let us save the planet and consume smarter fashion with a clear conscience!