Anyone else here filled with the good intention of purchasing more sustainable clothing. Yet mostly it is out of your price range, and not really your style. So instead you resort to something like Depop expecting that it will be at least as affordable as the “fast fashion” you loved in the pas, considering the significantly lower prices in charity shops. Yet as you go onto the website, you cannot help noticing that some of these garments are pretty pricey. But eventually you do find something within your price range and as a bonus it’s never been worn. Yet once it arrives you notice “boohoo” printed on its label, and you think it would have probably been cheaper if you had brought it off the website in the first place…
How do we Know What’s Sustainable?
Many sustainable brands seem to have emerged in recent years, as a result of the increased awareness of it, especially among younger generations. But what exactly do they mean by this, and how do we know they are telling the truth? Sustainable, defined by Cambridge dictionary, is “using methods that do not harm the environment so that natural resources are still available in the future.” Ironically the example they provide is, “the ethical brand donates 10% of profits to support sustainable development.” Because in that case, how can we know whether a brand is actually “sustainable” itself? As an example, brand “denim”, describes itself as a “radically transparent” company, but provides very little evidence on how they carry out their practices… Here is a link if you’d like to find out more.
Furthermore there tends to be very high prices and little variety in style (tends to be minimalism). Brands like Pangaia certainly adopt this kind of style, and while we can applaud different brands on their efforts to be more sustainable, unless you happen to like that style, and have £100 at hand to spend on a plain pair of trackies, then these brands aren’t really for you. Instead it is those from wealthier backgrounds, and while I am sure that most do it because they do truly care, there certainly is a “feel good factor” also at hand. While some off the criticism surrounding the issue of fast fashion can lead toward the consumers rather than the producers, leading to those who purchase it being blamed for the ill practices of the industry, even though they don’t have any other choice.
Second Hand Clothing
So a much cheaper alternative, still effective in hindering the effects of the fast fashion industry, is buying second hand, from charity shops or second hand online “stores” like Depop or Vinted. In recent years, this has even turned into a bit of a trend! And with more sellers and buyers than ever before, this surely has to be a good thing for sustainability…
But before we continue, originally sites like depop were there to enable people on lower incomes to have access to a good range of affordable and stylish clothing. However recently, as a large number of people from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds have been drawn in, it has meant more people willing to pay more. Which eventually drags the prices up. Meanwhile this has led to a greater demand for sellers, yet many now are not just using depop to rid of their old products. Instead for many it has become a part, or even full time job. Involving hours of work of taking good photos, advertising and of course redeeming the clothing. Usually from charity bins, yet there are some sellers who instead go to the likes of boohoo.
What to Take From this
While it is important not to give up on sustainable fashion, as it is still something that is very new. Yet it is super important to understand that the industry itself is responsible for the exploitative nature of the practice, NOT the consumers. And if you do choose to buy from second hand fashion stores, as well as being wary; I would urge you to leave “essential” items, like warm jumpers, because there may be someone who really does have no other option.