Transitioning from fast to slow fashion and breaking the cycle of impulse buying can feel like a daunting task. You might be thinking; do I need to throw out everything I own and start from scratch? Am I going to end up spending mountains of money to slow fashion brands? Will I never be allowed to buy anything new and end up with a dull, lifeless wardrobe? The great news.. the answer is NO to all of those questions! Here's how to make the switch and some things to consider along the way..
Keep, love and care for what you already own. Of course, if something has sat in your wardrobe for a number of years without having seen the light of day it's probably time to let it go. You can donate to a local charity, give to or swap with friends and family or sell online or at local events like suitcase rummages. But for those things you love and wear regularly keep them, wear them and look after them. Even if everything you own is from a fast fashion brand, you'll find with the right care - like follow washing instructions (we know, no one reads those things, but they really are worth a squizz) & replacing zips, hems and other bits and bobs that may have popped out of place with wear as needed - you can seriously extend the lifetime of just about everything you already have. At some point though, even the best cared for pieces will come to the end of useful life and there are some things to consider when you are thinking about buying something new.
Wearability. This one kind of seems like a no-brainer but actually takes a bit of work. When you need something new, think about the context and frequency of wear. Can you wear this with what you already have? Will it be a key piece you will wear multiple times per week/month for the next few years? Or is it for a dress up party with a really obscure theme and not something you can see yourself wearing in any other context? These sorts of questions help us decide if buying new really is the best option. If you don't think you're likely to re-wear enough to justify the purchase (and how you justify it is completely up to you!) renting, if you are in a position to do so, borrowing or swapping may be a better option.
Dig deeper. When it does come time to replace something that's when it's time to do some research into what you're buying. We understand not everyone is in a position to spend money on 'investment' pieces when it comes to clothing and for many people the often lower price point of fast fashion makes it a necessity rather than a choice. However if you are in a position to do so, look at the brands you are buying from. Transparency is key. Generally, if a brand is using sustainable and ethical practices they'll show it off. If the information is hard to find or uses uncertain language like 'we aim to..' or 'we look for opportunities to...' without specific steps of how that is being done... there is probably a reason for that.
Another Person's Treasure. Secondhand selling through sites like Depop, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace & Ebay have significantly grown in popularity over the last few years. These along with your local Op Shops are treasure troves for beautiful, sometimes one-of-a-kind, pieces and are very budget friendly. Most items are lightly worn (which in some cases is better than new - hello jeans!) but you can even find brand new items that were the wrong fit or look for the seller but they aren't able to return them so sell them on at a discounted prince instead. On these platforms you can often negotiate price, especially if you are buying multiple pieces, opt for free pick up over postage or offer a swap for something you are wanting to part with.
A Place for Fast Fashion. As acknowledged, for a range of reasons, you may be in a position where fast fashion is all that is available to you either right now or all the time. If that is the case that doesn't mean you should be left out of the conversation around sustainability in fashion or unable to take action. The same considerations around buying new apply; Do you need it? Will you wear it? Are you taking care of what you've got? As seen on many many instagram posts - when it comes to sustainability, a lot of people doing it imperfectly is WAY better than a few people doing it perfectly. In the end if we are doing the best we can with what we've got, that's what matters.