Written by Arabella Bradley (@arabella_luisa)
‘Fast fashion’ is a term that has been banded about a lot in recent years, probably due to the rapid emergence of online retailers such as Missguided and Prettylittlething, who are arguably some of the front-runners in the race to deliver affordable, trend-led clothing. The rise of online influencers who push fast fashion – their wardrobes seemingly full of brand new pieces – puts pressure on us as consumers to keep up with the latest trends and makes it harder to combat the problem.
Sites like Missguided have come under scrutiny, along with many high-street stores too, not only for their unethical means of production as reported by the Guardian earlier this year, but for the throw-away nature of society that these cheaper brands appeal to. I’m sure we have all found ourselves with last minute plans, and the dreaded “but I have nothing to wear!” meltdown that ensues. These retailers play on this panic-buying audience, who don’t want to spend a fortune on a dress they will only wear once. I’m definitely guilty of impulse buying from time to time, but I’m finally realising how much money I am wasting; money I won’t ever get back from selling things for pennies on eBay or Depop that haven’t even been worn.
Spending large amounts of money on clothes simply isn’t feasible for most people: young people in particular. I know that my part-time job couldn’t fund a wardrobe made up of high-end or independent brands, as much as I wish it would. Instead I’m trying to live by the phrase ‘quality not quantity’ in an attempt to refine my wardrobe. There’s no denying I like a bargain (don’t we all?) but I’m becoming increasingly conscious of the responsibility we have as consumers to slow down our consumption of clothing.
I think the way to go is to shop less, even if that means still choosing Zara or H&M; whatever fits your budget. Stop the panic-buying for nights out. Choose pieces that are not trend-led so you won’t hate them in a year’s time, pieces that fit well and are cut nicely, pieces made in fabrics that won’t disintegrate after one wash. Invest where you can, and that doesn’t mean Gucci; independent brands such as Finery have prices similar to Topshop, but the garments are of a far higher quality. Look out for online sales and discount codes for more luxury brands, that way you can justify buying high-end pieces (or at least that’s what I tell myself).
And finally: charity shopping and vintage. This is something I want to do more of. Yes, you have to rummage through a lot of crap which is off-putting, but I think the satisfaction of finding a piece that is well-made for a tiny price, makes it worth the while. Not to mention that no one else will be wearing it.
However you choose to shop for your wardrobe, maybe this post will make you think twice before you get excited by the sunshine today and buy another summer top from Topshop that will get worn once on your holiday this year, never to see the light of day again.
Artwork by Arabella Bradley