Why I want to stop buying fast fashion (and why it is so hard)
As a typical millennial, I love Zara, H&M, Forever 21 and Primark (called Penney's in Ireland, where it was created). I still turn into a little girl in Disneyland when I walk in one of those shops, and I don't often leave empty handed.
This pleasure is, however, tainted by the fact that fast fashion isn't an industry I condone, and I wish I could stop buying it. Just like we cannot pretend that we don't know the way mass farming is treating animals and destroying the planet, we can no longer say that we have no idea what the real cost of our 15 euros top is and its consequences on human, social and environmental levels. There has been quite a few reports about it and the documentary The True Cost addresses all these issues, starting with the poor working conditions highlited by the Rana Plaza disaster. It's available on Netflix - seriously, watch it, it is appalling and there is no way you won't want to change your shopping habits after that.
It's very easy to just not think about the poor worker who assembled your top, and to avoid thinking about the carbon footprint of its production. Unfortunately, more often than not, these thoughts are at the very very back of my head when I walk in a Zara.
In spite of this weakness, I can say that I have tried in the past few month to drastically reduce the amount of fast fashion I buy. Overall, I have barely shopped this year.
Before moving to Ireland, I did a massive cleaning of my closet, Marie Kondo style. I got rid of approximately 3/4 of my wardrobe, keeping only what I really wanted to wear.
I quickly noticed that this minimal wardrobe allowed me to spend a lot less time getting dressed in the morning. But in the process, I also quickly got bored of the clothes I was wearing so much, mostly the cheaper ones I owned.
My goal was simple: try and save to buy higher quality clothes, that I would be able to keep longer and that I would be happier to wear on a daily basis. I realised it doesn't matter if you are the only one noticing the quality or the comfort of an item, it always gives you this strong feeling of luxury, whether it is an ultra soft cashmere jumper or a gorgeous bra.
But the truth is, it's hard to save up for clothes and to say no to a high-street shopping day. Also, the fact that I get sick of things quite quickly doesn't help. We are surrounded by so much offer, with new collections every other day, that resisting it is a real fight, and so far I haven't been as good at it as I would have hoped.
It is really, really hard to stop buying fast fashion because fast fashion is what is offered to us primarily, it is simply everywhere. You actually need to make some research and have a strong will and commitment to really change your habit, while going to Zara and H&M is terribly quick and easy. In order for the good stuff to become as available as fast fashion, we all need a real awareness among other customers. Organic and fairtrade food are now widely available because people were buying it more and more and shops finally realised there was a real profit to be made - it's a positive circle.
As I have been trying to buy as much organic and fairtrade products as possible food wise, if I do the same with my clothes, ultimately they will become more accessible and available. I guess stopping fast fashion is a bit like with smoking: even if you eventually go back to it, the more you try to stop, the closer you get to finally succeeding.
Front image / Harper's Bazaar US