As you’ve probably heard by now, April is known as Earth Month because of Earth Day. But I consider April to also be Fashion Revolution Month because Fashion Revolution Week happens.
In response to the Rana Plaza Collapse that occurred on April 24th, 2013 that killed 1,300 + garment workers, Fashion Revolution was created to address the negative impacts the fast-fashion industry has on the planet in people.
Though Fashion Revolution operates year-round, they created a week in the last week of April to make us ask the question “Who Made My Clothes?” and create discussion around the fast-fashion industry.
In honor of that, I had created an event called “Who Made Your Clothes?” where I held a True Cost film screening and Ethical Fashion Workshop. The response afterwards and the actions that they have already taken has been giving me hope that change is possible.
In the workshop that followed after the film, I had included my 5 Steps to Quit Fast-Fashion. I created these steps thinking of how I would best describe this to my past-self hearing about ethical fashion for the first time.
So if you’re new to this, I hope you find this helpful, judgmental , and honest. And if you’re already passionate about ethical fashion, I hope this can be used as a helpful tool to guide others.
Here are my 5 Steps to Quit Fast-Fashion:
1.Do Your Research
Doing your research is vital to quitting fast-fashion because it creates a foundation for what you stand for. It’s one thing to vaguely hear about what people say about fast-fashion, but finding credible resources really solidify the claims you hear. A few dependable and informative resources include:
2. Go on an Unfollow Spree
This is not to necessarily boycott Fast-fashion brands (which is another conversation in itself), but by doing this you are able to rid of the temptation it poses.
As a marketing grad myself, I understand the power marketing has on us. When I was trying to quit fashion in my shopping ban, one of the first things I did was:
Unsubscribe from fast-fashion brands
Unfollow from fast-fashion instagrams
and even unfollow bloggers/influencers that were heavily pushing fast-fashion brands to their followers
I highly doubt that my little unsubscription/unfollow really affected them, but I immediately felt the weight of temptation melt off me. I had a clearer head about what I actually liked, needed, and how many pieces I actually wanted to include in my wardrobe.
3. Go on a Follow Spree
Once you get rid of those negative influence it’s critical to fill it with positive ones, because if you don’t you run the risk of falling back into old habits.
Also finding new sustainable influences allows you to create a new community, both digitally and IRL, that will support, encourage, and inspire you on your journey to quit-fast fashion. Some influences I would recommend are:
4. Follow the ‘Buyerarchy of Needs’
I actually collaborated with Elena Taber about a year ago demonstrating this model, “How to Start Dressing More Sustainably”.
But basically this model is based off Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where the base of the pyramid represent behaviors that are most important and are done at higher frequencies, and lessen as you move towards the top of the pyramid.
One of the biggest complaints I have heard about people leaving fast-fashion is that “Ethical-Fashion is so expensive”. Which is very true. But we have to understand that we cannot approach ethical fashion we did with fast-fashion. The whole point of ethical fashion is to slow down how much we consume and to purchase well.
That’s why I beleive the “Buyerarchy” of Needs is a great resource as to how we should approach our wardrobe, and is understood as follows:
Use What you have
This basically means to love your wardrobe. But if you have fallen out of love with it, use the 3 R’s:
Restyle - Think pieces as “yearly” instead of “seasonally”
Repair - Give ruined pieces new life by getting them fixed. ex. Patching up old jeans
‘Recycle’ - Aka. Diy and upcycle pieces before donating.
This is always easier when you have roommates. But borrowing is great especially when you want to try a new trendy style that a friend has or for have a one-time event, ex. borrrowing a dress for a wedding you’re attending. It’s fun and free ;-)
This can be done one-on-one style, but I personally love doing clothing swap parties instead. It’s a great excuse to connect with community and refresh your wardrobe!
This is probably my favorite portion of the pyramid. And although there’s controversy about where are donated clothes actually end up, purchasing second-hand does help reduce our usage of valuable resources, diverting pieces in ending up in landfills, and contributing to our local economies and charities.
The biggest pro of making your clothing is that you obviously know who made your clothes. But what makes this 5th on the pyramid is that you want to use what has already been made instead of using new resources. So of course it becomes even more sustainable when you upcycle textiles into new pieces.
Like I said before, this is the last step we take when approaching our wardrobe. So when we come to the conclusion of buying you should:
Save - Because you buy less frequently, you’re able to actually save up and invest in a piece. And though is might hurt to buy a $75 shirt as opposed to a $15 shirt, you actually save money in the long run. You will most likely purchase more because you’ll think less about all the $15 shirts that you purchase and buy more than you actually wanted/needed. And I love that companies began doing Afterpay to make bigger purchases a bit easier.
Consider - And since you are able to save up, you can take the time to consider: “Who made these pieces?” “Where are these fibers sourced from?” “What impact does this have on the environment?” etc. Questions like this aid you to make more quality and ethical purchases, and remind you the true cost going into your new piece.
Think Longterm - If you don’t think about how a piece fits into your wardrobe longterm, you end up negating the other two components of buying. New pieces should be taken with great care and as the valuable resource it is. And as it becomes apart of your wardrobe use the “Buyerarchy of Needs” over, and over again :-)
5. Give yourself and others grace
To me, this is the most important step.
This is something I have only been learning for myself in the past year or so, and I believe we need to incorporate this more into the ethical fashion community because:
Failures and mistakes are natural when pursuing a journey or new skill:
Giving ourselves and others grace is the only way we can try anything new. If you were learning a new instrument, you wouldn’t be upset if you were perfect at it the nest day, or even if you’re considered to be an expert that you get to stop learning, or be hateful towards someone else who is learning because you would/should aid them when you can.
What’s ‘ethical’ varies from person to person:
If you’ve ever taken a Ethics/Philosophy course, you’d know about this very well. You’d also know that its healthy to have these different perspective because through the conflicts that arise you’re able to have a greater discussion/understanding of what needs to be done.
Change only occurs by everyone imperfectly trying, rather than a ‘select’ few trying to make change:
I was inspired by this quote from the Zerowaste Chef:
“ We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly”
And though this is in relation to general sustainable living, I believe we can specifically apply this to the ethical fashion community. It will take more than myself to make any change, we need you, your friends, your family, your co-workers etc. to be able to end fast-fashion.
I hope that this inspires you to take your next steps to quit fast-fashion and tool to be used to aid others as well.
I’d like to know:
What step will you take next?
Who will you share this concept with?
Let me know below!