You’ve probably heard of the term fast fashion. The Oxford dictionary defines it as, “Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” I think it’s fair to say that most of us have bought fast fashion.
In March 2017, ABC’s Lateline program reported that “in Australia alone, more than 500,000 tonnes of textiles and leather end up in landfill each year.” That’s mind blowing!
These days the fashion industry has the ability to manufacture cheap, low quality clothing very quickly. Retailers are introducing new trends every few weeks and this is impacting our buying habits. We’re buying more and more clothes and the flow on effect is that the amount of clothes we’re throwing away is increasing too.
So how do we put the brakes on this fast fashion phenomenon? What can we do to extend the lifespan of our clothes and delay their journey into landfill?
Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Donate to and shop at charity stores. There’s plenty to choose from: Australian Red Cross, Vinnies, Salvos, Anglicare and The Smith Family. I bought this stunning Elie Tahari silk blouse for $28 at my local Red Cross shop…. Bargain!
- Sell or buy at recycle/consignment boutiques. I’ve used Recycled Rags Emporium in Sydney to sell some of my near new clothes and shoes that were lying idle in my wardrobe.
- Buy and sell online at websites such as Ebay, Gumtree and Facebook’s Marketplace.
- Organise swap meets with friends or participate in a local community event. Last Sunday Inner West Council held a clothing swap as part of their Footprints Eco Festival. It was a fantastic initiative and lots of fun.
What else can I do to put the brakes on Fast Fashion?
- Offer or gift items to family and friends (with no offence taken if they don’t want them.)
- Buy eco friendly fashion items from businesses that promote ethical and sustainable fashion such as purepod.com.au, theark.com.au (their Travel 17 collection is fantastic), wellmadeclothes.com.au and threadharvest.com.au
- Sell at markets and car boot sales. I have sold clothes, shoes, accessories and other bits and pieces at Rozelle markets in Sydney on the occasional weekend. Each time I walked away with a tidy profit of more than $600!
- If you buy from fashions brands like H & M, Nike and Patagonia, look into their recycling programs and incentives.
- Donate ‘gently used’ professional clothing to your local not for profit organisations that support women and men in their quest for financial independence through employment and upskilling. e.g. Wear for Success in Melbourne (for men and women), and Dress for Success (Women only. Locations around Australia).
- Vivienne Westwood said it so well; “Buy less, choose well.” Invest in higher quality items that mix and match with pieces you already own. Not only will they last longer, (that’s the aim of the game), but you’ll get better cost per wear per garment. Every item will earn its keep. Spending money on higher quality fabrics and textiles helps garments retain their shape, colour and surface texture for longer.
- Shop your wardrobe. Spend an afternoon reinventing new outfits from the pieces you already own. You’ll probably discover items you forgot were there or find pieces that still have the shop tag on them! Get your creative juices flowing! Breathe new life into the existing contents of your wardrobe.
- If you’re handy with a sewing machine or know a quality clothing alterations store you can repair or restyle garments to give them a new lease of life. You could change them to align with current fashion trends or to better fit your figure and proportions. And, if you’re stuck for ideas, Suzannah Hamlin Stanley’s book, ‘DIY Wardrobe Makeovers: Alter, Refresh & Refashion Your Clothes * Step-By-Step Sewing Tutorials’ provides plenty of handy tips and inspiration. Another book worth mentioning is, “The Refashion Handbook: Refit, Redesign, Remake for Everybody.’ by Beth Huntington.
- Rent items you’ll only wear once. It’s such an easy, affordable way to stay current and you’ll never be seen wearing the same outfit twice. Rates are very reasonable compared to the cost of a new garment and most suppliers offer next day delivery to capital cities. dressedup.com.au glamcorner.com.au yourcloset.com.au
- Lastly, create a capsule wardrobe: a group of clothes that mix and match with each other unified by colour. You’ll need less clothes and have more options because all items work together. It also equates to better cost per wear per item e.g. A $100 for a shirt worn 100 times = $1 each time you wore it.