How to Quit Fast Fashion
I currently live right outside of Union Square in San Francisco, where people flock to shop. It’s alarmingly easy to accumulate pieces I only sort of wanted, but when the price seems reasonable enough to justify errant spending, I find myself doing just that. Pieces in the $20-$50 range seem like a steal, but when I totalled up my spending at stores cranking out low-quality items and realized most pieces fit me poorly or wouldn’t last for long due to lack of consideration on my part, it was a pretty disheartening realization. Most of these went directly to donation, and I can only imagine a landfill waiting for them shortly thereafter.
This is a cycle I want to break, so inspired by the team of stylish women around me who may make bigger purchases, but certainly find them lasting longer and returning on their initial investments when they decide they’re ready to consign, I’m sharing my beginner’s steps towards more sustainable and intentional shopping habits.
Understand The Impact
It’s easy to brush off statistics, but as landfills continue to exceed their capacities it’s important to remember that when you buy a piece, whether it’s a blatant knockoff at a fast fashion store or a poorly made piece that you may only get a few wears from, it will likely end up there too. On top of physical waste, there is tremendous chemical waste in the textile industry, which sometimes uses mercury, lead and arsenic that can bleed into waterways.
It’s also important to consider the behind-the-scenes production practices of some fast fashion companies. Too often, there are poor working conditions and violated rights for employees. The only way to make an informed purchase is to do your own research to ensure you are buying responsibly. I’ve learned how much I admire brands with a tradition of craftsmanship and ethical practices, such as Hermès whose strong humanist values contribute to high employee satisfaction (as well as creating a high-quality, long lasting products.)
Céline Lucy Sunglasses, $225; Hermès 2017 Special Order Swift Birkin 25, $15,400; Christian Dior 2017 J’adior Slingback Flats, $695
Invest In Pieces That Last A Lifetime
Heritage and luxury brands are beloved for good reason. They create products that stand the test of time, and you can actually see and feel the quality of materials and craftsmanship you’re investing in. The pieces you choose to wear and carry with you every day become a part of your identity, so it’s important that they suit you and reflect your personal values. The more carefully I curate my belongings, the greater sense of pride and comfort I feel.
Steering clear of casual browsing at fast fashion stores has helped me to curb impulse buys and carefully consider my purchases. Evaluating the cost-per-wear of an item, as well as the fit and quality, will ensure that each purchase is worth what you spend.
Consider The Resale Value
The best part about consignment is that it allows you the freedom to purchase a luxury product and make a portion of your money back when you decide it’s time to let go. Our valuation offices can help you identify the items that have the highest potential for resale so you can maximize your earnings. At The RealReal, we are always amazed to see the longevity of well-cared-for pieces and are proud to facilitate the many life cycles it will have as it changes hands. The investments made on classic items like a Birkin or more of-the-moment pieces like Dior ribbon flats or a Gucci logo t-shirt are being returned, while the item becomes more affordable to the new recipient.
It can be hard to follow through, but over time small changes create a better wardrobe with a dramatically reduced environmental footprint. My clothes fit better, suit my lifestyle and personal aesthetics, and I’m even saving money now that I’m avoiding impulsive habits. It’s an incredibly refreshing feeling, and every bit worth the consideration.
Simon Miller 2017 Bonsai Nubuck 15 Bucket Bag w/ Tags, $325; Gucci 2017 Distressed T-Shirt, $795; Balenciaga Knife Crepe Booties, $825
In alignment with our core values, we’ve partnered with Stella McCartney who champions sustainability initiatives and believes a push towards a more circular economy through recommerce is beneficial to our planet. Read more here.