The concept of fast fashion is like that taboo little thing that you know you shouldn’t be involved with, but isn’t really a big deal if you are. It’s in the back of your mind at times, but the cute as hell top erases any doubts you’ve had about buying a 7$ shirt that people in Bangladesh have probably slaved over.
Fast fashion is something that I’ve known about for a couple of years now.
When I was aware of it, I can’t really remember, I feel like I’ve heard whispers about the poor workers who put together my cheap garments since I was pretty young.
My mindset was pretty much “out of sight, out of mind”. Since the subject seemed to be so far away from me, and never really affected me directly, I never really thought of it in depth.
Whenever I would walk into a store or madly go through the racks at H&M and Forever 21, I would look at the flimsy pieces of carbon copy garments and remember the faint pictures of people in factories and sweat shops, only to distract myself with the bold red print that screamed “REDUCED PRICE” and everything would go back to normal.
I never felt guilty buying clothes from large chains. The end of the netflix documentary “The True Cost” even claimed that individuals cannot really do much to affect the large companies that mass produce cheap clothes. The only way to make significant change is to band together to really do something.
And so, as a 17 something year old, I shrugged and said “Well, what can I do? I’m in high school and I don’t even have a job or a car or power or a voice”. Then I left it at that and never really thought about it again.
I don’t know what it is about the teenage years and materialism. So many hours of my time w̶e̶r̶e̶ are spent over pining over clothes and makeup and skincare products. SO MANY HOURS ITS CRAZY.
This materialism overshadows any ethical issues I have with the products I want so badly. Is the makeup/ skincare cruelty free? I hardly even read the packaging. If it’s a color I want, then I’ll swipe it.
Are the clothes I’m buying ethically made? First of all, what does that even mean? And if it’s under 10$ then it’s ethical for my wallet.
These questions always seemed to be some hippy crap that I would roll my eyes at. What would one person buying cruelty free products even do? Nothing. The large companies would still make a crap ton of money from everyone else not caring about cruelty free and ethically made clothing.
Then I realized something.
That yes, one person (aka me) refusing to buy into fast fashion and other products that are sketchy would never make a dent into any companies fortune.
But it’s more of a personal thing. It’s your personal decision to be aware of your surroundings and the world that you’re living in.
I’m so so tired of pining after so many things and not even knowing where the hell they come from.
I’m so tired of wanting and wanting material items, and not even looking around for a second at my surroundings and being aware of why I even want these things in the first place.
So with a mix of being exhausted by my materialistic thinking, and a randomly recommended youtube video on thrifting, my eyes opened a little bit to the destruction fast fashion creates.
The channel that opened my eyes is Kristen Leo’s Channel:
This was the video I clicked on, but then i clicked on all her other videos that inform viewers about the harmful effects of fast fashion, and all about ethical fashion.
While I’m definitely not an expert on fast fashion or ethical fashion, I’m starting to become interested in being aware of where my clothes come from.
It’s going to be a long and difficult process, but I’m willing to be involved in practicing ethical fashion, not to rebel against the large corporations per say, but for myself.
If that seems selfish, I think any reason to start practicing ethical fashion is a valid one.
So what do I mean by practicing it for myself?
I want to cleanse myself of materialistic thinking. Of being obsessed with brands and trends, and I think practicing ethical fashion (shopping at thrift shops/ not overconsuming) is a great way to start.
This is going to be HARD.
Why? Because I’m a college student and I don’t really want to buy anything over 15$ for clothing.
Quality vs. Quantity is something that I need to prioritize.
The youtube channel I came across showed me that I can be interested in fashion, without being wasteful. I can be mindful in my interests without supporting big companies that harm others.
Abandoning fast fashion brands, and fast fashion in general is going to be TOUGH. I don’t know if I can cut cold turkey, because it involves so much more than just “not buying at a couple stores”.
I think it involves restraint, motivation to learn about the harmful effects of fast fashion, and a passion to continue to be aware about the world around us.
I don’t know if this is a phase I’m going through (I hope not), but I really want to continue this. I want to start being more aware of the materials I’m using.
Wish me luck! And if anyone has any advice for me (I’m so all over the place I’m so sorry) please tell me!