I know, I know. You’re probably wondering what I, an ethical fashion and sustainable living blogger mean when she says she’s ditching “ethical fashion”. Allow me to explain.
I’m not ditching the principle of ethical or sustainable fashion because I believe they’re so very important. We have a moral and environmental motive to support ethical and sustainable brands.
My new approach is simply leaning more into slow fashion and not exclusively ethical or sustainable fashion.
What is slow fashion? Slow fashion has two main meanings, in my opinion.
First, slow fashion is obviously the opposite of fast fashion. Fast fashion is more commercial brands like Walmart, Target, Forever21, H&M, and Zara (and on and on) that produce fashion in a very fast manner in order to get a piece of clothing from manufacturer to on the racks in only a matter of weeks. The fast timeline leads to poor quality clothing, poor materials, and at the expense of the planet and underpaid and overworked garment workers.
Slow fashion is like I said, the opposite. It’s clothing that is made ethically and sustainably where everyone along the chain gets paid and treated fairly and corners aren’t cut or rushed at the expense of anything or anyone.
Slow fashion can also mean the rate at which we consume fashion. It’s estimated that the average American buys 68 new pieces of clothing a year. A YEAR. With about 80% of that clothing rarely being worn, if at all. We’re addicted to the latest trend, and sale items, and buying things outside of our comfort zone which gets pushed to the back of our closets never to see the daylight.
It’s clear that is a problem. But I’d argue that the biggest problem is that we’ve been conditioned to believe that ethical fashion or slow fashion is expensive. When we’re brought up paying $5-$10 for a shirt, $50 or even $30 for a shirt can seem insane. It’s all about reframing our mindset. THat $50 shirt ensured that no one was overworked or paid mere pennies to make it. It also ensures that it’s good quality and will far outlast that $5 shirt.
That being said, we can reframe our mindsets all we want. That doesn’t mean we can all afford to drop $50 on a shirt and I get that. I’ve been struggling with this as well and why I’ve decided to wholeheartedly lean into slow fashion. The consumption of clothing both slowly and ethically where I can.
If you follow me on Instagram or Youtube then you know that thrifting is my forte and my go-to when I need to buy anything. I recommend this to anyone who wants to quit fast fashion but can’t quite commit to an exclusively ethical wardrobe.
Because having an exclusively ethical wardrobe isn’t attainable for most people. And for myself, it’s been hard wanting to live as ethically and sustainably as possible and not being able to afford the pieces I need in an ethical way. I often feel like a failure if I need a piece that I can’t find second hand or afford it ethically.
So instead of just plainly boycotting fast fashion altogether, I’m simply slowing my rate of consumption. I’m buying only what I need. First thrifting, then buying ethically if I can, and if neither of those options works out, I will buy to last with whatever is at my disposal and in my budget.
This way of seeing and buying fashion has been so freeing. I don’t love buying non-ethically pieces. I know what goes on in factories and the problem with textile waste. But we have to remember that it’s not entirely up to us to dismantle the systems put in place. After all fast fashion is only “fast fashion” because of the insane rate of demand. By slowing our rate of consumption, buying infrequently and only what we need, we’re already making an impact.
I just don’t think that you or I can carry the weight of this burden alone. Our choices matter and they’re making a difference. Don’t ever feel otherwise.
- Can you shop fast fashion sustainably?
- How to take care of your clothes and make them last
- How I became an advocate for slow fashion
Thank you so much for reading and hearing me out. I hope this post could provide a little bit of hope for those of you struggling to do it all. You can’t and that’s ok. Please don’t forget to share this post and follow me on Instagram for more daily slow fashion and sustainable living inspiration.
PS: Interested in a job in the ethical fashion industry? Check out Jooble!
I love this idea, and am planning on implementing a similar system myself! Right now I’m going on a no buy because I have far too many clothes and I need to save my money, but once I get back to shopping I plan to do so in a slow fashion.
Caity Rose says
That’s awesome! I did a no-buy for a few months as well and it’s just as impactful!