Finding Balance Between Fast Fashion and Sustainability




A few days ago I stumbled upon a brilliant article by To Universe, with Love, which perfectly captured the unexpected complexity of weaning off of Zara, a retail giant, that has shamelessly overtaken my closet over these past few years. Fast fashion is something that I'd love to hate, yet I find myself continuously giving in to the appeal of affordable and readily available "runway-inspired" pieces. Cheap, trendy, disposable. Ideally, I'd like to quit my guilt-ridden shopping habit cold turkey and move on to better, more sustainable alternatives, yet it has proven to be quite a challenge. With the majority of independent brands being located across the pond, such factors as shipping and import duties come into play, raising the overall cost of a coveted garment to new, unjustifiable heights. So, today I thought I'd share my tips on making the most out of mass market offerings and finding balance in a limited space of sustainable alternatives.

'What' instead of 'where'

When browsing the shops for sustainable pieces, go straight for the tags. Search for such natural materials as cotton, wool and silk, as they'll prove to be a more long-lasting and functional alternative to polyester blouses and neoprene tops. Stores like H&M and Zara have the so-called "premium line", which features somewhat timeless pieces made from predominantly natural materials. On a good day, you can easily score a silk shirt for a price of a polyester one, and while some of the mass produced items can lack the luxurious feel of their premium priced counterparts, you'll still get all the benefits of a natural material. When buying shoes and bags, check the stitching and avoid any glued parts, as they tend to come apart pretty easily. Generally, this tip is about focusing on the piece outside of the fast fashion context, Consider the cut and the material - will it last? 

Shop second hand

I grew up on second-hand shops and hand me downs, so it took me a while to overcome my deep-seated aversion to pre-owned items. For the most part, I still tend to avoid physical second-hand shops - online is where it's at! Be it Ebay, Tictail or even Vestiaire Collective, you can easily find high-quality items that won't break the bank. For example, last month I managed to score a brand new Whistles dress for a mere €30, which, as you can imagine, might have been the best bargain ever. Follow your favorite fashion bloggers on social media just in case they decide to do a massive wardrobe clear out. 

Discover independent brands

When it comes to doing fashion differently, brands like Reformation and Everlane might be the first ones that spring to mind, however they're definitely not the only ones. Whether you're looking for sustainable manufacturers or transparent business practices, chances are that some new, emerging brand is doing just that. The Private Life of a Girl has a great list of ethical independent brands, and such online shops as Pho.London and Garmentory offer a curated selection of contemporary designers with an emphasis on quality. When doing your own research, be sure to always check the "About" page to learn about the brand's business practices and philosophy.

What's your take on fast fashion?