Fast fashion, or “McFashion,” is clothing that quickly moves from the catwalk to local stores like Zara and Topshop to capture the latest trends as soon as possible. However, the term is also associated with clothing that can be purchased fairly cheaply and isn’t really meant to last long, from stores such as Forever 21 and H&M. While it’s great to have options for more affordable clothing and accessories, the long-term impacts of the fast fashion movement cannot be ignored.
First off, there’s the fact that you end up paying more in the long run. You could buy 3 $30 bags because they keep breaking and needing to be replaced, or you could just shell out $80 in the first place for better quality that lasts for years. It can be tough to get used to going for more expensive options, but just remind yourself that you’re saving money and time in the long run by not having to replace your entire wardrobe every season or two. Of course, a higher price doesn’t always signal better quality. Make sure to research new stores or brands to be sure you’re really getting what you pay for.
Secondly, there’s the environmental burden that this type of product creates. Clothing that is manufactured quickly in order to fly off the shelves often doesn’t last and flies straight into a landfill not long after. As it turns out, the only industry that pollutes more than the clothing industry is the oil industry. Fast fashion has led to an alarming increase in carbon emissions and has contributed immensely to global warming.
CHOOSE WHERE TO INVEST
Most young adults don’t have enough disposable income to drop major coin on the highest quality of every option, so we have to figure out where to direct the most money so, as to minimize overall costs. Personally, I always make sure to buy nice quality shoes. When I find a pair I like, I wear it far too often to waste my money on a low quality boot that’ll fall apart by the end of the season. Jewelry and purses are other areas in which I’m not stingy. I spent a LOT of money when I was a kid on cheap accessories from fast fashion brands, and I’ve learned my lesson. As a young professional, I’m working on amassing a wardrobe with solid, durable pieces that will last for years and take a bit of financial burden off my back in the long run.
Visit stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls to find well-made designer brands at lower prices. You may not always find exactly what you want right away, but shopping at more eclectic stores helps your wallet—and as an added bonus, you always walk away with that unparalleled good feeling of finding a fantastic bargain where there seemed to be nothing. Thrift stores are another option. Buying a top from a thrift store keeps it out of the trash at very low cost to you. All kinds of gems can be uncovered if you take the time to look. Just make sure to be respectful—for many, thrifting is a necessity rather than a choice. Keep that in mind and don’t be obnoxious.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
Don’t throw out your clothes when you’re done with them! Provided there are no huge problems with the garment, like huge rips or a missing sleeve, donate it to your local thrift store or list it for resale on a site like eBay or Depop. You can generate a little extra cash from these old clothes while setting them free to find a new life and reduce your carbon footprint.
It’s tough to adjust your shopping habits in a way that feels so alien. After all, not too many of us have made a habit of paying more when paying less is an an option. But a few thoughtful changes in spending habits can have a long-term positive impact on not only your wallet, but the world.