Avoiding Fast Fashion and 5 Ways to be Fashionably Eco-Conscious.

Thursday 25 April 2019

I know it's hard to not enter a Zara store when you're walking past one... just like how it's hard for me to resist stopping by a McDonald's drive thru when I'm in Jerudong. I fell into the trap of fast fashion being a University student who loved keeping up with the latest trends. Brands like Zara and H&M were relatively cheaper and less brutal on the pockets. But with fashion being one of the biggest polluting industries, there's more to just buying cheap clothes that go out of fashion (and won't last that long anyway).

Edit: As I was re-reading that, I don't want you to think that I think Zara is cheap or neither do I want you to think that I feel like I'm too cool for Zara. Let's just all agree that Zara churns out amazing clothes. Zara is one of my weaknesses. I love the colors and the style pieces of Zara and the entire Inditex Group. When I talk about cheap clothes... I meant fast fashion in general. Primark. Boohoo. Missguided. Anything that does mass production of RELATIVELY cheaper clothes and has a high rate of wastage. Hope that clears things.

Carcel is one of my favorite ethical brands made with sustainable material by women who are imprisoned for poverty-related crimes.

I dedicated my Masters Degree to research on the sustainability of fast fashion. The amount of resources used (like water), the high carbon emissions, the amount of waste not bought and thrown out when the seasons change, the unfair treatment towards garment makers in developing/underdeveloped countries... are so ugly that you gotta think twice before you make a purchase. I haven't walked into a Zara store for over a year... and I don't remember the last time I shopped at H&M. While having started to make a move into the ethical direction with more climate positive goals and by having their own 'conscious' lines that use recycled polyester and organic cotton, these two biggest fast fashion retailers are still not doing enough.

The incident at a garment factory in Bangladesh that happened 6 years ago today, took around 1,134 lives and injured around 2,500 people. That really affected me. I never understood the magnitude of the matter until photos started circulating around. Cheap clothes mean that the supply chain must be relatively cheap too. How could I ever feel good wearing something knowing that it was made by someone who was underpaid (in some cases NOT paid. Sources: here and here but you can just look it up to read a plethora of sources that discuss this issue) and not taken care of? I haven't even gotten to the environmental impact of the entire industry. All the chemicals and microfibers that end up in the oceans and even the water we drink. But we only have ourselves to blame... these big companies are driven by the consumer culture.

My dear shopaholic friends, it's time we be wiser and start shopping consciously.

1. Buy classics.
Buy pieces that can withstand the test of time. White, black and neutral colored basics are staples in my wardrobe. A good, durable and resilient pair of jeans. A black blazer. You could come up with multiple outfits just by having that alone.

2. Don't submit to trends.
I'm getting better at this. I don't follow trends anymore. At least, not a lot of them. Plus I'm too old for them sometimes. Love the look of socks in heels and colored eyeshadows in editorial magazines and fashion week... but I'm not cool enough for that. I do still follow trends when a season comes out with a great color though... like Lilac in 2018. But purchase it in something you'd wear even after the trend dies down. This all goes back to #1. Sticking to the classics.

3. Sleep on it.
Avoid impulse purchases. Give it a few days/weeks. If you still want it by then, then you can get it. 

4. Increase the number of uses per wash.
Our clothes shed a lot of plastic microfibers in the washing machine. Plus... save energy. Unless you just rolled around in mud and perspired buckets... I say... reuse those pair of jeans for tomorrow. 

5. Do your research and support brands that care about being sustainable and ethical. 
You can always read more about your favorite brands to know where your money goes. (Unfortunately, Uniqlo isn't that transparent. You would think that a company who doesn't really follow the conventional fast fashion model could easily set up something more sustainable... but you still hear news about them not paying their workers. Read here but just google it to find out more. So I'm not sure about this one.) Caring about workers' welfare and the environment are not easy tasks. They're not cheap either. Wherever you can, let's try and support these wonderful brands that don't get enough love. 

I hope to move LMN into that direction. Gradually but surely. We have no choice. We need to be better.



  1. Great tips to practice! It will never hurt us for not spending lots of money only to follow the trends. Those will pass by and new things will still come whether we like it or not. The only thing that I usually go classic is hijab. Keep using the same tudung for days unless it really dirty.
    Thank you so much for the tips!

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