Should I drop fast fashion, even if I love fashion?

Reasonable fashionista

I created exfashionista more than two years ago, after drastically emptying my closet, and by being more conscious of what I was buying.

Let’s be realistic: you don’t go from being a shopping addict to being 100% eco-friendly, and I find it great that some people are, but it just doesn’t suit me: I am very interested in fashion, and I still want to splurge on clothes sometimes, without feeling guilty. However, I have been willing to be more conscious for a long time. For me, it’s about being eco-conscious for sure, but it’s also a matter of respect for the workers who make our clothes. Not to mention the lack of space, and how good it feels when your closet is neat and not packed with things you never wear.

Fast fashion: ecology, ethics and health

Through my  research and my experience, I think fast fashion is not the devil. It allows people to splurge, and creates millions of jobs. The issue is, people buy too much, almost nothing actually gets recycled, one garments needs litres of water and toxic products to be made; in short, it’s an ecological scandal. Moreover, millions of jobs in the fashion industry are suffering horrific working conditions. Finally, more recently, it has been made official that toxic chemicals on clothes are very numerous (chrome on leather, dimethylfumarate to prevent bacteria during transportation…), and it has now been recommended in France to wash your clothes before wearing them, but only since last July ! Having never thought of that, when I now think about the ton of clothes I wore after simply cutting the tag off, I’m gettingg cold sweat.

Should we avoid fast fashion?

For me, total boycott is not a real answer. The ideal situation is not for fashion not to exist (1 person out of 6 in the world, works in the fashion industry after all), but that profit would be more equal, and hence, there would be less waste. A slow revolution is starting to happen, and after the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, a lot of mainstream brands have adopted better ethics and made an effort for the environment. It’s far from perfect, but several fast fashion brands are actually way better rated than a lot of high end and luxury brands, when it comes to those issues. In the end, the customer should just stop buying so much, and we should ask ourselves if we are really going to wear that garment enough times to make it worth the inevitable eventual waste, and therefore, if its quality seems good enough. Surprisingly, I have had clothes from the fast fashion industry that I’ve kept for years, so if a fabric looks really cheap, let’s not buy it thinking we’ll throw it away anyway, and find something else.

My solution: a small challenge

After being all over the place trying to be more responsible (buy less but more expensive, renting my clothes, creating capsule wardrobes… everything was either disappointing or complicated), and after going through yet another drastic closet reduction, I have finally found something that suits me. The slow fashion movement (only buy second-hand clothes or 100% ethical products – if you can find them) is a bit too strict for me. I already buy a lot of second-hand articles, and I have quite a selection in my wardrobe already. But when you find out that people in Europe each buy around 20kg of textile a year, it already seems like an effort to set up a challenge to only buying 3 pieces per season (that is, 6 pieces a year). I commit to only buying them from brands – including fast fashion –  that have the best rates from the app good on you, and from the  fashion revolution movement website. Check out my outfits on instagram, @exfashionista. Who’s in?

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