Saturday, March 18, 2017

Here's How I Completely Gave Up Fast Fashion (and Transferred to Exclusively Secondhand)

Ever since I discovered Forever21 in the 6th grade, I've been hooked on disposable, trendy, and cheap fashion. It's natural, I mean every middle, and even high schooler has an instinct to wear what their friends are wearing and within the past decade, mall shops have made it the easiest to do so. Large companies such as H&M, Zara, and Forever21 are a phenomenon that isn't all that mysterious within essence, trends are able to drift through and consumers are able to own large, trendy, wardrobes at a seemingly low cost.
There are so many separate issues within shopping fast fashion, yet I also hate the condescending and classist way many influencers have talked about giving these stores up, and believe they're experts because they saw The True Cost once (not to knock this film, would highly recommend). A world without fast fashion is incredibly ideal to most people, but you also must look at the flip side of these buyers. Fast fashion is cheap and for majority of its followers, makes up most their wardrobe because it's affordable. Telling someone to give it up is much harder than it sounds, and in reality, will cost marginally more. Yet as I read more on ethical shopping, along with simply evaluating my wardrobe, found it not as big a sacrifice as I thought to gradually purge my habits.
one of my prized dresses from Urban Jungle in Brooklyn

Quitting was the hardest part. To do so, I first took a look at my wardrobe that was mainly filled with far too many shirts of the same variation of a black crop top, a collection of band shirts from Hot Topic I haven't worn since freshman year, and two pairs of ill fitting American Eagle boyfriend jeans. Not so appealing. How did I own so much clothing yet wore seemingly the same outfit everyday? The first step was the purge. I chucked the jeans, packed away the band tees (who knows if they'll seem "vintage" in twenty or so years?) and left the black crop tops be. You can never have too many of those. Before deciding this was it, I looked at my basics pile (spaghetti strap tops) which was more than full. There's no pressure to trash your fast fashion pieces, in fact one of the vices of supporting it is how much people dispose of the low quality clothing. In 2016, 12.8 million textiles ended up in landfills. 
My next step was replenishing. Winter was coming, and I had trashed all my cheap sweaters last year. This is where the actually fun part came in. For starters, I'd have to confirm thrift shopping is far from being a new concept for me (and tragically have these cringy 2014 posts to prove it), shopping solely from it a little less so. Four years ago, I actually made an incredibly embarrassing (and alright, kind of cute) post about how to actually thrift shop and my own tips (which I'm surprised are still extremely similar) which I'm hoping to make an updated version of soon. 
part of my piece for Mad Sounds featuring this awesome camo jacket and plaid mini skirt I thrifted
Not only have I become an ethical shopper from switching over to exclusively secondhand clothing, I've also witnessed a whole laundry list of benefits from my new shopping habits. For starters, and this is pretty obvious, almost everything I own is one of a kind, or at least not mass produced. I always used to hate seeing someone wearing the same top as me and now it's kind of off putting to see a million of the same shirt on a rack. Thrift shopping also makes all my clothing so much more sentimental, everything has a story behind it. I love varsity jackets with names stitched on and worn denim and broken in Doc Martens. I love imagining the past lives of the items in my drawers (one of the coolest being a denim jacket in which I found train tickets all throughout France in the pocket). 
For the past two years, I've been incredibly insecure when it comes to standing out and have missed the thirteen year old version of myself who just played dress up everyday. At the moment, my dressers are spilling with cheesy $2 graphic tees, grass grazing $5 skirts, and $1 slip tops, I don't think I've ever been so happy with the way I dress. Along with this, by supporting stores like Goodwill, you are creating jobs for disabled people who normally wouldn't be hired, and patronizing charity shops like Housing Works or Out of the Closet**, your cash is going to a worthy cause instead of some CEO's pocket. 
**there also most likely is a hospice or church thrift shop near you- one of my favorite places ever is a small secondhand shop in the basement of a church two towns over where all the proceeds go to helping the local women's shelter. I once got a vintage Christian Dior slip top there- incredible. 
for my upcoming piece on Mimp about 70s style- floral blouses are a recent obsession of mine
For reference, here's a list of my favorite thrift shops (in order of preference):
-Unique (unsure if its mainly a NY/NJ thing)
-Urban Jungle (Bushwick) 
-No Relation (LES)
-L Train Vintage (Williamsburg/Bed Stuy/East Village)
-Monk Vintage (Williamsburg/Greenwich/LES)
-Out of the Closet (Atlantic Ave) proceeds go to AIDS Healthcare Foundation
-Housing Works (all over the city- my favorite is in the Flatiron district) proceeds go to both stopping AIDS and homelessness 
-Junk (Williamsburg)
-Buffalo Exchange (my favorite location is in Chelsea) 

*I also have a very condensed version of this list here

ALSO for further reading on fast fashion, my two favorites are The True Cost, Overdressed, this, this, this,  and this 

Hope this was a break from the classist talks on purging your $20 dresses. 

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