At one time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Fast forward to today, the fashion industry is churning out “52 micro-seasons” per year- with new collection launching every week. With new trends coming out every week, consumers are often lead into impulse buying, trying to keep up with trends.
Why should we care? A recent study shows that 1-tonne of textiles waste is discarded every 5 minutes in Singapore. 92% of it is incinerated, ending up in landfills- and most of these apparels are made out of synthetic petroleum-based fibers such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, which will take anywhere from 50 to 200 years for these garments to decompose.
Buying less, becoming a more conscious consumer, shopping for quality not quantity; it is true that the inundation of fast-fashion is hard to counter especially in the age of social media today. But your decision to purchase cheap fast fashion may not only contribute to the harmful side-effects on the planet but most possibly would also be a waste of money on products that won’t last.
Here are some suggestions on how to shop smarter and in a more responsible way:
Make reading care label tags a habit: We should develop a habit of reading care labels before making a purchase. This will help us understand the material of the product is made from, and the necessary care that’s needed for the item to last longer.
- Buy lesser, wear longer: Fast-fashion retailers keep their customers engaged by frequently churning out new designs that are priced relatively low but falls apart quicker too so that we will throw them only to purchase new ones. This is a vicious cycle. Instead of purchasing clothes that are cheaper and don’t last, save up and buy clothes of higher quality that will last you much longer.
Keeping it simple: Buying garments that have simple design silhouette in neutral colours are a good way for styling more looks with lesser number of products.
- Natural or eco-friendly fabrics: While garments made of polyester and nylon are less expensive, wrinkles less and dries quickly after wash– they are also less breathable, vulnerable to bacteria build-up, and made from non-renewable fossil fuels. Choose garments that are made using natural or eco-friendly fabrics such as cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp or even natural man-made fiber such as Tencel®(lyocell).
- Knowing when to STOP: Shopping responsibly not only means to shop ethically but also means knowing when not to shop. Ask yourself if you really need to make that purchase and how important it is to you.
- Shop vintage or at second-hand stores: Vintage or thrift stores can be a great source for finding unique pieces and generally inexpensive. By turning to secondhand clothing, you will also be contributing to small local businesses!
It is true that if you stop shopping for cheap fast fashion, you will end up spending more; but it also means that you will end up with garments that are of higher quality, lasts you longer, and have you cherishing them more.