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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

Saying Goodbye to Fast Fashion: My Journey so Far

Back in 2017, I decided to say goodbye to fast fashion. Getting older and learning more about the industry I so heavily invested my time and passion in made me realise that it wasn't as nice of a place as I once thought that actually, the fashion industry can be damaging and how I was consuming it was adding to that damage. I wanted to consume less. I wanted to consume smart.

It's been almost two and half years now since I pledged to ditch the fast fashion world and reflecting on the changes I've made in that time and the things I've learned is great. I am very aware of what I've managed to achieve, what I really truly failed to, and what things I could and hopefully will still improve. It's a huge lifestyle overhaul and that shouldn't be overlooked when transitioning to a more sustainable or conscious-consumer lifestyle. So, for all of you out there who might be trying to switch things up and you feel like you're not doing it right or you've had a setback or you just simply want to join the conversation - this post is for you so you know that everyone fucks up. Me included and in a variety of ways (it's cool, we can all drag me together).

I've slipped off the wagon
I would be straight up lying to you all if I sat here and said that I've not bought directly from a fast fashion brand at all over the past 2.5 years. There's been times when that convenience, accessibility, and sheer overwhelming choice of options have won me over and honestly? It's something I know I can't beat myself up about too much. I've mentioned it before, but choosing to shop slow fashion in any capacity can be a shock to the system, particularly if you are or were someone like me who would buy a few items from Asos every. single. week. If you are/were on first name terms with the Hermes delivery driver and could ask him how the wife and kids were that week, then yes, suddenly curbing the spending would be a huge change.

I now know that it hasn't been the end of the world that I have done this over the last couple of years but instead, I can take away learning curves from it and assess why it is that I felt the high street fast fashion labels were my only option and ensure that I don't make the same slip ups in the future. A couple of areas that stick out for me is buying underwear (I had zero idea where to shop sustainable brands and I'm a girl who likes some underwire and support - a lot of ethical/sustainable brands seemed to have comfy triangle bras but not a lot of the industrial-support I was looking for) and maternity clothing. Oh my my, when I found out I was pregnant, I had all these grand schemes for buying ethical handmade dresses and stretchy items but it just wasn't feasible. I've literally woken up and not been able to fit into a pair of leggings that I had on the previous day and I've had to panic-buy something so I could go to work on Monday, not wearing my pyjamas. I also haven't been able to justify buying a £200 ethical dress when I've had to compare that to buying 5 for the same price because again, having one item that fits when you're a clumsy pregnant woman who constantly spills things down herself just isn't feasible. I know that these decisions haven't been made with no thought or consideration and I know with better planning, research, and now experience, they are unlikely to happen again in the future and that's good enough for me.

It really is a complete lifestyle overhaul and it's not linear
Again, I've mentioned how overwhelming the change of the transition can be, but it's because it's not just a case of changing your wardrobe - it's breaking old habits, changing how you have consumed fashion for years, and feeling confident in doing so. A huge learning curve for me has been assessing my shopping habits. Previously I shopped often. I'm talking spending hours each week scrolling through sites such as Zara and Asos and always picking at least one item up. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that a transition into slow fashion and only shopping secondhand or sustainably meant that I couldn't maintain that attitude to consuming. Trying to be a conscious consumer meant that I needed to put my shopping under more scrutiny. Buying 10 items on Depop instead of having a my very own weekly Asos haul wasn't being a conscious consumer - it didn't mean I was I doing the whole slow fashion thing right. Although my best intentions were there, it took me time to realise that my actions weren't mirroring the impact I wanted to make and I had to give myself time to realise that and change it.

There's some areas of your consumer personality you don't need to change
Changing to slow fashion, I initially detoxed all of my social media and YouTube subscriptions over a few days. I stopped following people I had for years all because they did weekly fashion hauls or really loved certain brands etc. and that was actually a bad move for me. I realised I could still be inspired by these influencers I enjoyed watching or reading about whilst changing my own outlook. Don't get me wrong, if you're someone who has very little willpower or you're easily tempted, following loads of fast fashion YouTubers probably isn't wise, but I found a happy medium between following influencers who are sustainable/ethical/slow fashion aficionados and promoters and then influencers who's personal style I just love and therefore look to for inspiration. It doesn't mean I have to go out and buy that sold-out Topshop skirt because they're wearing it in a really nice outfit, it just means that if I'm still lusting after that item in a couple of months time, maybe I can look for something similar on eBay or in my local charity shops.

*Do* follow some slow fashion inspiration though
It's definitely all about balance and following individuals who are also passionate about slow fashion or conscious consuming in general can really help you keep focus and also learn so you can continue to grow on your own journey. Instagram and YouTube are my two biggies for this and I enjoy following such a range of accounts that either share important climate change information (which helps me remind myself why I've made the changes I've made) or who buy exclusively from sustainable brands (so I find new shops I've not heard of before) or who simply shop completely secondhand (so they inspire me to keep that aspect of personal style and wear whatever I want, sourced in a more circular way). Following these positive influencers helps me when I'm feeling tempted by something I've seen or if I'm feeling in a "treat yo' self" mood to take a step back and ask if I a) really need this and b) if I do, does it really need to come from this awful brand with awful ethics?

Get informed - you won't know everything right away!
Lastly something that I *need* to get across to anyone worrying is that you won't be perfect and you certainly won't be at the start of your journey and that's *more* than okay! When I first decided to make the switch, I hadn't actually done all that much research in the grand scheme of things - I did a bit of reading, donated and sold a lot of my unworn clothes, and tried my hand at creating a capsule wardrobe to try and get things moving. These things did help me start the process, but I've learned so much more since then about fast fashion, ethical practices, my consuming habits etc. and I'm well aware that my approach and attitude to this lifestyle choice will continue to change and alter course and content as the years go by. Rather than worry about that and see it as something I haven't perfected yet and therefore it's a failure, I'm seeing it more exciting steps in the right direction and my journey will continue to improve over the next few years.

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1 comment

Honestly Aine said...

I think I've decided to do this more. I've cut right down on my shopping in general and started visiting more second hand shops. I think being more conscious about our decisions in the way forward. Thanks for sharing your journey - we're all human and we slip up - it's the majority of our actions that add up I reckon!

Honestly Aine

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