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So your favorite retailer is probably a fast fashion brand, meaning that production costs are cut through the use of unfair compensation and damaging chemical treatments that go unregulated. As a student, it can be hard to know there’s a problem but not know what to do about it. If you’re set on moving away from fast fashion and want to steer toward ethical but affordable clothing options, then here are a few ideas to think about.
Buy secondhand, including upscale resale.
This one is a no-brainer, but often times shopping at places like Goodwill and Family Thrift isn’t for everyone. Some people are averse to sifting through worn clothing, and it’s true that it’s not always the most enjoyable shopping experience. It can be overwhelming when everything is mixed together, and the quality of certain items is up for debate. Luckily, especially in cities like Houston, there are a variety of “upscale resale” shops like Buffalo Exchange, or Plato’s closet. These stores offer cash for new and used items that have been well-taken-care-of and are often organized in a way that’s easy to navigate. Online options include apps such as Depop and Polyvore, where you can contact the seller directly and make sure that the item is going to fit and is in good condition, without having to sift through chaotic racks.
Swap some of your clothing with others.
While it’s not a common practice outside of families, swapping clothing with friends can be an interesting experience. It helps if your friends have a similar size and taste, but if that’s not the case, there are usually public events that can involve a similar concept. Often found online through social media, community or city-wide swaps are a way to both socialize and trade something that you have for something that you need.
Try making your own clothes or changing the ones that you already have.
A needle and thread, glue gun or a simple alteration can go a long way. Instead of replacing something that doesn’t fit the way that you would like, having it taken in or reworked by a professional can cost a lot less than replacing it all together. There are a multitude of online resources that offer patterns if you want to try making something yourself, or DIY suggestions that can take just a few minutes. If you find something outrageously cheap at the thrift store, there are a number of blogs that show you how to turn an existing garment into something wearable. For inspiration, it can help to take a look at current runway shows, and you can pick the looks you like.
Buy from sustainable brands.
While there are a lot of sustainable brands out there, especially online, most of them are not affordable for the average student. Not only is money an issue, but items that are made sustainably are seldom trendy and there’s not a great deal of variety. Everlane, a transparent and ethical company, offers a wide variety of sustainably made basics that last forever and are not quite as expensive as other options, such as PeopleTree. Buying from smaller brands, such as on Instagram or Etsy, is a great way to support ethical artisans and hopefully find a competitive price.