At the Fair Cottage, we believe in the alternatives to mass production in the textile industry. Check out our simple guide to what’s wrong with fast fashion to find out why.
Perhaps the one tangible benefit of fast fashion is the savings for consumers. However, even this idea is undermined when you think how long such low quality clothing tends to last. And that’s without considering the cost of fast fashion for the environment. Perhaps it’s time to shift our focus from saving pennies to saving our precious planet.
If you’re ready to go slow, but not sure where to begin, then let my top tips guide point you in the right direction.
Pick a Style and Stick With it
It was just over two years ago that I decided to stand up and dress in what I believe in. Since then, I have slowly phased out shopping at fast fashion retailers and opted for ethically made or second hand clothing instead.
I stick to timeless items and a limited number of colours that can be mixed and matched as different outfits and fit naturally with my style. I have reduced the total number of items in my wardrobe by around half, donating or selling at flea markets any unwanted items and keeping only one decent pair of shoes for summer and one pair for winter.
Try defining your own timeless style. Which type of fit and colours do you feel most comfortable in? Write down three to five things that sum up your style. Take a look at your wardrobe, and based on what you have written down, work out what you want to keep and what you could donate or sell.
Organise Clothes Swap Gatherings or Bins at Work
At CRCLR house, a sustainability focused coworking space in Berlin, where The Fair Cottage is based, there is a handy swap bin for dropping off or rehoming clothing. It’s a great, stress free way of offloading unwanted items and perhaps finding something new too.
Swap parties require a little more effort, but they are a great way to meet up with friends and freshen up your wardrobe without having to spend a penny, except perhaps on party snacks and prosecco.
Buy Second Hand
If you’ve decided a wardrobe refresh is in order, buying Vintage clothing is a safe bet thanks to them having already outlasted their contemporaries, in terms of both appeal and durability.
However, vintage shops, especially those in big cities, are often guilty of charging over the odds for those sought after gems. A thriftier, albeit far more time consuming approach, is to sift through the boxes and racks curated by less fashion-aware charity shop volunteers for that classic jacket or bargain pair of boots.
Try Local Sustainable Brands
With increasing awareness around sustainability, circular economy and fair trade there are more and more clothing brands committed to sustainable production. Sustainable brands tend to produce high quality clothing, extending the time needed between buying an item and replacing it. The Fair Cottage is lucky enough to be based in the same city as the biannual Ethical Fashion Show Berlin, which showcases the latest in sustainable and durable textile technology.
Many sustainable brands use recycled fabric while others focus on non-toxic and/or biodegradable materials. If you are a resident or tourist in Berlin you can join a Green Fashion Tour, which will navigate you through some of the city’s top emerging sustainable fashion brands and their methods.
More often than not, sustainable brands are committed to fair working conditions as well as other ethical standards. Of course, it is best to do your own research to be sure a brand’s values fit with you own.
Thankfully, to make it easier, The Fair Cottage is in the process of building a transparency platform for all brands that we recommend via our blog, or products that we will sell via our ethical online shop, due for launch in 2019.
Repair Before Replacing
It’s a modern paradox that so many people pour money into the four inch holes of pre-ripped jeans while others throw theirs away at the slightest hint of a tear. Rather than replace, why not repair (or rip if that’s your style) your own clothes and keep things for longer.
If you are particularly particular about your appearance or perhaps don’t have the time to get out the needle and thread, then why not try out your local tailor? it will likely be cheaper than buying a brand new item and you’ll be putting money back into your local economy.
There are also many brands, such as Sweden’s Houdini, that provide lifelong professional repair services, extending the life of garments as far as possible and completely rejecting the idea of fast fashion.
Embrace Fashion Mindfulness
Retail therapy is perhaps one of the only therapies that yields no lasting benefits. If you feel driven toward instant gratification via cheap clothing, it’s best to resist the urge. Being mindful of fashion’s consequences rather than fashion conscience is far more rewarding in the long term. Then there is the heaps of cash you will save along the way.
I find the easiest way of abstaining is to simply avoid the stores of big high street brands, whose mass production methods and records on transparency, working conditions and green washing conflict with my own personal values. Besides, there are much better things to do with your free time than to slog through shopping malls. And once you have your own timeless style sorted, you will find you have a lot more of it.
I can honestly say, ever since I made the switch and started embracing fashion mindfulness, I feel a lot better about myself. That sense of completeness I once sought through endless shopping is no longer fleeting. It is an enduring feeling, achieved through the alignment of values and actions, that wells up from within.
Do you know about a slow fashion solution that we haven’t mentioned? We appeal to any reader who can help grow the The Fair Cottage project and our conscious network with insights or info. Please leave your feedback in the comments section, on our instagram channel or write us an email.