You walk into Forever 21, H&M and Zara and look with delight at the brand new, trendy pieces in shop. Plus, at such cheap prices, what could there possibly be to complain about?
If you care about the environment at all, you could complain about that. The fashion industry is the second most harmful industry to the environment, behind the oil industry.
Between textile manufacturing, the materials used, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and the ultimate disposal of the garment, environmental harm is a very real effect of the fashion industry.
“Fast fashion” has a lot to do with this. Fast fashion consists of brands that constantly produce clothing for cheap prices, thus sacrificing the quality of product and the way that it is made, while selling this product for low prices.
As a college student, I see the allure of these items. It is not fair to expect college students to be able to afford designer pieces.
These fast fashion brands program us to constantly desire new items. When Forever 21 is able to stay up-to-date on trends on a weekly basis, we will keep going back to purchase new, trendy pieces.
However, in order to make copious product and keep price points low, the quality of the items suffer. When you buy a $15 shirt from Forever 21, you won’t feel as guilty buying a new one the next month when you tear a hole in the sleeve.
This constant desire to buy more product leads to frequent purchasing. When we run out of space in our closets, we throw away these pieces.
Typically, fast fashion brands make their clothing with harsh chemicals and dyes that soak into the grounds of landfills, harming the environment.
How can we change this vicious cycle?
Reformation holds the production of all of their clothing to sustainability standards. While price points are high, organic materials and manufacturing that does not emit harmful chemicals make up for the price.
Pieces made with sustainable methods will last years and are worth the investment. Reformation’s pieces all have a timeless style. Classic colors, delicate, but basic styles and high quality fabrics grace their inventory.
Patagonia is another sustainable fashion brand to keep an eye on. The outerwear brand encourages customers to only purchase their product if they absolutely need it.
Taking a risk with their branding campaigns, Patagonia encourages only purchasing a jacket from them, if you need a new jacket. They beg for the end of constant consumption of material possessions — especially unnecessary possessions.
Their product is made with high quality materials and through environmentally friendly practices, so you know that investing in their product will be worth your dollar.
While most brands would want to make as many sales as possible, Reformation and Patagonia see the importance and necessity of selling product that will make a positive imprint on the deteriorating environment.
Brands like these have led me to reevaluate the clothing that I purchase, and my own spending habits.
While I understand that spending $90 for a pair of pants is not always realistic, I do believe that it is important to consider investing rather than binge buying.
You might feel savvy for buying five shirts at H&M for the price of one at Reformation, but that top from the sustainable brand will likely last longer than every single piece from H&M.
Investing in pieces that are timeless is not only sustainable and sensible, but it can also lead to an even deeper appreciation for one’s possessions. There is something beautiful to having a capsule collection that will last you years.
Fashion is a beautiful thing. Personally, I have always loved being able to express myself through my personal style. I view fashion as a form of art, as it truly is.
However, when that art interferes with our environment and future generations, we know that changes have to be made.
Quality, sustainable clothing is worth investing in. It is a lifestyle change, but it is necessary in this current world climate.
Often we preach about the necessity of combatting damage to the environment. But it is too easy to think that there is not much that one person can do. This is something that everyone can take part in. We have the opportunity to start a movement of positive change.