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Primark, Zara, H&M or pricey brands? Does it even matter?

Expensive brands equals quality, cheap ones represent poor quality. Lifetime of expensive stuff is longer, cheap ones only last a season or two. We pollute the Earth with affordable products but not with expensive ones. But is this really the truth?

There’s another topic that came into perspective along with Greta and climate change, and that’s sustainability.

That’s because it is inevitably related to them. We have to live more sustainable lives if we want to take better care of our planet. Use a cotton bag instead of plastic one when you buy groceries, use a public transport instead of your own car for short distances, eat less meat … Doing things that seem small but have a great impact on the planet.

And along with that comes the suggestion of buying less fast fashion as well.

But we need to ask ourselves: is fast fashion the real issue in terms of polluting the Earth or does the real problem lie in our buying habits?

Adopt more sustainable way of shopping

The biggest problem with fast fashion may be the fact that people buy things they don’t really need and then throw them away even if they’re perfectly fine. That aside, the main advantage of fast fashion is accessibility.

You can go to Zara and find a perfectly fine suit, go to the meeting and leave a really good first impression because you presented yourself in the right way.

But what you do with that suit afterwards is what truly matters. Did you buy it just for one occasion and you want to dispose it after? Or will you wear over and over again, and value it — even if it costed you just 70 euros? It’s all about the attitude. It’s all about choosing the right thing in the first place. Think twice before you buy something new.

What would be the most sustainable way of shopping? Follow these guidelines:

  • Only buy things if/when you need them.
  • Do a research: which brand has the best piece for your budget?
  • Will it go with the most of your existing wardrobe?
  • Will you wear it for many years?
  • Sleep on it. Don’t buy it right away but rather go home (or leave it in your shopping basket if buying online) and think it through. If you still think about it the next day and you have plenty of ideas on how you would wear it, then it’s meant to be.
  • Lastly: does it make you happy when you look at it?

Maintain your wardrobe with TLC

However, it doesn’t stop there. Change your habits about maintenance, too. How do you take care of your clothes? Do you just throw them in the washer then dryer and that’s it? Do you throw it away if it’s torn? No. It shouldn’t be just that. Stella McCartney recently stated that you shouldn’t wash your clothes too often if you want them to last longer. Hand wash them if you can and air dry them. Let the seamstress take care of what’s torn, let her alter your dresses so they fit you better! Btw, do you know the trick on how to remove the fuzz from your knitted pieces? Shave them with a razor, but carefully. Do it in short but soft strokes. Learn how to take care of your favorite pieces — google it, ask your mother, seamstress, etc.

You need to start treating your clothes differently, with TLC. It doesn’t matter if it’s a skirt from Primark or a blazer with a Givenchy label on it. What matters is your attitude towards things you own. Hence you need to start buying clothes you know from the start you will treat with respect.

What about modern slavery in fashion?

Ok, but what about the second real issue (first being the pollution) that lies in the fashion industry — the modern slavery, the exploitation of workers, especially in Asia, where they are paid peanuts and treated really badly on top of it?

The Guardian recently exposed famous Canadian athleisure brand on physical violence and regular humiliation of their female workers in Bangladesh factory. And that is a brand that sells it’s clothes with a high price tag! So we can no longer say that only fast fashion and cheap brands make their clothes in Asia and other countries with low production costs.

This reminds me of Gomorrah. Have you read this book? The part about fashion industry is mind blowing. How even luxury brands make their “couture” from the hands of exploited tailors, who don’t even know for whom they are sewing — they just get an order to do it. Then they see their white pantsuit on Angelina Jolie on her way to the Oscars and even take credit for it.

Do we have blood on our hands every day?

This brings me to the conclusion that almost everything we own comes from a form of exploitation. Your smart phone and other electronic devices have lithium-ion rechargeable batteries made from cobalt which comes from the Congo mines where children as young as six are among those risking their lives amid toxic dust to mine cobalt.

Should we therefore stop buying that kind of products, for which we are pretty sure are a product of modern slavery? Do we have blood on our hands every day? The short answer would be YES. The longer is more complicated. But let me stick to the main topic of this article — fashion.

You can do so much to not support dirty fashion industry and just be the part of pretty one. Support your local fashion designers, talk to them about how they make their clothes. If you fall in love with a piece that has fast fashion tag on it, don’t buy it for just one occasion, buy it mindfully. Take care of your wardrobe and wear your clothes with love. Because if we don’t and we keep maintaining our destructive habits, the real luxury will soon be the air we breath and the water we drink.

This story was originally published 

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