As a pre-teen in the early days of Youtube, I was obsessed with fashion hauls, black Friday hauls, What I Got For Christmas videos, anything that pertained to shopping! YouTubers shared their hauls from stores like Forever 21, H&M, Zara, Windsor, and more. As the YouTube industry grew, brands began sending YouTubers free clothing in exchange for marketing or reviews; thus exposing hundreds of millions of people, many of whom are young and impressionable, to fast fashion brands.
When I was a sophomore in college I landed an internship with CollegeFashionista as a fashion writer. A few of us were selected to receive some clothing pieces from Boohoo and you would not believe my excitement! I felt so special being chosen to receive free clothing and all I had to do was post a few photos in the pieces. I of course chose my free outfits, without even considering the cost it truly had on not only the environment, also the person, who was most likely another woman, who made the garment. That was about five years. Just as recently as July 2020, Boohoo co-founder Mahmut Kamani admitted himself that their workers are paid less than minimum wage.
During the second semester of my sophomore year I took a fashion & culture course. In one of our classes we watched the documentary The True Cost. This exposed how fast fashion companies export the majority of their production to third world countries and sweat shops, where it is mainly women making the clothes in unimaginable conditions for unlivable pay. It also revealed how the industry is the second most environmentally destructive industry. It showed clips of YouTube videos of popular YouTuber’s hauls, and how they promote fast fashion companies that engage in terrible labor practices. The documentary left me not only shocked, but heart broken.
We all want cute pieces for a great deal, I’m with you. But once I saw what the real impact of buying something amazing at Zara was on other people, other women, it felt better knowing I was not voting for this continue with my dollar. Which essentially is what we do when we shop. Wherever we shop or whatever we buy is your vote for that business, item, and even the practices that the business ensues.
I found my opportunity to share not only my love of fashion, but promote more sustainable shopping practices through SCend It In! With my service I have helped save hundreds of pounds of clothing from landfills that students otherwise may have thrown away. I have also helped them earn some extra money through my service.
I’m not claiming to be 100% sustainable, because I certainly am not. It also seems nearly impossible to be completely sustainable, but we can make a conscious effort where we can, and that’s what I would encourage others to do. Though I would never shame anyone who still buys fast fashion, I do the same here and there, because none of us are perfect. We are all doing the best we can to make a positive impact on the world.
Though this post was not meant to be an educational one, I would like to share the ThredUp 2020 Fashion Resale Market and Trend Report. ThredUp does a great job digging into the direction the industry is heading and the impact buying secondhand has.
What are your thoughts on fast fashion?
Why do you shop secondhand? Is it to try to be more sustainable or does it not matter to search for out of season trends?
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