(ENG only) I remember very vividly and clearly the day I decided that me and fast fashion were going to be two worlds apart from that moment on. It was a cold day of September 2015 in Tallinn, Estonia and I was sitting in my small studio apartment watching a documentary I’ve heard about before and that would change me as a consumer and person forever: The True Cost.
(Image by https://truecostmovie.com )
For the entire duration of the movie, I was shocked. Immensely sad as I was slowly realizing what the fashion industry and especially the fast fashion one really is about. I cried lots of tears as I was listening to the facts the movie was illustrating through its impactful footage. When the movie was over, it all hit me really hard. I was part of the problem. And I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I walked to my small wardrobe and took a peak inside. A good part of the clothes I owned at the time came from H&M. Even though I started buying second hand years before, H&M was the shop I was making most of my purchases from. I felt like a hypocrite. I knew that I couldn’t keep on going on with my life pretending that this movie never happened, that these facts never happened. That Rana Plaza, the consumeristic craze of Black Friday, the poor, unsafe and underpaid working conditions of the garment workers and the unsustainable, toxic and polluting practices of fast fashion production cycles never happened.
So right there on that day, I made my decision. I did not want to support fast fashion anymore and purchase anything from any of its brands and stores again. From that moment on, my wardrobe was going to be made out of second hand and/or ethical and sustainable items.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it was peaches. It was not. For being someone who was used to simply walk into an H&M store and easily find a style and size that I wanted, it wasn’t easy to get used to it. More often than rarely a cheap price was enough to justify the purchase of something I wasn’t completely sure of. Shifting from being a mindless shopping girl to being someone with a purpose behind her wallet and her wardrobe required adjustment. But eventually, I got used to it. Like any major change, it was scary and it felt like a big challenge that I wasn’t sure I could accomplish. But I was ready for it. That was the same month when I decided to start Project 333 capsule wardrobes too. I was moving my first steps into minimalism. Slowly I was trying to make positive changes in my life. I was changing, my spending habits were changing, my life was changing. So with the time, I learned to “buy less, choose well, make it last”. I learned to buy things I absolutely needed and or/liked and knew I was going to get a good use out of. I learned to treat my clothes better, take care of them to make them last longer and to repair them to extend their life. I learned more about my style and was able to become a better shopper. It all required adjustment and a change of mindset.
Sometimes it is still hard. The second hand market doesn’t always offer what I’m looking for and sometimes neither does the ethical or sustainable clothes market. Sometimes I might find what I’m looking for but it is too expensive and I am not ready or willing to invest into it. Sometimes I can simply make a list of priorities and choose the best option according to those priorities. I try to make my best every day as a consumer and as a person every day and I want my choices to reflect this.
I am certainly not perfect, but I never forgot about that decision that I took 3 years ago of boycotting H&M Zara Primark Mango Berschka etc. It is not possible all the time for me to exclusively purchase second hand or ethical and sustainable, but I never went back into any of those stores and I try to make the best choice that I can. I also am lucky enough to live in a city like Berlin, where the second hand market is abundant and the ethical and sustainable options are easy to find.
Now, I’m not here to preach or anything. Each one of us makes decisions according to our personal situations and lives. I did mine. I am not asking you to make the exact same thing I did if you don’t feel like it. But since Black Friday is tomorrow and the holiday season is getting closer, I kindly invite you and encourage you to be a bit more mindful and aware of what is going on in the fashion industry. Clothes are treated as something disposable, meant to be worn only once or twice before we get tired of them or before they fall apart because of their poor quality and we purchase something new. It’s time for a change.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to make Black Friday and this upcoming Christmas holidays more mindful and ethical, here are some links that might be helpful for you.
- the documentary “The True Cost” . It’s available on Netflix worldwide, I promise you won’t regret watching it and it will make you think a bit more about your relationship with fashion and clothes. It is mind-blowing and extremely eye opening. Plus if you browse on their website you will be able to find more useful information, articles, interviews and links.
- the Fashion Revolution website, an amazing online movement meant to spread awareness around the issues that the whole fast fashion industry causes. (The internet is packed with useful data and info about fast fashion, what it is and how it operates, so if you want to get into it a little deeper, you have no excuse.)
- the book “Overdressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion“, by Elizabeth Cline.
- my blog post about how to create a more sustainable wardrobe on a budget . There are many tips to help you create a curated, more ethical wardrobe without breaking your wallet
- my video about the benefits of a no spend challenge
- my video about things to do instead of going shopping
- my blog post about Black Friday and how to be more conscious during holiday season .
- my video about simple tips for a more sustainable and eco friendly Christmas
And remember that “it’s not a good deal if you don’t need it”.