I have always been interested in fashion considering “retail therapy” is a real thing for me and has been for pretty much my entire life. However, it wasn’t until I watched the documentary, “The True Cost” on Netflix that I truly began to understand the reality we are living in when it comes to the big department stores and the low cost we are paying for discounted clothing. This documentary was brought to my attention by Arden Rose who is a popular You Tuber and author. Arden’s video regarding this topic has been taken down probably because You Tube is constantly demonetizing creator’s content. However, the fact that this one was taken down shocked me because I always thought a video would be demonetized if it featured content that didn’t stand up to You Tube’s code of ethics. She was not being offensive in any shape or form, but perhaps it was just too much for people to come to their senses and fully understand that the way they have been shopping for decades is wrong. I strongly suggest anyone who is interested in watching the documentary themselves to check it out because it is quite an eye opener and even if it doesn’t stop you from shopping the big department stores, it will give you a better idea of where those items come from and will encourage you to shop smarter.
To summarize the parts of the documentary, it mainly draws attention to “fast fashion” which is a contemporary term for the rapid speed in which clothes are being designed, marketed and mass produced to satisfy the current trends that come and go each season. Because of fast fashion stores are outsourcing to other countries to produce their clothing for a lower and lower cost thus creating this globalized production. While it seems like a good idea to give jobs to these third world countries it could be causing more harm than good because of the need for garment factories to produce for a cheaper price. These factories then have to cut corners to stay afloat because they are constantly competing with other factories in other parts of the world. When they cut corners it causes major issues when it comes to worker’s safety including ignoring building codes and paying lower wages. Of course this isn’t the first time the world has become aware of this because America has outsourced to China and other parts of Asia for decades, but it is becoming more and more detrimental and I can argue that this delicate system is not working and hasn’t been working for a long time. We are becoming ignorant to the reality of this industry because no one wants to really listen to things they have been wrong about for so long. I can admit that I have totally bought into the process as probably so many of us can say, but now that we have a little more knowledge about the way this industry is profiting off of cheap manufacturing and our weakness to lower prices, I think it is time for a smarter solution.
One way we can combat fast fashion is that we can smart shopper by supporting the idea of sustainable fashion which I have been promoting for a while and strongly recommend. Sustainable fashion revolves around the goal to create a system in which people are aware of their impact on the environment and social responsibility when they buy into the cheaper manufactured clothing. Because of the low quality and the low price, it is easy to just throw away clothes that are either out of style or broken because they don’t mean anything to us because we didn’t have to spend as much money on them, however you would be surprised just how many clothes we simply throw away that end up in landfills because of this way of buying clothing. So, a solution to this problem that seems hard to accept in theory but is good for the environment in general is to just buy investment pieces. Clothing is often more expensive because it is made better. Of course that isn’t always the case, but listed are some brands I stand behind that are known for their sustainable fashion.
- Alternative Apparel
- Amour Vert
- Conscious Collection by H&M
- DL 1961
- Eileen Fisher
- Threads 4 Thought
- Tribe Alive
Those are only 11 but I encourage you to do your own research on more brands that are encouraging the idea of sustainable fashion.
My next solution is my favorite because I am an active participant in this industry and I am proud of the companies I have worked for that support the ideals behind sustainable fashion and are constantly working to offer an alternative to the department stores at even better prices. I am talking about buy, sell, trade companies that offer customers money or credit for their gently used clothing that correspond with current trends and seasons and clothes are sold at amazing prices. It is an alternative that most of us can stand behind because unlike a thrift store, items are brought in selectively to create an environment that focuses on style and customer’s wants and needs while recycling fashion that is being resold instead of ending up in a landfill. Depending on where you are in the world, I listed a few stores that have a similar concept in terms of recycled fashion.
- Crossroads Trading Company
- Plato’s Closet
- Buffalo Exchange
- Uptown Cheapskate
Apps that also focus on recycled fashion include DePop and ThredUp which you can download on your phone and shop for looks that way. However, I strongly advise shopping for this type of clothing in person because you really never know what you are going to get on the internet, people can be very tricky with pictures.
I hope I was able to shed some light on an ongoing issue that is constantly hurting the global economy and the environment and if I was able to inform you about this topic at all or encourage you to think a little bit more the next time you go shopping than I would feel like I did something good here. Thank you for reading and please check out your local buy, sell, trade store they are the best (I know I am biased, but it’s the truth). Happy shopping everyone!