Hardships of avoiding fast fashion

Kristen Bolash, Entertainment Editor

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The fast fashion industry is arguably one of the most dangerous worldwide. After learning about this through documentaries, editorials and documents, I decided to stop purchasing from these companies. Luckily for me, this wasn’t much of a change as I thought it would be. My mom and I have been thrift shopping for fun since before it was a common hobby, and I’m not someone who particularly likes to shop anyway. But through the months of not buying as much clothing as I once had, and only buying at certain stores or second hand, I’ve noticed some hardships that came my way.

The first and most obvious is that I can’t love a piece of clothing and go to the mall and buy it the next day. Always on Instagram I see outfits that are cute but the tagged stores are always chained brands that produce with sweatshop labor or other unethical ways. There was even a time when I found a shirt on an Instagram model I liked… but, unfortunately, the company store the artwork from an independent artist, which meant I couldn’t buy it unless the artist sold it themselves. In thrift stores you can search for an item similar, but it’s impossible to find a piece that’s the exact from the brand you originally saw it from.

Going along with the last statement, you can’t thrift on a list of clothing you want to buy that day. Saying you’re going to buy a red knit sweater, high waisted blue jeans and black boots is one thing, but finding each piece in your size, on the same day, in the same thrift store is another. Luckily in our area we do have a few thrift stores, but you are never guaranteed to find anything. You never know what you’ll find, which makes shopping for clothes hard, but it can also make it more entertaining.

Of course, there are items I’m not comfortable with spending a ton of money on or buying secondhand.

Jr. Kaitlyn Myers also feels the struggle of buying from humane brands only, explaining, “One way to help stop he sweatshop issue is to buy durable clothing and speak out against inhuman companies. Also, shop at local boutiques and you’ll support local businesses too! So times it gets too expensive, then I recommend going to a Salvation Army. They have some cute stuff there. Lastly, DO. YOUR. RESEARCH.”

Some of the more awkward situations I’ve been in are when I’m sitting with friends and a discussion about clothes or shopping comes up, and everyone awkwardly glances at me as if I’m going to get offended about them shopping at fast fashion stores. Truthfully, I don’t care where you shop. I don’t judge anyone for shopping at Forever 21 just because I don’t. It’s even more awkward in the mall and being with someone who clearly wants to go shop in a store I don’t support. Even though I don’t want to spend money there doesn’t mean I wont look around or windowshop. It makes it more awkward for me when it’s the elephant in the room.

Along with it, and maybe it’s just me overthinking, but I feel like my friends don’t want to invite me to the mall because I don’t want to shop in those stores. Again, ’m completely fine just hanging out with friends and looking at the clothing, and I love stores in Capital City mall that aren’t clothing. I’m passionate about not buying fast fashion, but realistically I can’t expect everyone in my life to change because I did so. I don’t judge anyone based on what or where they buy.

Lastly, one of the smallest but biggest change I’ve noticed is the media I view and the advertisements I receive.  I wouldn’t call it a struggle, but before I would watch Fashion Haul after Haul on youtube for an hour or more. I don’t watch them anymore knowing I can’t buy them. I know everyone can relate to barely clicking on something and remembering why you don’t want to. Why would I view something if I don’t support it? It was a weird transition for me.

All in all, the small struggles I have faced so far in shopping cruelty free have been well worth it. I’m proud of my progress, and I hope speaking out about the problem with sweatshops can inspire one person to shop local, buy quality, or at thrift shops.