We need to change our shopping habits if we truly want to make fashion sustainable. Instead of throwing old clothing away, we need to recycle and reuse them.
The idea is simple, yet it makes a huge difference in the grand scheme of the global fashion industry. Due to the fact that it reduces the high demand for fast fashion and new products being produced and purchased. This in turn helps the environment by producing less waste.
The damaging ecological influence of fast fashion is indisputable. The apparel industry is the 2nd largest contaminating sector (after oil), sending out a monstrous 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon yearly worldwide. The footprint of each garment continues way past its conception, every wash adds microfibres right into our seas, equating to around half a million tonnes each year. This is in addition to the ridiculously massive quantity of water required for fabric manufacturing.
As if the above isn’t significantly damaging enough for the environment, we also need to think about the lack of durability of fast fashion garments. In the UK alone hundreds of tonnes of garments are thrown out every year, with 80% of it winding up in landfills where it can take up to 200 years to break down.
So what are our options?
Well, one option is to buy second-hand or vintage clothing. Vintage shopping is nothing new. People in the UK have been purchasing products from vintage stores and charity shops for as long as I can remember. Purchasing from charity shops means you can create new stories for old garments and at the same time donate a little money to charity which is a big win-win. Purchasing from vintage shops can become a whole lifestyle choice in itself, with cool shops to explore in the coolest towns and cities worldwide. In London, you can spend hours perusing the Brick Lane area second-hand boutiques with stores like Rokit which claims to have recycled over a million tonnes of discarded clothing and accessories over the past thirty years. The North Laines in Brighton has a wealth of history and culture of being a second-hand district. Streets are packed with shoppers browsing the vintage stores around Sydney Street and Kensington Gardens. Or you can delve into the world of Afflecks in Manchester’s Northern Quarter which describes itself as an emporium of eclecticism.
Online vintage customers are often scouring Etsy and eBay for unique bargains. In recent years the digital cultural phenomenon known as Depop has really got a new generation interested in vintage fashion with over 9 million users registered on its app. Products are reasonably priced, classing fashion items as vintage if they are over 20 years old. TikTok users are finding trends that then manifest into purchases on Depop, where 90 percent of users are Gen Z.
Depop was founded by Simon Beckerman in 2011 as a social media network where readers of the Italian fashion and music magazine PIG, could purchase items from the young creatives included in the magazine. After understanding that Depop required a selling function, Simon re-envisioned the app as a marketplace where you can see what your friends and influencers are liking, buying, and selling.