The culture of trend shopping is damaging. Not only does it perpetuate inequalities within society but is extremely detrimental to our planet and those working along supply chains. If COVID-19 has highlighted anything, it is that as consumers we have become more conscious of what we buy, as we are faced with a change in our everyday priorities and lifestyles. Only shopping for essentials has shown us that prioritising needs over wants for the first time in decades is actually not that difficult. However, the fact that it’s taken a global pandemic to highlight this, only shows the importance of this message: trend culture is harmful to people and the planet.
With that in mind, when the high street begins to open back up, I’m sure the summer ‘trends’ and the now ‘on sale’ spring ones, will be the first that many look for. And why shouldn’t they after living through a global pandemic?
Yet, the alarming news stories seen about the lack of safety measures in place for factory workers in Bangladesh, a country currently in lockdown, but with workers still producing your clothes, or the cancellation of clothing orders, leaving many cotton farmers with excess and spoiling crops, are just two recent injustices caused by the pandemic that make you question whether your new summer dress, is really worth the price it has cost to those involved in its production.
Whilst I feel that the need for change has been highlighted by the current crisis (COVID-19), I know that change to the fashion industry will not come about overnight, unless through cooperation of everyone (brands, companies, consumers, governments) involved.
Therefore, here are small changes you can make to take a more sustainable approach to trend shopping now and in the future until changes are made to the current fashion industry.
Discover your own personal style
My first piece of advice would be to explore your own personal style. Finding what you love and what empowers you is the first step. This way when everyone you know is obsessed with wearing cycling shorts, or bucket hats, instead of feeling implored to buy one because its ‘cool’, you make a decision based on its long-term wearability, and whether this item will bring you joy and confidence. Ask yourself, does the item in question fit perfectly with your personal style, and will you wear this item throughout the years to come?
Know your brands
Not all high street stores are unsustainable. The beauty of sustainable fashion is in its multi-dimensional definition, that attracts support from a range of organisations and causes. Whether you prioritise environmental, economic or social factors, the good news is so to do many brands. Maybe before clicking checkout whilst online shopping, take a look at a brands sustainability pledge, usually found at the bottom of their website. Are they committed to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (UK), are there supply chains transparent? Make informed and confident decisions about purchases.
Shop sustainable alternatives
Of course, if you are simple in love with a trend, my one main piece of advice would be to source a sustainable alternative. Maybe flared jeans are making a comeback, and before you hit the high street, check out vintage, charity shops, Depop or independent brands to see if they have any. Here’s a list of sustainable fashion brands you could also check out. They most likely do, and whatever you choose will be guaranteed to be extra special (not just because they are one-offs or limited stock) but because you made a conscious decision to shop sustainably.
Life will soon be returning back to normal, but isn’t it time we changed what normal looks like?