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What Every Fashionista Needs To Know About Her Favorite Brands

By: Nafisa Ismail

Okay, so I’ll admit this isn’t the typical fashion article about what the new trends are and where you can score the best deals, but don’t stop reading just yet.

Fast fashion. The overwhelming majority of people I ask have no clue what it is. To be honest, if you had asked me the same question a year and a half ago, I likely would have given you a similar response. 

For most people, finding a cute, $5 shirt is a shopping victory — even though it won’t be in style next week. But, the cost of your $5 shirt doesn’t reflect the social and environmental costs to the global community. Fast fashion is when companies sell cheap clothes which are designed to quickly go out of style and have to be replaced. The fast fashion industry exploits women and children in developing countries, forcing them to work in unsanitary and dangerous conditions for low pay. It is also detrimental to our planet; cotton production countries are already facing water shortages, and tons of clothing are sent to landfills each year. 

For years, fashion has been a passion of mine; growing up I followed fashion blogs on social media and was amazed by how style can be a form of self expression. As someone who is interested in fashion and style, this issue is particularly important to me. I do not want to live in a world where my passion for style conflicts with my morals. 

So what does this mean for us fashion loving girls? Well, the good news is that it doesn’t mean you have to stop shopping all together. Instead of opting for your go-to stores like Forever 21 or H&M, try shopping at brands such as Reformation, or Everlane. Sure, shopping ethically comes at a much higher cost, but think of it this way: instead of buying new, cheap clothes every couple of months, buying long-lasting, sustainably sourced clothes from brands who offer their employees fair wages and clean working environments, is a much better investment. Spend more, buy less. Here are a few eco-friendly brands:

Alternative Apparel
Madia & Matilda
Armed Angels
Threads for Thought

As a teenager and student though, I know how expensive these brands can be and how unfeasible and inconvenient shopping ethically can get. Not to worry! There are plenty of ways to be support sustainable fashion on a budget and here are just a few:

1. Thrifting and Second-Hand Shopping
One way to stop feeding into the dangerous cycle of fast fashion is to pay a visit to your local thrift store. Instead of buying new clothes, try buying second-hand more often. Nowadays, there are even online thrift stores. Each year our unwanted clothes end up in landfills. If more people shop second-hand, this means less textile waste! Thrift stores are super affordable and a great place to find unique pieces. Borrowing or swapping clothes are also great alternatives along with shopping used items from places such as Roshmark, Relove, or eBay.

2.Upcycling or DIY-ing
The next time you tear a hole in your favorite jeans or shirt, don’t discard it just yet! Instead, turn your jeans into a denim skirt, or turn that old shirt into a couple of scrunchies! You want to be able to keep what you already have for as long as possible. DIY fashion is one of my favorite things because it allows you to use what you already have and make it new again. There are tons of easy DIY and upcycling projects online and the best part is that you don’t have to know how to sew to do a lot of them. I have a few on my website (https://www.simplysustainable.club/) if you’d like to check them out!

3. Support Local Artisans
One of the best ways you can support sustainable fashion is to support local artisans. Especially during the Chicago summertime, there are several flea markets that showcase local jewelry makers who hand make their pieces. By buying from these artisans, you are supporting the hard work they put in to making their pieces and making sure they are paid fairly. If there aren’t any flea markets in the area, consider shopping through places such as Etsy!

Something I often like to reference is the “Buyerarchy of Needs”: First, use what you have, borrow, swap, thrift, make, and then buy. These steps may seem small, but they truly do make a difference. The best thing you could do though, is get educated and educate those around you.

About the author: Hi everyone! My name is Nafisa and I’m from Chicago. I’m currently a junior in high school and my biggest passions, although I have a lot, are fashion, photography, and feminism! I adore my city a little too much, take wayyy too many pictures and love putting together fashion DIYs (and messing up on them too). I also have an ethical fashion blog which you can follow along on Instagram (@_simplysustainable) and https://www.simplysustainable.club/. 

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