Why choose sustainable shopping?

Artwork showing the Shein logo with a red X beside it, and the text: Shop second-hand CREDIT: NINA HEPPLEWHITE
It's not a great feeling to know that shopping with stores like Shein is causing more harm than good.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been tempted to shop at fast fashion stores before. With all of the options that are so easily accessible to us, how could we not? Personally, I’ve fallen into the trap of shopping at fast fashion stores because of the option to dress according to the trends at an affordable price. As the spring season is on the rise, closet clean outs are increasing. For me, this was the perfect opportunity to take a serious look at what I spent my money on and if it was worth it.

I’ve shopped for apparel in wellknown stores such as Shein, Zara, and Aritzia in the past. Knowing what I know now, this isn’t something that I am happy about. Whilst Shein has its attractive trendy clothing styles for a low cost, many have experienced poor quality clothing (which can be expected with its cost) from this online brand. Digging into Shein even further, we find that they use harmful materials that take a long time to decompose, and the workers’ wages are ridiculously low, causing exploitation.

This was one of my main factors for building a “sustainable capsule closet” (a small collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways and includes everything you would normally need to wear). It’s not a great feeling to know that shopping with stores like Shein is causing more harm than good.

Listen live on 1069TheX.com

Additionally, I love Zara and Aritzia just as much as the next person. However, I’ve noticed that some of my pieces from both of these stores haven’t lasted as long as I would have hoped. Zara’s and Aritzia’s prices higher than Shein, but they are convenient due to the storefronts in various locations, where you can see the product in person and try it on. However, when cleaning out my closet this year, I have noticed that some pieces have stayed between good-to-OK condition whilst others have not maintained good quality at all. There are other stores that are similar to these two that sell average quality clothing for prices much higher than what they are valued at. It’s easy to think that because the price is high that the quality must be as well. However, this is not always the case.

Identifying that I can invest in good quality clothing staples and still create the fashion appearance that I want has been an insightful experience. As a college student myself has also reminded me that a capsule closet isn’t something that is always built over night. Take your time with your pieces and feel confident in the material and style of clothing that you are considering purchasing. If you really stop to think about it, you will realize that the same amount you spend on multiple pieces which you are more than likely going to throw away a few months later, is the same amount for maybe one piece that will last you years.

As I am still on my journey of creating my own capsule closet, I have researched a few brands that interest me. These include ABLE, Boody, Frank and Oat, and Matt & Nat. If you’re interested in shopping sustainably but can’t afford the prices of the stores that offer this, another option is to research thrift stores in your town that offer sustainable pieces. For example, in London we have Filthy Rebena Vintage which offers sustainable items.

There are lots of ways to shop sustainably, you just need to research it and find what’s best for you. Prioritize your clothing choices and think smartly before making a purchase in the mall.