How Ethical is your On-line Clothes Shopping?

SOPHIA CORNESS-PARR urges us to slow down the rate of fast fashion.

With Black Friday we, as consumers, are bombarded with sales, discounts and more incentives to spend our money. Although this is an annual event, online retailers are undoubtedly going to receive higher demand this year because of lockdown restrictions. Alongside the giddiness we feel getting a good bargain, an added element of lockdown-induced boredom may convince more people to part with their money. With more website traffic generated and an increase in sales, fast fashion brands reap the rewards from Black Friday shoppers, at the cost of our environment.

Fashion footprint fails


When clicking ‘buy now’ on your favourite fashion retailer’s website, it would be far-fetched to assume that you are simultaneously considering the water consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, textile waste and chemical composition of the item(s) you have just bought. Singularly, our environmental footprint doesn’t seem like a matter worth considering but with 300,000 tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill in 2018 alone, this issue is becoming ever more pressing. This year, fashion brands have especially come under siege regarding the ethical treatment of their employees and the questionable coronavirus safety measures in production factories. Bearing all of this in mind, it would be reasonable to suggest that some people may be looking to adjust their shopping habits.

Opt for Depop


Personally, I have been making an effort to alter my own perspective on fashion and steer away from both unnecessary and impulsive buying (with more success at times than others). One of the main ways I shop for clothing is on the second-hand buying and selling app Depop. Purchasing pre-owned clothes via the app reduces the environmental impact of the consumer whilst supporting independent sellers rather than huge commercial brands. As well as this, clothes are often cheaper to buy because they’re not brand new, or no longer wanted.

This being said, inevitably the average person is not going to purchase entirely second-hand, but there are other ways in which we can conscientiously shop. Firstly, question how much you ‘need’ the item, do you already own something similar? Also, think about how much wear you will be able to get out of the item and whether you can pair it with clothing pieces you already own. Visualising what you already have will help determine if the clothing in question will be something you can wear frequently. As well as this, separating the price from the garment is helpful - just because something is cheap doesn’t automatically mean you need it! I think also having an idea of what you’re looking for is useful because in narrowing the field of search, you are able to shop more deliberately and with intention.

Pre-owned is the new ‘new’!

Last week I asked my Instagram followers whether they were intending to buy clothes online during the Black Friday sales and of those who answered the poll, it was roughly half. I do think that with a heightened awareness of fast fashion now, consumers are more conscious about where they spend their money which is promising for the future. As well as this, responsibility lies on brands themselves to make ethical and sustainable choices. The rate at which fashion is presented as disposable is quite alarming. The bulk of new clothes added to ‘new in’ sections on retailers’ websites daily is so vast that the notion of ‘newness’ seems to be constantly reinvented. Take ASOS for example - there are currently approximately 2,000 new pieces of clothing on their ‘Women’s New In’ section. Do these items become dated when newer ones replace the top of the list? Ideologically, we are falsely convinced that what is newer is better.

Shop responsibly and avoid mindless consumption


With a larger effort to shop more responsibly, and with intention, means that fashion can be enjoyed whilst minimising environmental and ethical impacts. If you don’t normally shop second hand, I’d really suggest you explore it. Finding pieces you love without the guilt of fuelling the fast fashion industry is definitely a rewarding feeling! On Black Friday, and beyond, let’s avoid mindless consumption and scrutinise our own on-line purchases in an effort to make conscious change.

Sources https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jun/21/fast-fashion-is-on-the-rampage-with-uk-at-the-head-of-the-charge



Written by Sophia Corness-Parr