There's a strong call for everyone to be on trend, and half of the world is responding with zeal. ZARA unveils its whimsical Spring/Summer series. You click buy. ASOS broadcasts a 70% off Outlet deal. You click buy. You take a short jaunt to the supermarket, then end up purchasing a new pair of trousers from H&M. Oh, and a jacket. And three new t-shirts that look almost alike, because you just loved the design.
You've gotten emails and promos about buying gorgeous new clothes, but when was the last time you checked your closet? And when you did, as you pulled out those now-unwanted clothes a la Marie Kondo, where do you take them? The trash. And if you're wondering, yes, your clothes are harming the planet. In the UK alone, 235 million pieces of clothing were stashed on the landfill. 1.2 billion tons of carbon was emitted in manufacturing these on-trend clothes. And your favourite Levi's jeans? It would use 3,781 liters of water for a lifetime wash. Not good, especially knowing that the styles of today just echoed the styles of yesterday.
So why not go to vintage stores instead?
There has been a lot of stigmas when it comes to wearing vintage, simply because it’s old, pre-worn and its sources are unknown. However, modern millennials, at the rise of the woke culture, are looking at the benefits which weigh comparatively more than its cons. For one, vintage clothing is a smart way to assuage the effects of climate change. It is ethical in many ways:
- Virgin fibers used as thread are spun from the earth’s now-depleting resources
- Cotton farms usually employ harmful fertilizers to speed up the harvest, consequently harming the rest of the environment
- Petroleum-based synthetic fibers cause large doses of carbon emissions
- Rivers and oceans are clogged by colourful dyes used in many bright clothing
- Fish and other marine animals are poisoned by the microfibres dislodged in the wash
- More clothes, more energy to maintain, including laundry and ironing
- Not all clothing company thrives under Fair Trade
Vintage is the complete opposite of fast fashion. It is well-preserved, one of a kind, and not surprisingly well-made, as the latter relies on speed, not quality. There's no looking out of place; as fashion goes in cycles, previous looks are more likely to become the next new mode. Plus, wouldn't it help to have a classic style of your own, like a fancy tweed coat or a lovely midi dress? And, if you'd only look closely, you might spot a precious Balenciaga just waiting for your taking.
Don't be scared to take the dive.
You might have heard a few myths, and no; they’re not all true. Consignment shops curate second-hand clothes for quality and style. These clothes are maybe born a few seasons back, but they are always in good condition and has promise. Style them, mend them, as long as they don't hit the landfill. One tip: don't let the current trends dishearten you from pulling out a vintage piece. Be one of a kind.
Large corporations, the promoters of fast fashion, may scream colourfully with their seasonal campaigns, but you don't have to take the bait. Shape your own style identity and use the power of your wallet to save the planet.