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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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New Hallway Policy at Whitman: Community Perspective

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June 17, 2024

Stop indulging in fast fashion and start promoting sustainability

Stop+indulging+in+fast+fashion+and+start+promoting+sustainability
Elizabeth Daly

Whether for school or an important job interview, picking out the perfect outfit is often an agonizing process that can take hours, especially with closets full of hangers and overflowing drawers. 

In recent years, mindless shopping — buying items impulsively without a plan on when to wear them — has become increasingly popular. Thoughtless shopping influences individuals to spend more money on clothes they will wear once or twice, inevitably replacing them with new items. This is especially true when individuals buy unique statement pieces for a single purpose, like a bright pink, sparkly dress purchased for a concert and never worn again. The concept of specially curated outfits has become obsolete, destroying the fun and creativity behind putting an outfit together.

Though buying cheap items in bulk may be appealing, it encourages people to ignore the importance of staple pieces — basic items like a plain black jacket or a white t-shirt, which are more versatile and can be re-worn for various occasions. 

Brands that prioritize material quality often have more expensive pieces than fast fashion companies, making purchasing more sustainable clothing seem unaffordable or not worth it. Fast fashion companies like Zara or Shein constantly add new clothing to their massive catalogs, offering cheap prices for trendy clothing items. In comparison, places selling long-lasting and reasonably priced clothes look overpriced and current with trends. As a fast fashion consumer, it’s easy to fixate on a price tag. Stores like Forever 21 and H&M flash extremely low price points, but neglect durability. The clothes that come from these companies often deteriorate rapidly. Not to mention, fast fashion is detrimental to the environment, producing 97 million tons of waste annually, whereas high-quality clothing brands typically pay more attention to sustainability in the production process.

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Even though buying cheaper clothes might save money in the short term, they won’t stand the test of time, resulting in a constant cycle of clothes replacing cheap, worn-down clothes. In the interest of consumers’ wallets and the environment, people should focus on buying higher quality clothes that will last much longer and can be styled in numerous ways. 

Impulsive purchases are an unhealthy but common habit in today’s society. The immediate excitement from having a new clothing item to wear to different events is enough for consumers to repeatedly indulge in fast fashion without thinking of the possible consequences. However, consumers can avoid this instant gratification by building a closet full of useful apparel. 

Creating a capsule wardrobe is a method of filling a closet with durable, versatile clothing items. A capsule collection combines old clothing and clothes bought during the occasional splurge. A minimalist mindset and the adoption of a capsule closet narrow down the size of a wardrobe so people can truly define their style. 

The capsule wardrobe contains a limited amount of simple basics that can complement any outfit to emphasize a unique style. The articles of clothing may be combined with statement pieces to incorporate a pop of color, or simply be styled within themselves for more neutral looks. A simple strategy to transform your wardrobe is to clean out your closet and dispose of clothes you never wear. A clean wardrobe allows for consistent availability of specific pieces that don’t require digging through a pile of frivolous items that can be paired with anything.

Capsule closets can reduce the time and money spent shopping and planning outfits. Sophomore Anna Murray recommends finding multipurpose clothing items. 

“It makes figuring out your outfit so much easier if you just know you have a rotation of pants that you wear,” said Murray. “I have about seven good pairs of pants that I wear pretty regularly which allows me to make super creative outfits.” 

Not only does this method reduce money spent on clothes per season, but it also decreases the amount of irritating clutter items that take up space. 

Ruoh-Nan Yan, a sustainable apparel professor at Colorado State University, encourages her students to slowly start shopping sustainably instead of trying to go all in immediately. 

“A big message I usually try to share with students is buy less, buy better,” said Yan. “Instead of buying ten items that are from fast fashion brands, buy maybe eight from cheaper brands and invest in two items that will last you longer.” 

By promoting fashion sustainability, people can combat the negative impacts of indulging in fast fashion. Researching what brands qualify as sustainable can help educate consumers on being conscious about their fashion purchases. 

“Read a little more about stores and their stories and look into why they claim to be sustainable,” Yan said. “How do they measure their sustainable performance? Check the material, check the fabric, check the construction.”

It can be difficult to discern which companies promote fast fashion and which are better for the environment. A simple way to tell is by looking at the “about us” section on a store’s website, diving a little deeper into the brand’s background and looking at reviews to see what customers say about the clothes’ durability.

Sophomore Alex Bancroft has another, simpler way of finding what clothes are worth the money.

“My favorite inspiration is going on Pinterest,” said Bancroft. “If I see an item of clothing that I like, I’ll go through my Pinterest and see if there’s more than a couple ways that I can style that item, just to make sure I’m not buying something that can only be worn once.” 

While it’s normal to want to indulge in the immediate benefits of fast fashion due to the availability and the price range, it’s important to be cautious of overconsumption and keep in mind the positive effects of a simpler wardrobe. 

While fast fashion may seem convenient in the short term, the time wasted trying to repair or replace low-quality items could have been saved by investing in one solid piece. Being more mindful and selective about your wardrobe can make curating outfits a much simpler process and emphasize the idea that less is, in fact, more.

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