A beginner’s guide to shopping ethically

Because it can be really confusing out there.

By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the term ‘fast fashion.’ We know it it allows us to score a Moschino lookalike for about $20 which is good, but we also know it’s a largely bad thing. 

Countless initiatives have educated us on the downfalls of fast fashion and brands all over the world are making smarter moves. Just look at H&M’s latest campaign. It sees the fast-fashion brand dub recycling clothing as “the only rule of fashion.” Confusing right?

With all these mixed messages, it can be pretty intimidating for the consumer. We’re constantly guilt tripped by ethical campaigns, shock-inducing news and pages after pages of reports. In among all this information, it seems the meaning of ‘ethical’ has gotten a bit lost. 

Luckily your fellow fast fashion addicts here at FJ can help. We put together a beginner’s guide to shopping ethically. Because beginners-anything is achievable.   

1.     Make it your own

Sounds easy enough, right? Take the word ‘ethical’ and consider the concerns that are close to your heart. Whether it’s the issue of exploitation of workers and their conditions, fair trade, sustainable production through the supply chain, environmental impact or animal welfare, pick one that you feel strongly about. Make that your motivation for starters. 

2.     Slow down

Jump on the slow fashion bandwagon. In today’s mainstream fashion industry garments are taken from the design stage to the retail floor in just a few weeks. We’re not saying you need to abandon your Zara buys 100 per cent, but try mixing it up. Instead of spending your fortnight’s pay on a slew of bargains that might not stand the test of time (RIP the leather cap), hold out a bit longer for that one quality garment. Think about solid investment pieces that will last and plan your purchases. Man-style blazer = yes, sheer pants = no.    

3.     Rent and re-use

We tend to be at our weakest when shopping for an event. We’ll ‘um’ and ‘ah’ over a $100 shirt but when there’s an event coming up? $800 on a fuchsia dress seems perfectly reasonable. Thanks to a bunch of smart fashion brains, numerous online/offline stores, Facebook groups and Instagram collectives, you can rent out high-end dresses that are current-season. It means you don’t have to outfit repeat and it’s only a fraction of the price of buying that one-off wear.

4.     Tune into your habits

Ask the golden question: “Do I really need it?” We get it, scoring yourself a fast fashion bargain feels good, it’s been scientifically proven. Nevertheless, we spend so much time in stores and adding to cart that so many of us have become skilled mindless shoppers. Sad? Stressed? Think an impulse purchase will heal your emotional soul? Stop right there. By reflecting on your mood and habits you can better plan your purchases and avoid regrets.   

5.     Look for labels

This one seems obvious, but looking for accredited labels when making your decisions is at the core of conscience-boosting purchases. The brands we’re buying have room for improvement – according to The Australian Fashion Report 2015, 75 per cent of Australian brands still don’t know the source of all their fabrics and inputs. Fortunately enough, resources like Ethical Clothing Australia and Good On You do the hard work for us. 

Next time you head to the shops, try following these tips. Good feels guaranteed. 

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