I’m a Zara girl. Rather: I used to be a Zara girl.
In uni, I did two semesters abroad in a small German city without a single Zara shop – like, how do they dare – and I travelled to the next city with the sole purpose of going shopping more times than I’d like to admit.
Well, a couple of years later I learned about fast fashion and I started to quietly judge everyone who had ever spent money on fast fashion – including myself.
I wouldn’t say I was a shopaholic. But, oh boy did I get a rush standing on the shoe section during mid-season sales.
When I decided to quit fast fashion for the first time, I tried quitting cold turkey. Just like that…3, 2, 1,…and I went from browsing websites and fashion influencers’ feeds on the daily, to just avoiding anything that had to do with the industry.
And know what? It sucked.
But that’s a brick wall everyone on this journey is going to hit at some point.
So probably you’re in that awkward stage where you kind of want to transition into a sustainable closet, but kind of love shopping and having new stuff and you think you’ll need to give that up. Amiright?
But listen: believing and supporting sustainable fashion does not have anything to do with “quitting fashion”. It’s just about finding the balance between what you want your style to look like, and aligning that image with your values.
You’re reading this, so you really are ready to say buh-bye to fast fashion. These are the steps I follow to break up with this toxic relationship – I hope they help you too.
8 Steps to Quit Fast Fashion
1. Rethink your closet
I bet you’d love to have a wardrobe that is the reflection of yourself. Imagine: every piece you see makes you happy, is useful, and represents your style.
So become your closet’s curator.
Now, you’ll have to be critical enough to realize which clothes you want to keep because they’re genuinely useful, and which ones you want to keep simply because you’re attached to them.
You need to give yourself a reason to quit fast fashion: is it for the environment? Ethics? Are you trying to embrace minimalism?
It’s not always going to be a fun process, sometimes it’ll be bitter. But I promise in the end it’ll be worth it. Think that you’re just making space for more and better clothes.
A great way to put the versatility of the clothes you own to the test is creating a capsule wardrobe. You don’t have to get rid of any clothes to try it, just do it as a drill. When you’re done with your experiment you’ll have a clearer picture of which clothes are useful and reflect your style, and which clothes you can do without.
Learn more about how to create your perfect capsule wardrobe here.
2. Focus on the quality of your clothes
Think about your clothes long term. In the long run, spending a little extra on a piece of clothing will bring you more satisfaction than spending less than 10 $ and using it three times before it falls apart.
This is part of the fast fashion trap: the more we use their clothes, the sooner they tear apart, and the sooner you have to buy something else form them.
All these purchases pile up and we end up being responsible for an immense amount of textile waste and wasted resources.
Pro tip: if you can find the perfect second-hand store, you might be able to find very high-quality pieces without having to splurge on them!
Do you want to know where to find quality sustainable pieces? Check this post on the 7 forms of sustainable fashion.
3. Don’t settle for anything that you don’t absolutely love
Many times we buy clothes on a whim, even if we don’t really need them. I like to think of it as some sort of FOMO – or Fear Of Missing Trends, if you will.
My rule of thumb is: never spend money on something you’re not utterly obsessed with. If you buy something that makes you feel meh, you’ll end up ignoring it and replacing it.
In other words, you’ll end up spending way more money than necessary in the first place. And, once again, buying just for the sake of it creates unnecessary waste.
4. Learn to appreciate your personal style more than passing trends
If you’re going to get something from this post, let it be this one tip. Fashion trends pass, style is eternal.
So be faithful to your style, to what YOU really like. If what you love is a vintage patterned padded silk blouse, you go girl.
I remember as a teenager having this pressure to buy stuff from fast fashion stores. Not because I loved their designs more than those from non-mainstream brands, but because it was the trendy thing to wear.
So wear whatever makes you happy with pride and don’t fall for passing trends.
Also, did you know that dast fashion brands have up to 52 collections a year? This means that each trend really lasts only a week. Yikes.
You can learn more facts about fast fashion here.
5. Realize that quitting fast fashion doesn’t mean you have to quit shopping
Nor being any less fashionable, nor hating mainstream fashion.
I love shopping. That feeling of gratification when you find the perfect fit. Just love it.
And shoes. Oh, shoes.
With my mentality change towards a more sustainable wardrobe, I didn’t have to give up shopping. I just reshaped my shopping habits. And in return, all of this reshaped the relationship I have with everything I own.
I learned to appreciate my shopping time more, and I started being more mindful about it – I don’t have shopping days as often as before, I’m more selective about the stores I go to, and about the kind of industry I support with my money.
You just need to find that healthy balance between doing what you love and doing it mindfully.
Want to know more about slow fashion? Read this!
6. Be more critical about what you see on social media
Truth bomb: those influencers on YouTube and Instagram doing hauls left and right are not promoting a responsible consumer behavior.
How many times have I heard in one of these videos the sentence: “well…I bought this sweater but I’m not sure I’ll ever wear it.”
What even…?? The goal of buying something is, well…using it.
We are normalizing a culture of disposable fashion. And if we ignore the harm it does to our planet, we’ll never get out of this vicious circle.
So next time you see this kind of thing, be critical about it. Do you really think that’s a positive behavior? Is it something you want to endorse?
And if the answer is no, go watch a sustainable fashion haul instead. My favorite ones are those from youtuber Sedona Christina.
7. Find sustainable fashion brands that really reflect your style
Don’t tell me that your personal style relates more with a mass-produced Forever21 graphic tee saying “My commute is better than yours” (????) (this t-shirt exists, google it) than with a curated piece from a sustainable brand.
Quitting fast fashion will be easier if you find a new favorite sustainable brand.
There are literally thousands of sustainable (ethical, eco-friendly,…) fashion brands out there waiting for you. Just find your perfect fit.
I made a guide to help you identify if a brand is truly sustainable. Check it out here.
8. Think about what your perfect (capsule) wardrobe would look like
Look, probably I will never have a real capsule wardrobe, just because I love having many options, and I haven’t mastered minimalism yet.
But I’m trying to invest in timeless basics that act as the staples of this hypothetical closet of mine and just letting the rest of my clothes and accessories go around it.
So even if you’re not willing to have a 30 piece closet, take some time to evaluate how your perfect closet would look like, and make it happen!
Do you have any more tips to quit fast fashion? Let me know!