FLatest fashion brands have touted the promise of a shiny new outfit that results in happiness for more than two decades, which is long enough for most of us to recognize that happiness isn’t really what fast fashion delivers. But given how easy and cheap it is to shop, and the way a cocktail dress or pair of shoes can follow us around the internet, breaking away from fast fashion can be difficult, even for the most conscientious consumer.
According to psychologist Chris Cheers, sometimes the first step to changing your behavior is realizing the beliefs that lie behind it. He says that because, psychologically, fashion can be based on comparisons or meeting expectations, your brain may understand clothing as a space where you have to avoid the threat of not dressing the way you should. In other words: fit.
“So maybe your belief is, ‘If I don’t buy this, I can’t go to that party.’ Or, ‘If I don’t buy this, people won’t think I’m hot or people won’t want to date me,’” she says. The key to addressing and changing this behavior is to notice the thought and understand that you don’t necessarily have to believe it.
Cheers says that a useful exercise is to follow the thought. If your brain suggests that you will be more popular or desirable in the new purchase, think about what actually happens. Will a new top really give you the meaningful life you want? “Sometimes we don’t need retail therapy, we need real therapy,” she says.
In the meantime, there are some strategies you can implement to change your shopping habits. Here, people who have successfully stopped buying fast fashion explain how they did it and how they stayed.
the rule of three
In 2019 Lauren Bravo, author of How To Break Up With Fast Fashion, set herself a challenge: go the whole year without buying anything “new-new”. On the last day of 2018, she panicked and bought five dresses at a fast fashion store (and returned four). “Realizing that none of those dresses really satisfied my craving was a turning point,” she says. This helped review her shopping habits.
Now he never buys anything new “without first thinking about it for a few weeks or months.” This gives you time to research brand ethics: You only buy from brands that pay their workers a living wage.
Waiting also means that you can consider how the item will fit into your existing wardrobe. To do this, she uses a rule from her mother: Before you buy something, name at least three items from your wardrobe that you would wear it with and three (real) places or occasions that you would wear it on.
He also believes in the joy of saving for something. “Do you remember how you felt as a kid, you really wanted something and you saved up months and months to finally buy it?”
“Taking your time to invest in something really great, with a story you love behind it, feels so much better than a hundred impulse buys.”
Writer and podcaster Maggie Zhou says she eschews fast fashion by adhering to several principles. “One is the 30 wear rule, where ideally I want to wear a piece of clothing at least 30 times.”
He has also made a conscious effort to put fast fashion brands out of sight and mind by shifting his digital activity: unfollowing fast fashion brands and social media influencers and unsubscribing from lists. of e-mail.
But the ultimate change was realizing that “style really comes from re-wearing and re-styled clothing in multiple ways.” She notes that anyone can make something look good once, but “being able to reinvent it for different aesthetics and occasions is where skill comes in.”
The browser without purchases
“I know myself and I know I’m not going to stop buying,” says Wendy Syfret, author of The Sunny Nihilist. I want to be that person, but unfortunately it is very ingrained in my life. It’s emotional, it’s habitual. I can lessen those urges but I can’t get rid of them.”
One way it replicates the fun of online shopping is by putting that curatorial energy on non-shopping platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. “I make boards and keep folders of styles I like or brands I’m interested in,” she says.
“My interest usually wanes pretty quickly. But I’m left with an abandoned Pinterest board, not a bunch of stuff in the mail that I bought at 2am and don’t want anymore.” When she sees something she likes, instead of buying it, she emails herself the link so she can look at it later on her desk.
Ultimately, she’s trying to ask bigger questions of herself when it comes to style, so it’s not about championing “fresh” and “new” as an aspirational aesthetic. Instead, she tries to focus on the person she wants to be and the vibe she wants to project. “The reality is that if you’re really trying to project an authentic version of yourself, it’s probably not with something you single bought.”
The polite switcher
“It’s not so much that I have a strategy to avoid fast fashion,” says Nico Idour, “I’m just not in it anymore.” The owner of Jawbreaker the Baker used to buy a lot of fast fashion, but she’s completely reshaped her shopping habits since she met her husband, designer Jason Hewitt.
Hewitt changed Idour’s shopping habits by explaining the “realities of fast fashion” and the enormous environmental costs of mass production and international shipping.
“Minimizing my environmental impact has always been very important to me, and therefore immediately disassociating myself from fast fashion once I understood the damage was not a difficult choice,” says Idour.
Instead, buy exclusively second-hand. You also have a rule that you have to try something on before you buy it, which prevents you from making impulse purchases online. It also helps that she enjoys wearing clothes she loves and feels good in over and over again.