I’ve never really been that bothered about clothes (Sue me Gok Wan). However, in recent years, I have definitely had moments where I’ve had a crisis of style and wanted to reinvent myself with a new look. Whenever something went wrong in my life, I longed for a curated wardrobe. I wanted to be seen as someone ‘put together’ but I spill things down myself at least 17 times a day so no matter how hard I tried, I would only ever achieve a level of style that can be acceptable when you have a toothpaste stain on your tits.
I am tall, really fucking tall and I am broad and I have a soft tummy and for a long time this stuff really bothered me but finally now it doesn’t. I feel like I wear the clothes I want to wear because of how they make me feel and how well they can disguise the tea I’ve dribbled down myself when trying to multitask as I slurp from an industrial sized Sports Direct mug. I have also come to accept that a lot of high street shops don’t work for me because my leg length is akin to that of a giraffe and I am often left with very cold ankles. I have still been a sucker for buying stuff from the places that Facebook advertise to me, that are cheap, have fast delivery and can be worn once even if my ankles are cold and then never see the light of day again. I have also moaned relentlessly when my Mum dragged me around Charity shops because I thought the clothes smelled of old people.
Last month I decided I wanted to make a change. Not only did I want to make sure that the clothes I buy fit me properly, I want to make sure that I know exactly where these clothes are coming from and the ethics behind the company I am buying from. At this point, I have to acknowledge that this is a privileged thing to be able to do, I have a body size that allows me to find things that work at most shops & the finances to be able to fund it. I think the stores that serve larger bodies and sell clothes at an affordable price absolutely have their place and I also believe that these stores can do better without adding ££ to the price tag. That being said, you have to make the choices that serve you best. No judgements.
It is likely that a cheap top is cheap because of one (or a combination) of the following things: the fabric has been sourced unethically, the person who made the item hasn’t been paid properly, the top has been mass produced which means poorer quality or the environment has not been considered in the production. All of these things contribute to the world of fast fashion, making it easy to buy a top for £3 and even easier to chuck it in the bin when you no longer want it. Thankfully, there has been a huge rise in ethical clothing practises and it is now easier than ever to dig into what is happening behind the scenes of your favourite brands.
Here are the steps I have taken to become a more conscious consumer:
- I sorted through my wardrobe and bagged up donations for the charity shop of clothes that no longer serve my body
- I looked through the clothes I had and wrote a list of the items that I needed and the items that I want in order to ‘complete’ my wardrobe. It was also important to me that every option of clothing I had made me feel good. If something hasn’t been worn in x amount of months, it’s getting donated
- I decided I would only buy new clothing if it was something essential
- I would first look in charity shops for these items (where possible – nobody’s got time for second hand knickers) & buy them and wash them if they smelled of old people
- If I couldn’t find it in the charity shop, I would look for ethical companies to purchase from
- If I couldn’t source the item this way then I would use this resource to establish where I could buy this item on the high street with the best rating
^ I am hoping that through following this process I will end up with an ethical and sustainable collection of clothes. Although purchasing these items often come with a higher price tag, the quality is a whole lot better so you are likely to spend less on these items, compared to those from somewhere celebrating fast fashion, in the long run.
Fast fashion stores need to be held accountable for their practises and the ethical and sustainable brands need to be more inclusive. These are the 2 key things that would result in real, positive change. We are the consumers and we hold the power. I encourage you to do your research and choose carefully before parting with your hard earned cash.
I would love to hear your views on fast fashion, inclusivity in the ethical clothing world and recommendations of where I should shop. Feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on Instagram.
Some stores I have been loving lately:
Lucy and Yak
We are hairy people
The Emperor’s old clothes
Etsy, Ebay & Depop