This is your brain on fast fashion.

 

It looks great, it’s cheap and convenient, and provides instant gratification.

Your mind cries “I have to have it”.  

There are additives that you can’t even pronounce but that’s OK, because right now your brain is pumping sweet sweet dopamine just from the weight of that bag in your hand.

These warm and fuzzy feelings keep you coming back for more.

Did you just buy a Big Mac? No, you just shopped at H&M.

This is your brain on fast fashion.

Saving a buck sends the same happy feelings to your brain as eating fast food, and is proven to be just as addictive (Compulsive Buying Disorder, anyone?)

Perhaps you’re a Gen Y’er like me, working your first salaried job and adulting pretty hard to earn that paycheck. You want to reward yourself for your efforts and you have a little extra money to spend, but you’re not making the Fortune 500 list any time soon.

In this case, making your money stretch sounds like the wise option. I’ll be the first to admit I love scrimping where I can. Especially when I can look a million bucks while only spending 50. For a long time, this was a no-brainer to me.

But what if I told you spending more money now could save you money later? I’m not talking about ethics or the environment – I’m thinking solely about the money in your wallet.

I’m assuming that you’re not swayed by the fact that purchasing that $150 dollar sweater would pay a child’s school fees for a year. And I’m assuming a shirt’s recyclable fabric (hello, CO2-neutral fashion!) doesn’t make you shout “I’ll take it!”

So if ethics and the environment won’t convince you, I’m guessing the promise of saving money will.

Save money, buy quality. Simple.

Cheap clothing isn’t actually cheap. You spend less in the long run if you just opt for quality items first. Just because you know you could always replace one cheap shirt with another cheap shirt does not mean that you should. Do you buy milk that expires two days later? The same goes for fashion that might fall apart in a week.

The average person only wears 20% of their wardrobe. Remember that shirt that still has the tag on it? If you put in place a self imposed intervention between yourself and the checkout. Start asking yourself a few questions about what you need in your life, and the quality that will make you happy with your purchase. (Check out this idea for buying quality clothing.)

How to outsmart fast fashion

  •             spare buttons and threads
  •             natural fibres
  •             strong stitching
  •             matching seams on patterned fabric
  •             finished seams
  •             metal zippers
  •             strong buttonholes

Don’t be afraid to tug on your garment. When you try it on, sit down – do squats if you must. When you bend, do the seams pull in weird places? Do they pants keep twisting around your ankles? Don’t be fooled by some brands that sell “100% cotton” shirts; this doesn’t mean the fabric is good quality. These shirts are just made of 100% low-grade cotton fibres and tear easily.

Remember real leather shoes can be repaired, don’t throw them out. Opt for classic looking pieces over trendy items and don’t forget the op shops. We all know about Forever 21 and H&M pushing out new items with a 14-day turnaround. From the fabric to the cost of labour – it’s cheap for a reason. But buying high-end fashion doesn’t mean you’re getting quality, either. You’re often just paying for the brand name and the marketing.

If you want bang for your buck, mid-range clothing companies are often the best place to look. And – even though the mid range space is dominated by brands doing better – remember, I’m discounting ethics and sustainability. Mid-range clothing is often the best quality and offers the best value for money.

Society has gotta catch up already

We’ve started a revolution in food. We want non-GMO, gluten-free, organic and free range options and we are willing to pay a little more for them. Why not join the clothing revolution? Let’s pay attention to what is being put on our bodies. Purchase only items that are made well. Demand quality. (And maybe soon we’ll also care about the ladies who make them?)

When you spend more, you might not get that same sugar high that as when you save a dollar, but think of fashion like anything else you’d save for – a house, a car, a vacation. I promise, you’ll be thankful two winters from now when you’re still keeping warm in this season’s wool sweater.

 

Megan Schipp is a Director of The Fabric Social, a social enterprise working exclusively with women affected by armed conflict, displacement and other insecurity. The Fabric Social work to transform one of the greatest causes of poverty: armed conflict.Unfortunately, we’re living in a quantity-over-quality world, so we may not always know what to look for. Here are a few things to check next time you’re rummaging through those clothing racks.

This article was originally posted on The Green Hub. 


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