My Journey Towards Becoming a More Conscious Buyer

My Journey Towards Becoming a More Conscious Buyer

Sustainable Journey
My Sustainable Journey

To say that the fashion industry is changing would be an understatement. In fact, the industry is rapidly changing and so is the curriculum.

Such is the impact of sustainability that it is now an important criterion to be taught to students about to enter the industry.

Three years of studying fashion, and not one project has gone by where sustainable fashion was not mentioned. How I view and consume fashion is deeply affected by my curriculum, and I often question myself, “would I view fashion and sustainability the same way had I studied something else?”

The simpler answer to this would be no. I would be preoccupied with other things in life, or simply be ignorant because I didn’t know any better.

But it’s not black and white. With the amount of data and evidence out there, even the most oblivious people are bound to find out the ugly truth of fast fashion. The state of wasteful fast fashion is a climate change issue and you could always just stumble across a documentary or a post and further educate yourself on the damages caused by fast fashion.

Sustainable fashion can’t be ignored any longer. But this bears the question,

How did I become familiar with these hard-hitting issues?

Like I mentioned above, I am a student of fashion and I attribute most of my knowledge on sustainable fashion to be a result of the same.

But for context, the year was 2019. Shein was popping and as someone who was living alone in a big city for the first time, I was just spitting cash on cheap fast fashion clothes and buying insane amounts of clothes without a care in the world.

At this point in my life, I was so used to inhumanely cheap clothing that I didn’t value anything I bought. In my first year of college, I was stuck in this cycle of buying dirt-cheap fast fashion clothes, wearing them a few times, and forgetting about them.

They would find a home at the back of the closet just sitting waiting to be noticed by me again.

Sustainable Journey
Sustainable Journey - Say No To Fast Fashion

The big shock in my sustainable journey

The time when my illusion of what I was doing was okay was shattered in my second year. This was when we were starting to decode the industry and look beyond the glitz and glam.

Up until this point, we were just learning the basics, some history, maybe a photoshoot or two here and there. Then came the project that changed it all for me. This was when my sustainable journey had started.

It was called “How sustainable is my closet?” This was a very personal project, we had to go through our closet and collect some information about the composition of our clothes, accessories, and cosmetics.

Upon collection of the data, we were to identify the percentage of sustainable fashion items in our closets.

And my god, was that a shameful class for us all. Most of us were, and still are students with small budgets and big dreams, so as you can imagine: Polyester dominated that room.

However, we were able to recognize our mistakes in a judgment-free class and understand the deeper problems of fast fashion.

Creating a positive association with sustainability

It’s easy to see where someone is coming from when they say, “Sustainable fashion and beauty are just too expensive.” I understand that I can’t spend 8000 bucks on a simple dress either.

But we can’t let this be the excuse for reckless spending at fast fashion outlets. Sustainable fashion isn’t expensive, fast-fashion clothes are just so cheap that they have distorted the general public’s view on the cost of production.

Just recently, I spoke to someone who said, “You may disagree with me but fast fashion is essential. We can’t all spend the big bucks on clothes.” I actually agree with that. It is essential and should be used that way. Not as cheap disposable clothes we can spend thousands of dollars on for a haul video.

I would say the industry is at fault to some extent, sustainability can only be truly accepted in a judgment-free environment. If we are constantly shown harsh imagery and over-the-top statistics, our instinct is to turn our heads.

We need an effective way to communicate all the good things that sustainability stands for and that will come through community building and taking accountability whilst being understanding of the different circumstances everyone goes through. Thankfully, I was able to find that community and someone to hold me accountable for all the reckless shopping I had been doing.

When I recovered from the shock

In my sustainable journey, the process of learning about sustainability lasted a couple of weeks. I remember we were to watch at least a dozen documentaries and make ourselves familiar with all the darkness of our industry. During one of these classes, I remember my mentor saying, “What is calfskin? It’s a cow’s baby.” and that hit me so hard. Here I am after two years, writing about it.

Those few weeks were an eye-opener for me. It was uncomfortable for me, I tried to ignore what I knew and treat myself by buying something cheap but I couldn’t. I knew it was wrong.

But here’s the thing, I didn’t throw out my pile of cheap polyester clothes. I now am bound with the responsibility to use them to their fullest and keep them from going to a wasteland.

The moral of the story is, we live in scary times. Things can get overwhelming sometimes and at times like these, you should look for support from a community of like-minded people who understand your struggle.

And no matter what, don’t think that your contributions don’t matter because everyone’s efforts count.

Sustainable Journey
My sustainable journey

Share your story/moments of how you became a more conscious buyer and tell us your sustainable journey.

Written by: Simi Dhir, Fashion Communication & Styling Student