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Slow Fashion: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

Slow Fashion: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

Robyn Smith is one of our fave slow fashion advocates, using her platform to discuss the wobbly ethics of influencers and their haul videos, microfibre pollution, navigating sustainable fashion as a beginner and much, much more. We asked her if she'd like to contribute to our blog and she kindly obliged with this piece encouraging us to look within, before we enter those card details for a big clothes shop. 




As the smell of post-pandemic freedom fills the air and we begin to realise maybe it’s not socially acceptable to leave the house in loungewear, stained with last night’s bolognese that you keep getting back out of the laundry basket because it’s your comfiest outfit, our minds are cast to what on earth we used to wear as a ‘normal’ civilian.

For many, it’s just too tempting to scour ASOS in search of a new ‘getting my life back/brunching with the girlies’ wardrobe, leaving fast fashion brands quids-in, as ever. Hence, it’s high time for a little intervention from an eco-conscious friend. For those of you living under a rock, fast fashion is bad. The industry thrives on social and environmental exploitation, so much so that the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK during a single month was found to be greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times. From an ethical perspective, fashion employs 1 out of 6 people in the world, yet less than 2% of these people earn a living wage, with only 4% of a garment’s price estimated to make it back to the workers. It’s a toxic industry to say the least and yet so many of us continue to fuel its exponential growth. 

So what can you do? Next time you go to make a purchase, pull out your little pocket book of the following questions (inspired by slow fashion influencer @evamillicentwhitt) and re-evaluate whether it’s a good idea.


1. Why am I actually buying this?

This question stems far further than just weighing up whether it’s ‘a need’ or ‘a want’, it requires you to lay back on the imaginary psychiatrist couch and dig a little deeper. Many people make purchases as a form of escapism or temporary relief from how they’re feeling. Whether you’re bored, depressed, anxious or even giddy with excitement, shopping is a reliable, yet very temporary antidote. On a scientific level, this can be attributed to the dopamine rush experienced, not only when seeing a product, but with the mere anticipation of making a purchase. In fact, this has led to 5% of adults in developed countries to form a buying-shopping disorder – yes, shopaholics are a real thing. So, next time you arrive at the checkout page, check in with yourself, evaluate what’s really going on and consider how you can be fulfilled in more beneficial ways.

2. Do I already have something similar? Will it go with things already in my wardrobe?

This one’s simple. If you already own a similar garment, chances are that one of them is going to be kicked to the curb, so do you really need to make a replacement, or can you spare another pair of jeans from landfill? Also, consider whether you can picture the garment in an outfit with other clothes in your wardrobe. If you can’t, it’ll undoubtedly remain unworn or leave you trolling the Zara homepage once again, in search of your next environmental crime… why not just go stamp on a plant whilst you’re at it?

3. Is this a passing trend? Will I be wearing this at least 30 times?

Thanks to the power of social media, trends develop at break-neck speed. However, investing in trends is like buying clothes with a use by date on them, they’re destined for the bin. Instead, invest in timeless designs, the canned goods of the fashion world, that you can see yourself wearing still in at least three years time. You can also turn to the 30 wear challenge in your moments of weakness. The idea is that you must wear a garment at least 30 times to be able to justify purchasing it, considering the environmental and social impacts of its lifecycle. This also means you need to consider the quality of the garment- will it even survive 30 wears? If you can’t safely commit to the challenge, don’t buy it.

4. What else could I do with this money? Is FOMO kicking in?

For many of us, there’s nothing like the thrill of a bargain and the age-old “I bet you can’t guess how much this was?” quiz. Student discounts, clearances, flash sales, we don’t discriminate. But how many times have you been blinded by the price tag and swept up in the thrill of the hunt and fear of missing out? Suddenly what was once a bargain becomes equivalent to throwing money down the drain. Before purchasing, ask yourself, if the price was higher, would you still walk away dreaming of it? Excuse the switch to mum-mode for a second, but even the price of bargains stacks up over time, so just consider the benefit to the bank balance when you put a stop to impulsive purchasing and how else you could spend that money. Dash and save the cash.

5. Am I OK with where this has come from, morally?


The first step to more sustainable habits is realising ignorance can no longer be bliss. Self-education is essential. Think about the business you’re investing in and take the time to research into their sustainability and ethics. If you can’t find much, chances are they have something to hide. Think about the price of that garment and where it’s been produced. If you think it’s cheap, question how much a factory worker was paid to attain that price point and the conditions they endured. Think about the fabric the garment’s made from - if it’s polyester, think about the fossil fuels it took to create, if it’s cotton, think about its water consumption. Also look into the microfibers that get rinsed off in the wash with certain materials - that end up in our lakes, oceans and drinking water. The best way to maintain a clear conscience is to buy second-hand, or if you need to buy new and can afford it, look into sustainable brands that pride themselves on transparency.