I haven’t written on the blog for a few days. Instead I have been devouring ‘Overdressed; The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion‘ by Elizabeth L. Cline. It was written a few years ago and I guess I knew some of what to expect which is why I was drawn to it when I saw it on the bookshelves; however my eyes have been opened so much wider on the topic of fast fashion and I am feeling so conflicted at the moment regarding my own personal choices and how they are affecting our economy and the environment.

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I love clothes and I get bored easy. I am not alone and I suppose that is the reason why fast fashion appeals to so many of us; It is cheap and can be worn a few times then cheaply replaced with the next trend. We believe we can’t afford to spend money on designer threads made in Australia or the United States of America because a $200 dress is so expensive compared to a similar one at H&M for $34.95. ย Particularly if we need [want] to wear something different every day.

I love H&M, Forever 21, Topshop, Forever New, Victorias Secret, Urban Outfitters and Zara to name just a few. The prices are too good to pass up and the quality isn’t all that bad. Only a few days ago I went on the hunt for a couple of corporate, professional dresses to wear for work and made a beeline straight to H&M. I have bought most of my corporate wear from H&M and usually pay around $34.95. In fact, I have always paid $34.95 and not a cent more. A few weeks ago I purchased the most beautiful little blue dress for $5 off the sale rack and I love it! So, how could I ever justify paying more. The other day I bought two corporate dresses from H&M for $34.95. It such good value, right? ย Well, as I look at my new, made in China, polyester dresses I realise that the majority of my fashion choices are based on a decison in the dressing room that goes something along the lines of, ‘It fits ok and the quality is not that bad’…ย  I tried on five dresses that day and chose the two that weren’t too bad.

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“โ€ฆbut they’re so cheapโ€ฆ”

The more I devour research into the impact of our fashion choices, the more conflicted I feel. I always believed I made good ethical, conscious choices in life. I love organic food, clean eating, recycling and vintage shopping. I love to support local and hand made goods too but then I spend all my spare cash on clothes made in China, Bangladesh or Vietnam where industrial pollution is out of control. ย Are my consumer choices negatively impacting the environment and the economy? Are my fashion choices contributing to the dangerous working conditions in Bangladesh & other third word countries just so I can feel good in a new outfit & “save money”ย ? Am I really saving money or am I just buying more?

It seems like a hard road to travel ethically and without being full of hypocrisy. I recycle but won’t think twice about buying a polyester [plastic] skirt produced in harsh conditions using an enormous amount of natural resources; only to end up falling apart after a few washes & in the bin.

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โ€ฆ Every year over 2 million tonnes of clothes end up in landfill in the USA aloneโ€ฆ

If you are still reading well, thank you for listening. I guess sometimes it is just good to release those thoughts from our mind and have the discussion. That is why I love blogging and the blogging network. So now I am going back to my book ๐Ÿ™‚

Would you tell me your thoughts on fast fashion and ethical consumption? How much do you know about where your clothes come from? I would love to hear from you and continue the discussion. Also no judgment;ย we are all a work in a progress. NO ONE is perfect x

Lots of love and lots of peace,

Sechy

xoxo

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21 thoughts on “Fashionably conflicted

  1. Great post + really appreciate your thoughts…
    very rarely do I ever buy from H&M etc…
    instead I buy “better brand” labels…
    and then consign my clothes…
    or donate to women’s shelter~

    1. Thank you gorgeous! And thank you for the comment. Giving clothes to a shelter is a fantastic idea. I think the problem with most people is that they buy the cheap clothes and donate them to charity when they become unwearable. So then the charities have no use for them and they end up in land fill. I am definitely going to look at changing my consumption habits. Xxxx

  2. Thrifting exclusively doesn’t fix the problems that you mention but I really think it helps. Not that I only buy second hand. But also I think about how if people didnt buy and quickly discard so many clothes, I’d have nothing second hand to buy!

    1. Thank you for the comment! Thrift shopping is definately one way we can contribute positively. I have noticed the quality of clothing is much poorer than it used to be though. I used to almost exclusively thrift but not so much now. With pre loved clothing the quality is declining & true vintage clothing prices have gone through the roof. It’s so cheap to buy new that it isn’t as appealing to people to buy second hand anymore. A lot of charity store merchandise is thrown out because it’s not being sold. xxxx.

  3. While I’m certainly aware of how many cheaper-end clothes are manufactured in countries through even cheaper labor forces (which is why you can buy a $35 dress), I cannot say that I’ve taken into consideration the global impact, particularly fashion and the environment. I have personally gotten to a point where I try to invest in my wardrobe. I find that while H&M and Forever 21 have great stuff, after just a few wears, you find yourself back buying again to replace what you just bought. Sure, you paid less, but if you’re constantly investing the same “cheap pieces” eventually you would spend the same as if you bought that piece from a more high-end brand. If you think about it, you really aren’t saving that much money. Now this doesn’t mean that I’m advocating buying a $300 piece of clothing – but in my experience, you get what you pay for. Investment pieces are my goal as I’ve gotten older. Sure, if I’m looking for something trendy that will last 5 minutes anyway then Forever 21 is the place. Forever 21 is just throw-away fashion. Then again, perhaps this is precisely the problem and it’s hurting our environment much more than we’re aware. You open an interesting discussion here. I’ll have to check out this book.

    1. You are absolutely right, we get what we pay for. Thank you for reading ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s interesting that there are certain things people are willing to spend money on – cars, phones or even trips to the hairdresser, but tend to balk at spending a few extra dollars on a dress. It is definitely something I’m wrestling with at the moment. I have always advocated ‘buy made in Australia/ USA/ Italy etc but often I end up buying the cheaper imported version. It’s human nature I suppose to want the better deal, especially when funds are tight and shopping just makes you feel good! but as you said, it’s throwaway fashion, it needs to be replaced much more regularly. I think you’ll enjoy this book. It’s a very easy and interesting read without being judgmental in anyway. Xoxo

      1. P.s. Also, the research into the environmental impact if manufacturing will blow your mind. I had no idea it was as bad as it is! Have a look for this book at your local library. Enjoy beautiful xoxo

    1. Thank you so much Lucy. It means so much that you say that. This book is perfect holiday reading, it’s really easy to read and not boring in any way. It really has made me think differently about fashion consumption. Xoxo

  4. Hi Seshy, great post! I totally get where you are coming from. BTWโ€ฆare you still on the Gold Coast? How are you getting stuff from H&M??

    Ahem..

    Over the last year or so, I’ve been trying really hard to buy fewer pieces, but thinking more carefully about them first. I fell in love with the idea of the French wardrobe, which is less clothes of a higher quality that suit you down to a tee. Always reliable, always look good, never fail pieces.

    It’s been useful because it makes it easier to mix and match when I buy winter basics, for example, in military green, khaki, camel, white, navy and sometimes black, and then remember to get accent colours like bright red. Summer has been a bit trickier!

    I think its easier to feel like buying quality winter clothes, because you don’t want to rug up in scratchy fabrics and the quality pieces feel heavier, softer, more durable, etc.

    Summerโ€ฆtricky! When an expensive top feels just as flimsy as a cheap one it gets a lot harder. This is my challenge at the moment, to rebuild my summer wardrobe as I haven’t bought summery items in years (apart from holiday sundresses, cute..but not always as chic as I’d like).

    I walked through Kmart the other day and it made me cringe just how much stuff they had crammed in! I thought “wow, this section here alone could clothe a village!” and then I thought about the village where it came from. Tricky stuff.

    I haven’t been one for fast fashion too much, just because I’ve been so budget conscious when travelling all the time – I scrutinise a piece and say to it “You better last me three years!” Which normally means its a more classic style, which is starting to get a little boring. I need to start investing in pieces that are a little more adventurous! And responsible, too ๐Ÿ™‚

    xx Genevieve – also I am still running Wanderbug, but also now http://www.genevieveingenue.wordpress.com.

    It’s a celebration of all things chic, luminous and fabulous! Stop by and let me know what you think ๐Ÿ™‚ Still trying to find my audience (chic, passionate, creative women, such as yourself!)

    1. Hey Genevieve !! I am lucky enough to go between Dubai and LA every week as a flight attendant, that’s pretty much all I do. I got back from LA Monday & I’m flying there again Friday. Phew!

      I think the appeal of H&M and other stores is that I can grab something affordable that isn’t in Australia yet so I feel a little bit different from everyone else and the quality doesn’t feel ‘that bad’. I am definitely going to be considering my choices from now on though. Im still wrestling with the idea..I used to always be very picky with my clothes , I have Sass n Bides and Lorna Jane items that were made in Australia that still look amazing more than ten years later! Now all there clothes are made in Asia and it shows; the jeans don’t last anywhere near as long. After I became a flight attendant, the world opened up to me in a different way- china, Hong Kong, London,USA, South America – all those high street shops… Argh! So hard to resist all the pretty things!

      I would love to check out your new blog. Heading over there now ๐Ÿ™‚ and thank you for the wonderful comments gorgeous! Xoxo

      1. Wow what an exciting job! Such different destinations too – what fab shopping destinations, the temptation must be insane! Thats really interesting that you noticed the quality change! Was that just for Sass & Bide or Lorna Jane too? xx

      2. Yep, both. My first pair if sass n bides were made in Australia. They were the classic east village cut that they don’t do anymore. Everything about those jeans was spectacular, I wore them to death & I still have them and I bought them in around 1998/9 . I worked in a nightclub at the time and used to washe them every day and they still looked new! My first ever pair of Lorna Jane 3/4 pants were made in Australia and I still wear them. They look brand new & make my butt look amazing ๐Ÿ™‚ I got them around 2001. Now all their products for both brands are made overseas&the quality is nowhere near the same. However, in that time all their prices have gone up! They are amazing designers but I suppose the temptation of money is too good. Not only that, in this book it explains that designers have to go overseas to survive and remain competitive. So it’s a catch 22 . Xoxo

      3. That’s really interesting! I read an article with a fashion designer for a big fashion house and he said it was exhausting because they make them do so many shows a year now rather than just summer and winter so it’s an endless competition. Kinda sad hey! Xox

  5. Hey Sechy,

    Firstly, your thoughts on the book were such an interesting read. I think many of us hardly look beyond our immediate environments to see how our choices affect others. I will definitely be purchasing the book or renting it out of my local library thanks to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also read in a comment somewhere that you travel to Dubai frequently …I live in Dubai and would love to meet you on your next stop over if you got the time!
    Xx

    Maryam

    1. Hi honey! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Meeting up in Dubai sounds like a fabulous idea ๐Ÿ™‚ I travel there very frequently and will be there next week! If you would like, email your details via my contact page and we can organize something, I’d love that!

      Much love, Sechy xoxo

  6. This is a great post. Not enough people highlight the cost to the planet and the work forces of third world countries in the clothing industry. Fortunately there are a few organisations out there that protect the workers of these countries. It’s only through people talking about these issues that the world will eventually catch on and address these issues.

    Thanks for your great post

    1. Thank you! That means a lot to me ๐Ÿ™‚ yes, I think if more people can talk about it & consciously choose local over imported, more change will come. Every little it helps. The way fashion is currently being produced is just not sustainable long term.

      ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You are most welcome and thankyou for popping by ๐Ÿ™‚ Its such a great thing to recycle as much as we can. I enjoy recycling my clothes, its kind of cleansing too ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

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