How to break up with fast fashion

Breakups are ugly. There's tears and smudged mascara, plenty of chocolate and wine, and a sudden aggravation towards anything remotely romantic. While the process might be emotional and awkward, there's generally a good reason why people breakup, and there's a good reason why you should breakup with fast fashion too.

Our relationship with clothing is emotional, physical and mental, and just like any human relationship, it should be mutually beneficial. Clothes comfort us, clothes love the shapes of our bodies, they keep us safe and warm, and they make us feel important. The right kind of clothes can transform and empower, they wrap us in confidence and make us feel valued.

The issue with fast fashion is that it's a one-way relationship, and on a scale of 'marriage material' to 'swipe left asap', it's at the very bottom of the barrel. Unethical clothing is responsible for inhumane slave labour, for environmental degradation, and for the waste issue that we're facing globally. Our modern relationship with fast fashion isn't loving, and no matter how much you try to convince yourself of its piety, this is one relationship that's out of excuses.

Don't kid yourself; your relationship with fast fashion will always, always end the same. It's an unhealthy cycle of impulse buys, a short-lived buzz, and a throw-away rag that ends up with holes after only two dates. But not all clothing relationships are bad, and it's quite easy to develop healthy fashion habits. Follow these four easy steps to break up with fast fashion and start embracing a wholesome relationship with clothes.

Block fast fashion. Just as you would block an ex's phone number and unfriend them on Facebook, block all the websites that tempt you to binge. Stop following fast fashion profiles on social media, unsubscribe to the newsletters, and give yourself the mental space to start making good fashion choices. Out of sight, out of mind.

Banish the memories. If it's a particularly bad breakup, it's best to get rid of all the memories; the photo frames, the jewellery, the bed sheets, the lot. Unfortunately, with fast fashion, this is one of the major problems, because you can't just throw it away. All those impulsive buys, the $10 polyester tops and the cheap nylon tights are made with petrochemicals and dioxin-producing bleaches, so binning them is the worst thing you can do. The switch isn't going to be cut and dry, and you probably won't be able to banish it all overnight, but you can at least stop buying it from here on in. The fast fashion that you already own can still have a positive impact though; recycle, reuse, repurpose or swap it all with friends, host a wardrobe sale or trade it online. The next time you do buy something, remember the pain you went through during this 'banishing phase' because the second you buy something, you're entirely responsible for its impact before, during and after you wear it.

Start looking for 'the one'. If you're serious about making a positive impact, start looking in the right places and give up your old fast fashion habits for good. Start reading about ethical fashion, follow eco profiles on Instagram and brush up on your knowledge of the garment industry. It is said that trust is the most important factor in a relationship, and that's true for fashion too; make sure you're promised transparency by the brands you fall in love with and do your homework on their supply chains.

Give yourself the best chance of making it through this breakup by educating yourself on why it's oh so right for you and start personally engaging with what you buy. Embrace the good vibes that come with buying slow-made clothes and ethical fashion that actually means something. This is one surefire relationship that will never fail.

The Fashion Advocate x

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