I'm Breaking Up With Fast Fashion—and It's Not Been Easy

Like any on-again, off-again relationship, my long-time love affair with fast fashion is a complicated one. It feels like a million years ago when we met, but the more I got to know about fast fashion, I felt it just wasn't right for me. As I began to understand its detrimental social and environmental impacts (one viewing of The True Cost on Netflix is very enlightening), I've been trying my best to shop sustainably. I've always loved vintage and thrift shopping, but increasingly buying secondhand has become my true love and fast fashion, my mistress.

Like with any breakup, I'm trying to shift my focus onto the positive. Shopping smaller brands, especially on Instagram, brings me so much joy. I recently bought a top from Maison Cléo, which was £90 (the equivalent of two mid-range high-street tops) that I wear on repeat. Every time I pull it out, I love telling the story about chatting with the designer in my DMs. This kind of value is something I could never get from a quick high-street fix. I feel similarly about all of my vintage pieces, and I've channelled my love of shopping into hunting down the best pieces on Vestiaire Collective, eBay, or charity shops. I'm still careful about what I choose to invest in, but when I do, I relish the story that comes with each unique piece. In turn, I feel reluctant to get rid of one of these treasures when I do a wardrobe clearout.

I try not to judge myself in the rarer moments that I do shop fast fashion; the point is not to feel guilty, like I've failed or given in. I just try to ask myself why I am doing it; do I genuinely love the piece and will I wear it over and over? If I do shop on the high street, I try to take a step back out of the impulse of the moment by checking where the piece was made and what materials it's made from. If I'm shopping online, I wish list an item and try to return to it a week or two later to see how it feels. I am still reconciling my relationship with the high street, and below are the pieces I'm having a harder time quitting. Keep scrolling to see which pieces are the hardest to let go of and how I am hoping to change these habits.