Since breaking up with fast fashion a couple of years ago, I haven't really looked back. Aside from underwear (I'm working on that part), I pretty much avoid the high street entirely. I really thought I would miss it and, other than the odd temptation from Uniqlo U, it's been much easier than I thought. The thing I was worried about the most was finding affordable alternatives for my more sustainable lifestyle. Because for years and years, the narrative around fast fashion has been that it is the democratic and more affordable choice.
But when I stopped to think about the number of times I've had to re-buy something because it had fallen apart, versus the pieces I had bought vintage or saved up for, it didn't actually feel like I was saving that much. For example, I had bought a pair of gold hoops from the high street, on repeat at least seven times because they turn green. At £10, I could've bought one pair at £70 that don't fall apart after six months. I also considered how much I was spending. Two tops in Zara often set me back about £80, which is actually quite a lot. In looking at some of my favourite small, ethical brands, there wasn't actually a huge price difference.
So here is how I've figured out to how avoid fast fashion affordably, which has been especially difficult when most charity shops are closed intermittently this year (although, hot tip, Oxfam online is full of treasures!). Of course, it is important to recognise that not everyone can quit fast fashion, and more sustainable, affordable options need to be available to all and in all sizes. But these are some of my tips that have helped me and I think will get you started if you just don't know where to begin.
HELLO EBAY, MY OLD FRIEND
To the non-believers, I am here to convince you of the wonders that is eBay. How do I love eBay? Let me count the ways. In fact, I am writing to you while wearing a pair of Ugg boots I found on eBay for £10. To those asking, yes, it's the best thing I ever did. Over the course of the last year, I've not only found some amazing pieces at great prices, but I've also saved up for more expensive designer pieces by selling less-used clothes in my wardrobe.
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore wearing a Jacquemus polka dot blazer from eBay.
If you are still unconvinced (I know there are eBay sceptics out there, and that's okay!), here are some highlight purchases of the year. I am almost always able to find core Marks and Spencer items, so rather than buying it new on the high street, I found the ribbed roll necks I love for £4. I also found an H&M roll neck from 2009 for £1 that I lost in a break up. 2009! On the other end of the price spectrum, I found a runway Jacquemus jacket from the Provence collection (pictured above) for £100.
Remember that eBay is not just about auctions, you can often "Buy It Now" or send in an offer. I recommend eBay for many things, but I've had the most luck looking for vintage Marks & Spencer or Jaeger (a cashmere gold mine) and Acne for basics.
ETSY, OH ETSY
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore wearing 80s dress and 50s bag from Etsy with Maryam Nassir Zadeh pumps.
Once one is initiated in the great depths of Etsy, it's hard to return. Careful, friends, it is dangerously wonderful. I've had dreams about pieces of clothing and somehow Etsy vintage dealers manifest them. I kid you not. Etsy is my favourite place to hunt down vintage trends, like kitsch knitted jumpers or Laura Ashley. My favourite finds this summer was an 80s cotton dress (£30) and clasp leather handbag from the '50s (£5) that I wore to my best friend's wedding.
FEELING FANCY ON VESTIAIRE COLLECTIVE
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore wearing vintage YSL dress and secondhand Maryam Nassir Zadeh pumps.
This year, I made an effort to really try and save up to buy less and buy better. I've found that vintage designer pieces are the ones I wear the most and made sure to try and remember that.
I love the vintage section of Vestiaire Collective and have found some amazing pieces on there this year, all under £100. From this Yves Saint Laurent dress (£70) to Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes (both pictured above), to a pair of Issey Miyake Pleats Please trousers (£80) I've been longing for years, it's been a great treasure trove this year. Don't forget you can also put in offers on items and negotiate lower prices.
AND SHOP SMALL
Photo:Isabel Mundigo-Moore wearing Uants top, and vintage Issey Miyake trousers from Vestiaire Collective.
Last, but not least, shop small. I love finding small brands on Instagram and being able to DM the designers directly. Because of small production and limited batches, a lot brands now are able to keep prices affordable. I always look to Joan the Store and inNEOSS to discover other small brands too.
Miss Crofton makes such gorgeous lingerie in their London-based studio.
This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.
Opening image: Who What Wear