When to Shop, When to Not


It hit me recently that I’ve been covering ethical brands a lot and spending a good chunk of my time developing an ethical fashion shopping list. The more I write about ethical fashion, the more you’ve been asking for this type of resource. And while I don’t want to discredit this work, I fear I’ve been remiss in skipping the most important part of ethical shopping – the purchase decision process.

So, I’m taking a step back to heed a warning: buying from the brands I cover when you don’t need clothes – or worse, when you won’t actually wear them – defeats the purpose of ethical fashion.
Ethical brands exist for when our closets are void of something, not for when we feel like shopping as a pastime. I’m not saying clothes should be bland and uniform, quite the contrary actually. Clothes should make us feel like the best version of ourselves, as long as our ‘selves’ don’t have multiple personality disorder.

This reality hit me in the face the other day when I saw a teenage girl wearing this Reformation dress. She looked stunning, but that’s beside the point. She was much younger than the brand’s typical customer, especially considering Reformation’s high prices. This made me wonder if ethical brands are being treated as trendy now. Did her one-time good intentions lead her to search for ‘eco fashion’ in Google and, as a result, she gets bombarded by retargeting ads? Is she stockpiling Reformation clothes now?

I could have sized up the situation wrong, but either way, I see it as a sign to exercise caution. My fear is that this idea of ‘too much stuff’ will infiltrate ethical fashion. And, even worse, that my work covering brands will contribute to consumers treating them like fast fashion. This seriously keeps me up at night.

Here’s the lesson: If you want to be a more thoughtful consumer of fashion the biggest step you can take is to resist buying all together.
A better decision making process can help with this. But it’s a really nuanced thing to: (1) resist desire, and (2) to figure out which items fit your personal style, budget and standards. I’ve put together this list of questions that can help you decide when to shop, and when to not….to read the full article and to take part in a helpful survey you can print out that looks at your purchases, click here.

Kasi writes about ethical fashion for the mainstream consumer on The Peahen. She’s also a creative freelancer for change making brands. Tweet to her with #SlowDownMyClothes @PeahenBlog  or find her on Instagram. 

Image: Jarmoluk