By: Elizabeth Franco
Growing up finding my sense of style wasn’t always easy. In high school, there was a norm of how other girls would dress and I often felt that I wasn’t fitting into what others wore. As I became friends with my best friend, Juliana, she exposed me to the world of fashion as she was always influenced by her family’s fashion sense. She helped me feel confident in clothes and taught me that I didn’t have to fit in with others wore. I then developed my own love for fashion and sense of style. Now, I can’t really describe my style, as every outfit I put on represents how I want to feel on that day. I love feeling feminine in my outfits and embracing my womanhood through my choice of clothing.
While shopping at these fast fashion stores may keep you on track with the latest trends, there are lasting effects on our environment’s resources and the health of garment workers.
My favorite thing about fashion is being able to express myself through my style and feeling creative whenever I put together outfits. Through the years, as I’ve grown, so has my fashion sense. When my love for fashion originally started, I would buy clothes as cheap as I could as I was only a teenager, but for the past couple of years, I’ve spent time researching the fast fashion industry. I’ve come to realize that fast fashion companies produce clothing products frequently at a cheap price due to the use of unethical labor practices. While shopping at these fast fashion stores may keep you on track with the latest trends, there are lasting effects on our environment’s resources and the health of garment workers. The fast fashion industry is the second largest polluter in our world as they emit 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent every year. This industry produces 20% of global wastewater and 40 million people work as garment workers in our world, most of whom are women and children. The conditions the workers have to work under is terrible for their health as they work long hours in warehouses where they often are breathing in toxic fumes. When I learned that by 2030 the fast fashion industry is expected to increase by 60% I knew that I had to make changes to my habits as a consumer. We can all decrease the manufacturing of clothing if people decrease their consumption by secondhand shopping.
In high school, I started to thrift, but as I entered college I knew I had to take my commitment a step further by only shopping secondhand. So I turned to online second-hand shops such as eBay, Depop, as well as local thrift stores in order to stop purchasing from any fast fashion stores. Now, 95% of my closet and room décor have been purchased used. People ask me for advice on how to stop purchasing from fast fashion companies and the advice I give is to try to find the style of items you like or want on secondhand online stores such as eBay. Also, I tell them to try going to their local thrift store and see how you can make clothing fit your style in your own way. Additionally, a lot of thrift stores are charities, which means they give back to our communities which is even more incentive to purchase.
The biggest change in fashion that I would like to see is the emphasis people place on brands. A lot of influences highlight designer products, which leads much of their younger following to want to spend a fortune on designer items. I want the younger generation to understand that a great sense of style doesn’t have to mean putting expensive clothing pieces together. Fashion is what you make of the pieces you have and could afford to express yourself in your own way. Fashion doesn’t just come from flaunting designer pieces, but rather the creative process of putting together clothing items that make you feel confident. Shopping at thrift stores helps you find one of a kind pieces that will stray you away from the crowd and showcase your individuality.