Here are some easy ways to fight fast fashion in Exeter

How to shop more sustainably without spending your entire student loan

Shopping fashion more sustainably is an issue that has been brought to the forefront of many people’s minds in recent months. The fashion industry is considered one of the worst in terms of pollution and negative environmental impacts, and yet it remains so central to people’s lives.

Clothes are not only a necessity but a form of self-expression that hold an increasing amount of importance in society. Shopping more sustainably is often believed to be more expensive due to the pricier production methods and comparison to extremely cheap fast fashion brands.

So how can we improve our sustainability when buying clothes and stay true to our personal style? Here are my top tips for curating a more sustainable wardrobe in Exeter, on a university budget:

Discover more affordable sustainable brands, like Sancho’s on Fore Street

Fast fashion brands are one of the most detrimental aspects of the fashion industry in regard to the environment. Their production methods and constant flow of trend items that are not meant to last, means that shopping these items are not only bad for the environment in terms of their production and the disposability of them, but they actually cost you more than investing in a better quality item.

Some incredible and sustainable brands that offer competitive prices include Weekday, Komodo and Birdsong.

Weekday is a Swedish brand who have announced that from 2020 onwards, all of their cotton products will be made of recycled or organic cotton, and they have been using recycled materials for their swimwear since 2017. These initiatives come amongst many other sustainability policies that they have in place currently and ones planned out for the future. Their prices are extremely reasonable, with T-shirts costing as little as £8 and jeans from £30.

Komodo is labelled ‘the original ethical fashion brand’ and have been dedicated to making eco friendly clothes since 1988. They use natural, organic and eco fibres, all of their products are cruelty free, many of them vegan, and they are working towards having no single-use plastics in their supply chain. Not only are the clothes sustainable, but the brand donates to the Sumatran Orangutan Society who work towards the restoration of rainforests and ecosystems that have been damaged and destroyed.

Birdsong is a London-based brand who ethically source their clothes, particularly focusing on the issue of female sweatshop workers. They pay all of their workers a London living wage or if the women choose to do so their revenue is donated back into their supporting charities. As well as this incredible ethical cause, Birdsong works with Traid, a charity that works to reuse clothes that would otherwise be thrown away, to make clothes from second-hand fabrics. In addition to using sustainable, natural and organic fabrics where possible, most of their products are manufactured with UK women’s groups to reduce airmiles.

Exeter is home to an amazing sustainable fashion shop, Sancho’s on Fore Street, who prioritise both the environmental impact of the clothes they stock and how ethically they were produced. Alongside this, they value affordability when it comes to sustainable fashion.

Be aware of the more sustainable options available from fast fashion brands, like H&M and Zara in the High Street

This one may sound obvious, but many people are still unaware of the sustainability projects that high street brands have in place. Many shops now have more sustainable collections or various initiatives in place, and although these may not be perfect, they are important to look out for and act as a great way to ease your way into shopping more conscientiously. Some popular brands that have put forward these initiatives include ASOS, H&M, COS and Zara, and although they are not completely sustainable brands, these projects are something to look out for.

ASOS have a section on their website called ‘The Responsible Edit’ in which you can filter your results based on whether they are made from sustainable materials’ or recycled materials.

COS recently introduced its ‘COS Restore’ range which offers repaired items from their collections at a 30% discount from the original prices. This system not only reduces waste but the amount of money coming out of your pocket, a great option for shopping more sustainably on a student budget. They also label their products as a sustainable fabric if the item is made from more than 50% sustainable fibres, making it easier to make a more conscientious decision when shopping.

Curate a Capsule Wardrobe

The best way to be more sustainable in fashion is to shop less, but nobody wants to do that. However, a capsule wardrobe creates a system that will hopefully fulfil all of your wardrobe wants and satisfy your retail cravings whilst limiting your spending.

A capsule wardrobe acts as a simplified wardrobe consisting of less items but ones that you love and wear a lot. There are a lot of so-called ‘rules’ to a capsule wardrobe, but one reason people find so much success with capsule wardrobes is because they are able to make their own rules to fit in with their life and their wardrobe. Some rules could include the famous #30Wears test, coined by Livia Firth, encouraging us to only buy and item if we know we will wear it at least 30 times, or a ‘one in, one out’ system, where with every time of clothing you buy you have to donate, sell or recycle another.

This minimalist approach means that you could have more money to invest in more sustainable pieces that may cost more than fast fashion prices, or you could just save more money to use on other things, meaning that this process is not only beneficial to the environment, but also to your wardrobe and your bank balance.

Shop vintage or second-hand items – try Sobeys on Gandy Street

Shopping vintage has never been easier, and it is a fantastic way to shop more sustainably. In addition to this, the choice to shop vintage or second-hand can add something more unique, or simply something that isn’t as common in fashion at the moment, to your wardrobe.

We are very lucky to be living in the age of Depop, as vintage items can be found online and delivered right to your door. Vintage shops are also found very easily in towns and cities for items, such as jeans, that you may want to try on rather than order online. Shopping second-hand and vintage items gives new life to otherwise wasted pieces and can be a great way to embellish your wardrobe.

Some amazing vintage and charity shops in Exeter include: Sobeys on Gandy Street and The Real McCoy in McCoy’s Arcade (which sells Levi’s jeans for just £20). You should also check out The Vintage Kilo Sale which will be returning to Exeter on April 5th and entry costs as little as £1.50. This event boasts a variety of vintage items from the 1970s and works on a system of weight, in which 1 kilo of clothes will cost you £15, but there is no minimum weight, and so if you bag yourself a light item you are sure to get a bargain!

Repair or alter items that are broken or do not fit

Now, this last tip may not be for everyone and may take some practice, but if your clothes have some minor issue then it’s worth trying to fix this before buying a replacement. If a belt loop on your jeans has come loose then try and sew it back on (or find someone who can), or if the waist of a skirt is too loose then try taking it in or getting it tailored.

Of course if the item is damaged beyond repair then it may be time to say goodbye, but minor issues can often easily be resolved rather than having to buy a replacement.

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