disposable fashion is depressing

‘Everybody looks like clones and the only people you notice are my age. I don’t notice anybody unless they look great, and every now and again they do, and they are usually 70. We are so conformist, nobody is thinking. We are all sucking up stuff, we have been trained to be consumers and we are all consuming far too much.

~Vivienne Westwood


I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time and finally a single garment caused me to start typing.

Disposable fashion (or fast fashion) is apparel that is produced quickly and cheaply.  (Think Forever 21, etc.)  I’ve been guilty of purchasing disposable fashion as have most of you.  In the past I’ve tried to stay away from it, simply because I didn’t want to look like everyone else.  Being the fashion snob that I am, I shuddered at the thought of going out to dinner and seeing a girl across the room wearing my exact outfit!

That being said you probably remember this jacket that I photographed a couple weeks ago.

I saw this jacket on Pinterest and thought it was the cutest little thing.  After tracking it down and seeing that it was made in China I hesitated — I was concerned that I was dealing with sweatshop apparel.  A statement on the website insisted that they did not participate in such activity, so I hit the purchase button and a week and a half later my package arrived.

Due to the price, I didn’t expect much.  It arrived well packaged and they even threw in a free Santa hat.  As I tried on the coat I noticed the fit was off… as was the seams.  The fabric was sturdy, but the buckle was crooked.  The piece was executed well enough that I was probably the only one that would notice.  I had my mom inspect it and she was quite shocked that a jacket could made, let alone executed decently, for $33.

Growing up with a mother who is an amazing seamstress, I learned what a well-made garment looked like.  My mother has always looked down upon fast fashion — fast fashion to her was taking a pattern and creating a piece that looked like it came off the runway.  To her there should be an art to fashion and it should involve pride of workmanship.  Naturally, I adapted that attitude towards fashion as well.  But sometimes when you see something inexpensive and cute it’s hard to resist!

I remember my roommate in the dorm had a closet full of new clothing with the tags still attached.  She never even wore half of the items!  The clothes were just so cheap she thought, why not?  The average American buys sixty-four pieces of apparel per year.  That means a new piece of clothing every 5 days!  I LOVE to shop, but that statistic really blew me away.  Constantly, I’m looking and studying fashion online but that doesn’t mean I always purchase.

I’ve always been a quality over quantity kind of girl.  I would much rather have one beautiful cashmere sweater than 10 sweaters made from cheap synthetic fibers (that will eventually fall apart).  When you look at my blog you will notice that I wear pieces over and over again.  The fun for me is finding new ways to wear the garments I love.  This post is not to trash the companies that produce cheap fashions or the people who wear them.  This post is to get you to rethink what you put on every day and what you are supporting.

Currently, I’m reading the book Deluxe and focusing more of my time to learning about how and where clothing is made.  This book focus on the rise of sweatshops and counterfeit bags. In the past, I have been contacted to do projects with companies that I suspect use sweatshops and have turned them down.  This doesn’t make me some kind of fashion saint, but it does let you know I only promote what I believe it.  In that respect, I feel guilty for promoting the jacket above and for taking a pretty picture in something I didn’t believe in.  I’ve thought about returning it to prove a point but paying $18 to return a $33 jacket seems silly, and I’d much rather donate it and have it worn by someone who needs it.

Wonderland, like me, is constantly growing and changing.  My goal is to be more responsible about what I purchase and promote.  The website Save The Garment Center provides a list of designers who produce all or a majority of their goods in the USA, and luckily the list is filled with many of my favorite designers.  This being said I don’t expect everyone to stop shopping at H&M and Topshop, just realize that for the 10 knockoffs that you buy you could of had the real thing.

Ps.  I will still shop at Zara once and a while.  I love it so.

Pps.  While everyone agrees that sweatshops are bad, what if everyone stopped purchasing items that were produced there?  Would the workers starve or would companies be forced to raise their wages in order to get customers back?  Just a little food thought.

  • Ginny Sevier

    Great post, Allie! I’ve admired your sense of fashion since we became friends 4 years ago. You always look impeccable and are a fashion inspiration! 🙂 that being said, I am guilty of being a fast fashion consumer. Having two kids, I don’t have a lot of extra disposable income at the end of every month for designer clothing or something that isn’t fast fashion. (I think I need sewing lessons from your Mum! ;-)) sometimes buying a new top or dress gives a tiny sense of autonomy again and doing something just for me, even if it is cheap. I suppose I could just start saving my $$ for nicer things. Anyway, I think the reason the majority of American goods are made in China is because of the regulations and taxes imposed on American small businesses. So, business have no where to turn but to cheap, fast labor. Unfortunately it is mostly in China or India. Labor unions in the U.S. make it difficult on business owners nowdays – they have come along way in the wrong direction from their original intent. Anyway, this is just my opinion. I loved the post. And I too, need to stop supporting clothes that are probably made in sweatshops. That’s a horrifying thought. Thanks for the food for thought. 🙂

  • Ally

    Thank you for leaving such a detailed comment, and I’m soooo happy you brought this up!
    I completely agree with you. (In a way the US really created the “need” for sweatshops…but this is something I want to write about later.) My real problem is with the companies who buy clothing out out of China and Hong Kong slap their label on it and make an 80 to 90 percent profit off of it. And sadly major designers have been accused of using sweatshop labor! The system is just messed up. I love the rise of etsy and responsible trade, this post is just to get everyone to thinking.

  • Well reasoned and well written! I definitely agree with you – every time I “cave” to fast fashion, I get one wear (if that) and then the piece either falls apart, goes out of style or – like you said – you see it on everyone else. I will join you in being more thoughtful about shopping.

  • Melissa

    I loved the post 🙂

  • bre sheppard

    OMG! How fun to look back on when you first began blogging – and I love this post! So interesting and definitely something to think about. A piece of clothing ever 5 days YIKES haha!