How circular fashion can help you save (and earn) money during the cost of living crisis
Jtwo years ago, when the pandemic first hit, i started to do some spring cleaning in all aspects of my life. From sanitizing cupboards and food items to streamlining book collections, my whole life has been overhauled. But the last thing to lose was my wardrobe. I quickly realized that, like many, I was slipping into the same pair of jeans, then joggers and occasionally shorts during the first lockdown, so what was the need for all my unused clothes? Without realizing it, I had integrated the buzzword “circular”.
Circular fashion offers a way to minimize waste in production, but it also promotes the idea of buying less to reduce the amount of materials in landfills. At its core, circular fashion aims to produce clothes that will be used for human consumption for as long as possible. And, when the owner of said clothes is done with his garment, he will give it away, sell it or recycle it.
If confinement has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t have to spend money to look great. It forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate the clothes I already had in my closet, the amount of items I had bought on a whim that were just taking up space. Coming out of lockdown and in a financial crisis, my clothing choices were even more scrutinized, and I decided I needed to curb my impulse buying habit. Promising myself to sell and donate my backlog of unsuitable items, I swore to myself to only buy used items.
I started to get into the resale mindset and over time I was able to assess my entire closet. Being my own closet warrior was hard work, but I felt pretty smug as my stack of outcasts grew. The result was a much more refined wardrobe, and the rediscovery of some hidden treasures that I had forgotten. All in all, it was surprisingly satisfying.
The fashion industry has also jumped on the circular fashion bandwagon in recent years, with rental companies lending designer clothes and ethically made clothing brands becoming increasingly popular. Seasonal fashion has been disrupted and it’s no longer essential to update your wardrobe every quarter or get a fashion fix fast. The pandemic kick-started a topsy-turvy view of clothing and encouraged us to be more creative, rather than just throwing something away because it was out of season. Here’s how to join the circular fashion club:
How to embrace circular fashion
Donate your clothes
More stores are offering recycling bins, so you can drop off items to get a discount on your purchases. If you’d rather know where your clothes come from, swap parties have become increasingly popular in recent years, as the appetite for dressing cheaply and sustainably has exploded.
At FashionLand, fashion designer Patrick McDowell collaborated with Global Fashion Exchange to host The Swap Shop to promote circular fashion at London Fashion Week 2020, and for the first time ever, industry insiders were able to get their mittens on the cast-offs of their colleagues.
Re-wear your outfit
As Kate Middleton has shown, it’s no longer a faux pas to wear something more than once.
One look at Tik Tok and Instagram, and it’s clear that everyone is a stylist when it comes to wearing clothes they already own, and they also talk openly about the fashion problem with the slave labor. These influencers may not realize their anti-consumer motivations in their quest for more likes, but Gen Z’s environmental concerns about slave labor and the future of the planet have exponentially helped to summon a market. resale and inspire others to adopt their look.
Be aware of where you buy online
Several high street shops stock custom and pre-loved clothing; Urban Outfitters has a range that reflects Americana nostalgia, and eBay even sponsors the island of love for the first time, contestants wearing pre-loved and pre-owned items, rather than a fast-fashion brand that dominated the wardrobe of previous seasons.
Fast fashion giant ASOS is also jumping on board. Earlier this month, she launched her second circular design collection alongside a trial partnership with Thrift+. Besides their circularity, the pieces behave like any on-trend fashion collection and are available in a full range of sizes, although each piece is unique.
If you have a favorite Levi’s style, check out Levi’s Second Hand, which exclusively stocks vintage and used denim, most of which was purchased from customers or sourced from vintage shops; and there’s a boom in tailors who have items you’ve got in the back of the closet but never took the time to get fixed.
Fortunately, the myth that you have to spend money to look good has been debunked. Yes of course you have an outlay and charity shops are becoming more savvy about ‘hot’ tags and pushing their prices up, with several of my local Brighton shops having ‘designer’ rails. But if you’re a label lover, wouldn’t you rather donate your money to the British Heart Foundation or the Mind charity than to TKMaxx?
For me, it’s the most convenient way to shop if you want to combine therapeutic shopping with respect for the planet. Used fashion means that clothes have a longer lifespan and promotes win-win circular fashion, and highlights the advantages of previously worn clothes, both in terms of style and durability.
If you’re more of an online shopper, there are a number of places to buy second-hand clothes from the comfort of your couch. Unconditional vintage fans will already know the Gem second-hand search engine, which is the bible for tracking down second-hand specifics. But why not try Depop or Vinted for size? Rebelle, ASOS Marketplace and Vestiaire Collective are also great options.