Opinion: Is fast fashion ethical if it’s purchased second hand?
Thrift shops are a haven for antique furniture, designer labels and vintage purses. But what happens when your must-have item is made by a fast fashion retailer or is made from animal fur or skin? If you’re purchasing it pre-loved, does it make it ethical?
Follow the Money
Every cent counts. As consumers, we make ethical statements based on how we spend our money. If we’re purchasing pre-loved clothing and accessories from thrift stores, we’re choosing to support our local community - not a fast fashion retailer. Even if the label might say otherwise, the money spent on these items don’t go into the pocket of these corporations.
Shopping at second-hand stores saves apparel and accessories that would otherwise go into landfills. Even if the clothing is made by fast fashion retailer, you’re extending the average life of that garment and reducing the impact it has on the environment. And in the case of animal furs and skins, these garments are made to stand the test of time. If well taken cared of, a fur coat can last up to 50-60 years! Dumping perfectly usable garments into landfills because of their origins is more unsustainable than wearing them out.
The moment you step out into the street, you have the power to influence. Just think of how many times you’ve been inspired by a friend’s or stranger’s outfit. Sometimes you don’t even need to cross paths, you simply need to scroll through your Instagram. The point is that while you’ve made the effort to go thrift shop hunting, not everyone will. It’s much easier for them to head straight to the mall to recreate the look instead.
Not all secondhand apparel is sustainable. Sustainability isn’t just giving a piece of clothing a new lease on life, it’s choosing things built to last. Unfortunately, many fast fashion retailers are synonymous with poor quality, because of their focus on the bottom line. This means that most of what you find in these stores are made quickly with a focus on getting it into stores ASAP instead of creating a garment made to last several years.
Mend or Spend
Do you really need that ‘must-have’ item or can you mend or repair an item you already own? Instead of buying something new (or rather, secondhand), take your well-loved garment or pair of shoes to the tailor or cobbler.
We’ve shared our top pros and cons for secondhand fast fashion and animal furs and skins, but we want to hear what you think. What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment below!