3 ways to make your affordable fast fashion clothes last longer

3 ways to make your affordable fast fashion clothes last longer
File photo: Two women with shopping bags walking along Orchard Road.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

For the two years or so, I have been preaching about how everyone should stop mindlessly shopping and start going by the mantra, 'buy less, invest more'.

I wanted to change the way I shop because I was so alarmed at the amount of clothing we consume per year. According to the documentary, The True Cost, the world consumes 80 billion pieces of clothing per year; and in America alone, they annually send 10 million tons of clothing to the dump!

And if you are wondering how such a ridiculous amount of clothing can be produced and sold at such a low cost, here's the caveat: The burden of the cost is taken from the people (usually in developing countries) who work under vile labour conditions with low pay.

While I am no environmentalist, I felt very guilty that I was contributing to the problem. But, what's a trend-conscious shopper like me with a limited clothing budget got to do? Fast (and cheap) fashion stores allow me to refresh my wardrobe every season without creating a huge dent in my wallet.

I started googling to find out how I can quit buying fast fashion, most of the advice I gathered was this: Save up for a pair of expensive jeans from a high-end designer instead of buying 5 cheap pairs in the course of a year.

These designer pieces are made from high quality materials, have a better fit and will last longer. It also plays into the psychological side of things that because it's so expensive that it hurts, you will think harder and longer before you bust out your credit cards.

While that might be true, it's really challenging to go by that theory! It's not easy to find a perfect dress or blouse that justifies the high price tag all the time. Sometimes you just have wardrobe gaps to fill immediately.

Then I realised that the only way to do this was to change the way I consume, instead of simply swearing off fast fashion completely.

Here are my three wardrobe commandments that I abide by religiously:

1. Set strict shopping boundaries

Before you embark on a shopping trip, have a think about what you are intending to buy in stores and stick with that list. You should buy to fill wardrobe gaps instead of just buying something for the thrill of it.

You might also consider revisiting some long lost items in your closet to see if you really need to buy those pieces. Remember, the visual merchandising is real. It creates new (and unwanted) desire to purchase everything you see on the racks.

2. What to avoid and buy

Items you might want to avoid would be obvious runway knockoffs, overtly trendy pieces, or something that sports flamboyant colours or prints because you might get sick of them after a couple of wears. Embellished pieces are also not advisable because they usually get damaged really quickly.

Instead, look out for natural materials like cotton, silk and wool. These materials withstand wear and washing better, so you get more mileage out of these pieces.

3. Take good care of your clothes

Treat all your clothes with love and care, no matter how much you paid for it. Consider hand washing and line-drying them instead of leaving them to the machines. That better prevents shrinkage, wrapping and colour loss.

If there's a snag or tear, you can easily mend it by sewing it up or bringing it to your neighbourhood tailor who will do it for a couple of dollars instead of just tossing them and buying another piece.

Conclusion

Fast fashion clothing has always been given the bad name that it's extremely badly made and will never be able to withstand the test of time. Speaking from my personal experience, I am glad to declare that as false.

I have many fast fashion pieces that are still going strong despite the fact that I've worn them for years. As long as buy thoughtfully and shower them with some TLC, there's no reason why you can't make a pair of $59.90 jeans last for years.

Don't let a price tag determine the worth of a clothing. It's more about this pieces can work for you in the long run.

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