Why I’m Ditching My Fast Fashion Habit in 2017

Hello, sweet friends, and welcome to the newly designed Downtown Demure!

I’m so excited to share this post with you as it has been on my heart for years now. Like many of you, I spent the first few weeks of January meditating on my goals for the new year. I ended up with a laundry list of goals for my little online space. I plan to write more at least 7 more style-enhancing tutorial posts, like the posts you loved in my Style 101 series. I plan to collaborate more with other modest fashion bloggers (so you’ll see less of my mug and more of theirs). I even plan to enter the (slightly frightening) world of Youtube.  Once I narrowed down my list, I quickly realized that these goals are perhaps the most important:

To be a more conscious consumer and to stop buying and promoting fast fashion.

I’ve considered quitting fast fashion for years now, but I’ve honestly been too selfish to commit. I know such a goal may alienate readers who don’t share my sentiments on fast fashion, lead to fewer collaboration opportunities, and will require a complete 180 in my deal-oriented, Zara-centric shopping habits. Successfully reaching this goal will honestly be difficult…but it’s time.

Why am I committing to this goal so hardcore? The statistics I’ve learned over the years are haunting.

Over 97% of clothes sold in the US is made abroad (in countries with less strict labor laws and regulations)

Americans throw away 13 TONS of clothing every year. Only a small percentage of that clothing gets recycled or donated. And that number is rising.

The above number is not an accident. Fast fashion retailers intentionally sell poorly constructed clothing because such clothing is a) cheap to produce and b) lead to increased purchases because consumers have to replace clothing more often. http://www.npr.org/2013/03/11/174013774/in-trendy-world-of-fast-fashion-styles-arent-made-to-last.

The average hourly wage for garment workers in developing countries is appalling. In Bangladesh it’s $0.24, in Cambodia it’s $0.45, in Pakistan it’s $0.52, in Vietnam it’s $0.53, and in China it’s $1.26.

Garment workers are often dying from poor work conditions and dismal pay. The Rana Plaza factory collapse and the mass fainting of garment workers in Cambodia are all examples of this sad reality.  

Even more haunting facts are expertly illustrated in this excellent infographic from Alexandra Heinz:

From a deeply personal perspective, I finally acknowledged WHY I was so reluctant to give up my fast-fashion habit: I was insecure. I was worried if I didn’t keep up with at least some of the 50+ micro trends that arise every year (thanks a lot, Zara), I would become irrelevant as a fashion blogger. I’d check Instagram weekly and notice a sea of fashion bloggers looking flawless in their OTK boots, bell-sleeve sweaters, velvet everything, etc., and eventually felt I needed to do the same. I didn’t want to pay big bucks for fleeting trends, so I’d shop for such items at places like Zara, Boohoo, and H&M, where I could get them for less than $25 bucks a pop. I recognize how silly and problematic a fear of fashion irrelevancy is, particularly as a Christian fashion blogger who encourages others to embrace their faith and god-honoring wardrobe in spite of cultural norms and demands. Now, I feel less inclined to shop for trendy goods as I grow more confident in my personal style and less interested in accumulating stuff. I want OUT of that cycle of weekly micro-trends marketing gimmicks that lead to little aside from discontent with my wardrobe. I no longer want invest in companies that don’t make products at the expense of human lives and dignity. If money talks, I want mine to speak boldly in support of brands that don’t sacrifice human dignity and wellbeing for increased profits.

My lovely readers, please note that I’m not writing this post to widely cast judgment upon those who continue to shop at fast-fashion stores. I’m merely sharing my personal revelations…because I have to keep it 100 with you!
In the spirit of keeping it 100, here’s a list of what I’m committed to doing on Downtown Demure as I seek to ditch my fast-fashion habit:

I will not purchase cheap, fast fashion items for DD photoshoots. I can be borderline OCD when prepping for photo shoots. I have very specific looks I want to achieve, so I sometimes seek out specific items to complete my desired look. My desire for perfect often led me to purchase cheap, fast fashion items simply to build an outfit I found aesthetically pleasing. I realize now that’s a wasteful and dishonest approach, and I will cut it out for 2017.

I will vet brands I collaborate with. Before agreeing to work with a brand, I will ask them two important questions: who made my clothes and how are they treated at work?

I will utilize fashion resale services before buying brand new clothing. Guys, I tried… but I just can’t get into shopping at physical thrift stores. The lack of organization and amount of clutter in most of them overwhelm me; I often walk in a thrift store and run out thirty seconds later empty handed. That’s why I’m SO grateful for the advent of clothing re-sale sites and services like ThredUp and Poshmark (Shameless plug: here is my closet. You can get $5 off your first purchase with code BNFRG). In an effort to reduce clothing waste, I will utilize those services BEFORE buying brand new clothing.

I will promote more fair trade, ethical, brands. In fact, I have a few collabs with ethical brands hitting Downtown Demure in the next few months I think y’all will love. The only downside is the clothes will typically be more expensive than the cheap, fast-fashion clothing I’ve featured on here before, but they will also last longer and hopefully encourage more conscious shopping.

I also think it’s important to share what I do not promise to do on here:

I will not discontinue shooting fast fash items. You will continue to see items from fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M because they currently comprise 60% of my closet (and throwing away or discarding wearable clothing is both cray cray and harmful to the environment). However, you won’t see me encouraging you to buy those items unless I purchased them through a resale service or online thrift store.

Pursuing my conscious shopping goal is ultimately a journey that I’ve only just begun. I have much to learn and I will likely make a few mistakes along the way. I ask that you be gracious to me as I pursue this goal and as I continue to share my thoughts and progress. Up next week:  I will share my loose plan for my transition from fast fashion consumer to an ethical brand supporter.

ARE YOU ON THE SAME ETHICAL FASHION JOURNEY? I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU IN THE COMMENTS BELOW (AND PLEASE SHARE SOME TIPS IF YOU’RE AN ETHICAL FASHION PRO!)

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Amy
    01/23

    Wow! Thank you so much for your honesty about this new commitment you’re making! i can imagine how hard it would be to do something like this. I’m starting a fashion degree this year, because i really see the need for more modest clothing over here in australia… and so i really admire your step of courage here! i’ll be praying for you as you stick to this goal, thanks for inspiring me 🙂

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Amy
      01/24

      Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement, Amy, and even more so for your prayers! I will need a great deal of guidance from Him through this transition. I admire your desire to create modest clothing in Australia! Please stop by from time and time and update me on your journey. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Ashley
    01/23

    I am so incredibly happy to hear this! You’re a beautiful person–inside and out–which is what makes you stand apart and shine bright within the blog world. I’m glad to see we’re on the same page, and I wish more of us felt this way! xx Ash
    The Yellow Petunia

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Ashley
      01/24

      Ashley, your sweet comment just made me blush! Thank you for the love and encouragement. I’m so grateful to have another source of support in this ethical fashion journey. Would love to know if you have particular fashion companies or organizations you support.

  • Avatar
    jodie filogomo
    01/23

    I think this is a great goal! And really like you pointed out—not something that can happen overnight. But I also believe in supporting the smaller businesses around me (even if some of their clothing is from other countries)—I want these people to succeed!!
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    jodie filogomo recently posted…Bundling Up With a Long Coat Over Your Maxi SkirtMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > jodie filogomo
      01/24

      Thank you, Jodie! I agree 100% about supporting local businesses that source clothing from other countries. As long as their operations are fair and ethical, I view it as a way support economic growth and (hopefully) career opportunities in multiple parts of the world. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Taylor Jones
    01/23

    I LOVe this! you are being such a good example and encouraging me to do better! last year around this time I watched ‘the true cost’ and was absolutely astonished at working conditions of laborers over seas. I made a pledge to do better, but I let that slip as the year went on and I was really bad about it around the holidays. thredUP has been a huge savior for me too, I literally get almost all of my clothes from there now! but this post is making me want to really think about my purchases as well as just be content with the stuff i have instead of constantly wanting more. thank you for this!

    -Taylor
    Taylor Jones recently posted…How To: Create an Epic BarretteMy Profile

  • Avatar
    Anair
    01/23

    Hi Liz!
    Im from panama ( latin america) Hola! I love you blog and be way you encourage girls to persue modesty, when I begun on faith I was really worry that i had to dress like a grandma, but then i begun to find inspiration like in your blog , thanks for that. I year ago i SAW A DOCUMENTAL ABOUT THAT ( THE TRUE COST) I WAS REALLY IMPACT ABOUT THAT AND BEGIN TI LOOK FOR SUSTAINABLE CHRISTIAN FASHION BLOGGERS AND I WAS IMPRESS THAT THERE WASNT A CHRISTIAN FASHION BLOGGER TALKING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT , I BELIVE AS A CHRISITAN WOMAN TO BE COVER IS NOT THE ONLY THINK THAT SHOULD MATTERS, BUT ALSO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR THAT PERSONS THAT SUFFER SO MUCH ONLY FOR US TO HVAE CHEAO CLOTH, AND US LIKE CHRISITAN SHOULD SHOW MERCY FOR THEM AND BE A VOICE FOR THEM. tHANKS FOR BEGGINING THIS JOURney Im really happy Liz!

  • Avatar
    Kathy
    01/23

    How exciting! i love this.

  • Avatar
    Angela
    01/23

    i loved this. I’ve never given much thought to the ethics behind fashion. Good read!

  • Avatar
    Allison @ The tall mama
    01/23

    I applaud you! I too have ditched fast fashion, however am Blessed with a compulsive need to sew so can make most of my own clothes. I focus a lot on ethically made fabrics, which have even less transparency than clothing manufacturers. I look forward to following and encouraging your ethical clothing journey! X Allison thetallmamstyle.blogspot.com

  • Avatar
    Beth @ Tallfashionadventures
    01/23

    Hello! First time reader here and my blogger friend Allison from The Tall Mama blog told me about your website. I really admire the commitment you’re making and am excited to follow your journey. In 2016, I was inspired by a post on Allison’s blog and embarked on a similar journey. It has been a combo of hard, interesting and exciting! One of the exciting parts is finding bloggers who have already been on the ethical shopping journey for awhile AND discovering bloggers like you who have decided to switch. Can’t wait to see which ethical brands you feature on your blog!
    Beth @ Tallfashionadventures recently posted…Thoughtful Shopping Switzerland Edition – Pink Maharani and I Love TallMy Profile

  • Avatar
    Emma Clarke
    01/23

    SO happy to hear this!! I’m always on the lookout for ethical fashion bloggers and after following you for a number of years now I’m so happy to hear you’ll be making the switch!!!

  • Avatar
    Hannah Smith
    01/24

    Woohoo!! I’m so happy that you’re doing this, Liz! Your stance on this is important as a fashion blogger, and I pray you will encourage others to do the same. As you probably know, I’m pretty passionate about this topic. 🙂 best of luck to you!

  • Avatar
    Randi
    01/24

    Hi Liz! So glad you’re doing this! I’m an ethical shopper by need because I can’t afford to buy new except for foundational pieces. So I shop thrift stores and consignment shops a lot. I’ve also used Thredup before. I also sew and people give me clothing, so I try to make everything work, but I’m not afraid to donate it or sell it if it doesn’t work for me. I’ve long thought about doing a fashion type blog, but like you, I just didn’t know if I could keep up with all of the trends. I just want to be me, the woman God made his daughter to be. I am so thrilled you’re going this way though because I want to follow women who seem more real, who let me know it’s okay not to be wrapped up in society and petty things of the world. People are more important that fashion any day!

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Randi
      02/09

      Hi Randi! I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply (my day job has kept me every busy these past few weeks). I just want to say THANK YOU for your sweet comment and commitment to human dignity. I would encourage you to share your fashion philosophies and style on Instagram, as it’s less expensive and less intense than blogging but you can still impact people and get them to reconsider fast fashion as the norm.

  • Avatar
    Care
    01/31

    This was suxh a great post. I am an advent thrifter and I have been working on a newsletter for my blog followers currently about this very topic. THis is painful and beautiful all at the same time. Fast fashion is common but it is truly unethical on so many levels. I hope to be able to work with you this year as I too am passionate about this very thing. http://www.fashionwithCare.com

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Care
      02/09

      You seem to be much further along in your ethical fashion journey, so it would be my pleasure to learn and work with YOU! Please, let’s stay in touch!

  • Avatar
    Amira
    02/02

    Wow! I am on a very similar journey right now! As I am learning more about this topic I find it increasingly difficult to shop at certain stores or buy into certain trends. I think the first step to anyone who is considering embarking on this journey is to wear what you have! Making the most of what you have, taking care of your clothes and being creative with how you wear them are huge steps we can take that cost nothing.

    I am so excited to read more about your progress. I hope to blog about mine as well but we shall see lol 🙂

    Love your blog, style, everything . Prayerfully you are still going strong on this journey!

    Much love, Amira X

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Amira
      02/09

      Thank you for your sweet comment! I agree wholeheartedly that the most ethical approach fashion and shopping is to wear the clothes we already have in our closets. It’s finding the missing pieces elsewhere that gets tricky. I’m learning it’s best to bypass most trends. Would love to stay connected as you grow in your ethical fashion journey as well!

      • Avatar
        Amira
        > Elizabeth
        02/13

        Yes! Missing pieces or even the declining quality of some of the pieces that one might already have! Somehow one of my opaque dresses is now see through at the bottom. I think I will turn it into a headscarf lol. Yes, I would love to stay connected, I follow you on just about everything (in a totally non-creepy way)!

        BTW, check out Everlane, they might have some pieces you like!

  • Avatar
    mrs leslie dawson
    02/06

    I love this philosophy and need to follow. I am 66yrs old and we need to watch expenses now. Do you have any web sites for these trendup online stores such as your thredup, here in Perth Western Australia. I don’t know where to start looking. Prayers to you and your help for us all. Leslie

  • Avatar
    LeNae
    02/15

    Thank you so much for providing this information. I have been on a journey to live cruelty-free for a few years, and this is the next step for me. Fast fashion has been something I have heard about recently, and I am glad to know more.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > LeNae
      02/17

      Happy to be of some assistance in your journey, LeNae, particularly since you are further along than me!

  • Avatar
    Huong
    02/24

    Wow, Elizabeth! You just totally talked about what I’ve been thinking about regarding fast fashion. I saw a video on my Facebook newsfeed (maybe part of a documentary?) about this and decided to stop buying fast fashion as hard as it is. I feel that it’s better to have a high quality and curated wardrobe of pieces I love that will last longer than to keep up with the trends. If I’m going to do trends, I will find them at consignment shops instead. Again, SO glad I found you! xo

    She Sweats Diamonds
    Huong recently posted…New York, New York :: Weekend Birthday TripMy Profile

  • Avatar
    Forrest
    03/13

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    Forrest recently posted…ForrestMy Profile

  • Avatar
    William16
    06/07

    Hi, do you allow guest posting on downtowndemure.com ? 🙂 Please let me know on my e-mail