Here are a few things you should know about me: I like shopping for clothes. I like saving money. And I believe in climate change (and I’m trying to do my own personal part in cutting back on my contribution to it)
Those three things are often at odds with each other. If you want to save money when buying clothes, you tend to buy cheaper products, which are often “fast fashion” items. Fashion in general has a massive impact on the planet, as the apparel industry is one of the biggest industrial polluters. Many fast fashion items are made from materials (usually plastics) that can release more pollutants into the water supply with each wash, or they just end up in a landfill when the pieces aren’t purchased or fall apart after a few wears, thanks to lackluster quality.
Since becoming more aware of the impact that the apparel industry has, I’ve tried to implement a few rules into my shopping habits:
1. Buy less
2. Buy better quality pieces that last longer
3. Choose natural fibers with a low eco-impact OR fibers produced sustainably OR fibers than can be recycled
4. Donate/recycle old clothes
5. Buy second-hand
In all, that mainly breaks down in the classic 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. I apply that to other aspects of my life, so I should apply it to fashion as well.
Of course, I’m not perfect! I sometimes shop at places like Forever 21 or Boohoo, stores that are known for fast fashion. Plus, I don’t make that much money, so I understand not being able to afford more environmentally friendly yet more expensive pieces. However, over the next few years, I really want to start investing in better quality clothing/accessories and reducing the amount that I buy.
Now, I’m a noted online shopper (another bad habit of mine) but I’ve started patronizing more environmentally conscious online-only stores. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to leave your own home to shop, you know? (Of course, the shipping process has its own environmental impact, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…)
If you’d like to know my current top sites & stores for sustainable fashion, read on!
For those of us trying to wean ourselves off of fast fashion, H&M Conscious is a good place to start. Typically known for its inexpensive clothing, H&M has been a fast fashion favorite for many, many years. However, with their new Conscious line of sustainable fashion, they’re starting to change the game.
According to their website, the new line consists of “organic and sustainable clothing” that offers “a variety of new wardrobe favorites – everything from soft knits and stylish t-shirts to the latest denim looks and comfortable underwear.” So essentially cute, comfortable basics. Nothing wrong with that!
Most pieces seem to go up to about a size US 14, which isn’t the best for size inclusivity, but they do have a few “plus size” options, up to a size US 26. It’s better than what a lot of mainstream brands offer, but it still has a long ways to go. They also sell men’s items, but I can’t speak to the size range.
I’ve bought a couple pieces from the line so far, mainly just basic long-sleeve shirts, and liked them. Back in the day, H&M was always my go-to store for basics, so it’s nice to know that I can return to them and shop their Conscious line.
ThredUp touts itself as the “largest online consignment and thrift store” and from what I’ve seen, that statement seems to hold up.
Shopping second-hand cuts down on textile waste, can be cheaper than buying something new, and gives items that may have simply been trashed another chance. Most of the stuff here is in perfect condition, and some of it is even new-with-tags, so if you’re looking to shop from thousands of brands—including designer—this is the place for you.
I’ve bought dresses, sweaters, skirts, and athletic wear from here before and commonly make use of their clean-out bags when it’s time for me to clear out my closet. Since it’s a consignment/thrift store, you can make a little money from the items you send in that they choose to sell. Or you can donate that money to charity!
For the items you send that they don’t resell, they “responsibly recycle” them. They’re not very transparent about that and I wish they’d offer a little more information, but it’s better than nothing.
As for sizing, I’ve seen clothes up to a women’s US 32, so there’s a little something for people of all sizes. They also sell men’s and children’s clothing, so you can dress the whole family.
“Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2.” Now that’s quite a tagline. There’s no denying that Reformation knows how to grab attention, from their words to their clothes.
I appreciate their transparency when it comes to sustainability and their commitment to sustainable fashion. Not to mention I’m in love with about 90% of the things they sell. I own two of their dresses and a sweater so far, and I honestly love everything. Great quality, comfortable, and totally classic (though they have some pretty cute “trendy” stuff as well).
That said, they’re not cheap. Certain dresses will run you upwards of $240 dollars, and even a basic t-shirt can cost about $30. However, they do partner with ThredUp, and the money you earn from consigning clothes there can be turned into credit for Reformation, which is awesome. They also have sales a few times a year, which is always a great time to buy. (I mean, up to 70% off? I’m there!)
A downside to this brand, however, is that they are definitely not size inclusive. Most pieces only go up to a size US 12, though they’ve extended their Ref Jeans line to a US 24 for certain denim items. That’s not good enough.
Despite that shortcoming, I still enjoy shopping here. They have a few brick and mortar locations, including one in Georgetown, so I definitely need to pay it a visit.
If you’re into buying luxury designer items second-hand, TheRealReal is definitely the site for you!
If you’ve read All That is Gold, you might know that I really like designer stuff. Do I own a lot of it? Heck no, mama’s not made of money! But when I do buy designer pieces, I tend to buy them second-hand.
I recently bought a Tory Burch dress from here that was originally $400 for $45, which is a total steal, plus that dress is going to get a second life with me instead of possibly going into a landfill.
Stuff here is definitely Not Cheap, though. They only resell genuine designer clothing, shoes, handbags, and jewelry, so you’re looking for a pre-owned Hermès Birkin for $50,000 this is the place to go. However, if that’s not in your budget, there are also some less expensive pieces, and they often have sales or add store credit to your account.
As I try more sustainable and environmentally conscious lines/brands/stores, I’ll definitely return to this topic! But so far, these have been my favorites to shop from.
Do you know of any other sustainable brands or online consignment/thrift stores? Which are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!