Why Shopping Retro Is Great For The Planet

Vintage shopping and the art of thrift shopping is officially trendy; from Kylie Jenner to Meghan Markle, everyone is looking to the past for timeless, retro items and fashion inspiration.

While it’s on-trend to reclaim and upcycle a designer vintage clothing item or shopping for vintage clothing online, you are also supporting the fight against the fast fashion industry by purchasing and shopping retro.

If you find yourself thinking, “I would never be caught in the same outfit twice!” just know that this mindset could be causing more damage than you know. 

What Is Fast Fashion?

For most of us shopping day-to-day, the latest look of Balenciaga’s AW21-22 line for one outing is not financially sustainable and, in turn, our sights to online and our local high street. 

Shoppers can find interpretations of designer trends or original designs from brands such as Zara, H&M, Boohoo & PLT each week without a second thought, then toss it after donning it once or twice. 

While it’s great to see good style democratised and made widely available for the masses rather than just the wealthy, this new business model and the desire and mindset of never being pictured in the same clothes twice has only accelerated the fast fashion industry and has caused disastrous effects and a lasting impact on our environment.

Simply put, “Fast fashion” refers to clothing manufactured quickly and then sold at a low price point. 

Why Should We Shop Vintage?

Fast fashion is a very real problem with significant impacts.

Three out of five fast fashion garments end up in a landfill within a year of purchase.

Landfills are consumed with garments comprised of synthetic fabrics that don’t naturally decompose, worsening the world’s waste problem.

Fast fashion also encourages the use of exploited labour forces to produce these items, which in turn creates a humanitarian issue – one that repurposing, recycling and repurchasing from vintage clothing stores, second-hand stores or online can solve! 

To class something as vintage, it needs to have been able to stand the test of time and look just as good as it did when first made; it’s sustainable. That’s what makes vintage stand apart, its quality. By purchasing vintage clothing, you give clothes the potential to be reused and loved again and again.

The fashion industry is responsible for an estimated 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

To put this statistic into perspective, this is more than the aviation and shipping industries combined. As well as this, to keep up with the high demand and reduce costs to be profitable brands, 93% of the brands surveyed by Fashion Checker aren’t paying their garment workers a living wage. Denying their basic human right to earn minimum wage for a basic standard of living. 

Over a third of all microplastics in the ocean come from synthetic textiles.

A single polyester garment can shed over a million microfibers every time it is washed. These microplastics are less than five millimetres in length, meaning they are small enough to pass through water filtration processes. When you think about it, this isn’t surprising as you’d be grateful for just one of these low-quality garments to make it through the washing machine twice without falling apart. 

To Sum It All Up…

We all need to play our part in saving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint wherever possible. So next time you find yourself panicking for a new outfit for a Friday night, think more closely about how your need not to be seen twice on Instagram at the same top can significantly affect our planet.

If you then find yourself ransacking the rails of your local thrift stores, or you are on the hunt for vintage clothing online, just know that you are helping serve a bigger purpose.