Top: American Apparel Factory Outlet | Shorts: LF | Shoes: Steve Madden
Photography by Monica Boss
I am not a perfect conscious consumer, nor was I ever a perfect sustainable fashion shopper. If there’s anything I’ve realized in the past two years of trying to overhaul my shopping habits, it’s that deciding to shop entirely ethically or sustainably is a huge commitment. You commit to spending more money to shop at brands that uphold your values. You commit to limiting yourself from shopping at many of the places that have been your “go-to’s”. And most importantly, you commit to sticking with much of the clothing that is in your closet already. After a while of strictly shopping sustainably and ethically, at some point it begins to feel as though you’re trapped.
Since beginning to write this post a few days ago, I have binge shopped three different times at three different non-ethical and non-sustainable places. Sometimes I just want to buy the damn $1.90 tank top from Forever 21 instead of dropping $30 or $40 on a simple sustainably or ethically made tank, or take advantage of a killer sale on swimsuits instead of dropping over $100 for a sustainably made one. The guilt of making these impulse buys has lately become too much to handle. In retrospect, it’s great that I am so much more aware of my shopping habits. I have even cut out some of the biggest fast fashion culprits – Forever 21 and Zara, to name a few – out of my shopping list completely. But still, these impulse purchases and binge shopping sprees have been in the top of my mind a lot recently.
My goal moving forward is not to keep myself from buying something that is not 100% sustainable or ethically made. It’s just honestly impractical for me, a college student who enjoys some good retail therapy, to not blow my entire savings on sustainably and ethically made clothing. My goal, instead, is to impulse buy with intention. This sounds totally backwards, but I’ve gotten to the point where I can kill time by adding a bunch of clothes to a cart online and abandon it after. I’ve also come to realize that there are just some things that you can’t buy as easily, or as cheaply, when you shop slow fashion. As the past two years have gone by, I have gotten much better impulse buying clothing that I actually wear (and wear often). I went with my friends last weekend to the LF Sale with the intention of just looking at what they had to offer, but ended up walking out with these shorts. I have worn these shorts three different times since I purchased them a week ago, and plan on wearing them many times in the future, too. These are the kinds of impulse buys I need to keep making. It’s okay to buy from brands that aren’t changing the world with every piece of clothing created if I know that I am going to love it, wear it, and discard or donate or resell it correctly once I am done with it.
That’s impulse buying with intention. But just to be safe, always get a receipt.