Most people have clothes or designs that they would wear “if they could”.
But who says they can’t?
Fashion is an opportunity to wear art, to express yourself without a word. Although this is a common position, the vast majority of people do not stray from the mainstream or an alternative mainstream.
Trends are emerging faster than ever today thanks to social media like TikTok and Instagram. Fashion brands rely on young people’s desire to have what’s trending and the self-doubt they cast when it comes to their individuality. These brands are cashing in on fast fashion.
Fast fashion refers to a business model that replicates models recently seen on the catwalks. Fast fashion companies produce these low-cost items in large quantities and quickly fill the shelves of fast fashion stores as the item begins to trend.
Vice News Covered Reports super-fast fashion in January, discussing the rise of Chinese fashion retailer Shein. The company reproduces at a lower cost articles popularized on social networks rather than on the catwalks and can have them delivered in a few days.
Items fall off trend as quickly as they hit shelves, with the hype around them shifting to newer items. The short lifespan of the trendiest items means they end up in landfills quickly.
Some have also pointed out that fast fashion brands steal the creations of fashion designers because US copyright law does not protect fashion the way it does other art forms. Advocates began pushing to expand these lawswanting to protect small brand designers and curbing the ability of the fast fashion industry to wreak havoc on the environment.
Such a move would also promote more individuality in fashion, as millions of people would not buy the same shirt because it is trendy in the fast fashion industry.
The most sustainable way to buy will always be to buy used, as it means there is no need for new resources. Choosing the right thrift store also means the items will be significantly cheaper than they would be elsewhere.
Goodwill is always a good bet for cheaper items and they can be found nationwide and near campus. Places like Dragonfly Thrift Boutique and Miami Twice are also near campus.
UThrift is the ultimate way for UM students to have fun and save money with sustainable fashion. The student organization is a “savings exchange”, allowing students to donate and exchange items.
Students always get one more item than they give, which means a student can bring three items and take home four.
Anna Coon, president of UThrift and junior student in broadcast journalism and political science, said: “When you go to a thrift store for the first time, it can be very overwhelming and you look through all those clothes and you might hate them. … you have to be really patient.
She said UThrift is a great way for students to start saving because all of the items come from other students, so the organization has plenty of trendy pieces to offer.
The group estimates that it received 3,600 donations and 630 unique visitors in the past semester alone. Their pop-up store is on campus every Wednesday, and the organization hosts events throughout the year. Students can easily switch between classes.
Omari Lewis, a second-year mechanical engineering student, said, “This is a really great opportunity to be able to save money for free.”
He visits UThrift every week and he has assembled entire outfits from pieces he found there.
Coon pointed out that fashion itself already has a circular nature.
“You look at a lot of 90s fashion. You’re going to find 90s fashion at the thrift store of people who threw that stuff in the 90s,” Coon said.
She wants people to realize that this trend shows that you don’t always have to create new clothes. We can use what already exists.
Coon also shared how she had an item of clothing in middle school that she ultimately decided to hate and got rid of because it was no longer considered cool. Years later, when the item was back in fashion, she found herself wanting to buy one like the one she had thrown away.
Generally focusing on personal style and straying from trends can make it easier to ditch fast fashion if it’s difficult. It can also save you money because you take the time to think about what you like the most and what you will be wearing repeatedly for years to come.
Having a more organized closet can make getting ready easier and more exciting, as you end up with a closet of items you love rather than items you bought on impulse.
So put on your headphones and take your time perusing the clothes racks of a nearby thrift store. Changing society’s view of fashion from “what’s trendy” to “what interests me” will add more art and style to our lives anyway.