The Problem with Current Sustainable Fashion

Photo by @happpyal on Unsplash.

The words “sustainable” and “recycled” have become keywords within the fashion world as people begin to be more conscious of their carbon footprint and climate change. The concept of going to thrift stores to get used clothing for lower prices has spread to all demographics instead of just those struggling financially. Many appreciate the time it takes to dig through clothing at Goodwill or other thrift stores, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

Going thrifting is essentially the easiest and cheapest way to be sustainable when buying clothing. Something once stigmatized and unpopular is now a trend, but it does have some repercussions. Because these clothes are so cheap, many people have picked up the idea of digging through thrift stores, buying the clothes and reselling them online for two to three times the original price, sometimes more.

Although this just seems like a quick way to make money, it does have harmful effects. A specific example is the oversized clothing trend. The sizes XL – XXXL can be difficult to find at thrift stores or sustainable clothing stores in general. When people of all sizes go to thrift stores and buy out the large-sized clothing for an oversized fit to resell online, it leaves those who can only wear XL – XXXL and can only afford thrift store prices for sustainable options in an uncomfortable situation. Because of this, they may be forced to shop at fast fashion brands for the cheap prices and variety of size options.

Photo posted by @n_o_a_h_s on Depop

Another trend found on Depop, a popular clothing resale app, is thrifting children’s clothing and reselling them for much higher prices. Although children’s designs can be fun and cute, this can be harmful if overdone. Many low-income families rely on places like Goodwill to dress their children and need clothes more than adults who like the shrunken fit and baby tee trends. If thrift stores raise their prices, the people who rely on buying clothing there will be in trouble. On the right, a children’s long sleeve t-shirt is being resold for $38 on Depop, even though it was thrifted. At Goodwill, a shirt like this would probably sell for $5.

Photo from

Thrift stores are not the only option for sustainable shopping, but they are likely the cheapest. Reformation, a popular sustainable brand, sells high-quality clothing made ethically and sustainably, but the prices are far too high for many. Although Reformation prices can be a lot higher than many other sustainable brands, it is difficult for many sustainable fashion lovers to find a brand that is truly ethical, fashionable and affordable. The jeans shown on the left sell for a whopping $148, which is unreasonable for many people.

Generally, a good rule to follow when attempting to switch to sustainable fashion is to try to do a mix of thrifting and buying from sustainable brands. It is good to splurge on an expensive ethically-made item every once in a while if you can afford it since they can generally last for a while. If thrifting is more your style, then only buy what you know you will wear and do not attempt to buy name brand things just to resell them for a profit. Hopefully, more brands over time will switch to ethical production means and make sustainable fashion equally accessible to everyone.

Make sure to tweet us @VALLEYmag with your favorite ethical fashion brand!



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