For the month of September I took part in a campaign iniated by Oxfam – ‘Second Hand September’. This campaign was ran with the aim to raise more awareness on the negative impact fast fashion is having on our environment and climate while also raising awareness on the terrible working conditions many fast fashion brands force upon their workers. Just a quick google will tell you all the horrifying and eye opening facts that surround the fast fashion industry with our habits as consumers feeding this dark industry, ensuring it continues to thrive. The whole campaign was to promote and encourage more consumers to choose ‘Second Hand’ when shopping and when done on a large scale, hopefully prolong the life of items already produced which in turn reduces textile waste and the need for items to be produced in such vast quantities continuously by fast fashion brands.
As a lover of fashion all my life, (that’s questionable looking at some past outfit choices) I am 100% guilty of supporting fast fashion through the years from choosing the cheap, convenient, ‘wear just once’ options far too many times, and why did I do this? Because I simply didn’t take the time to educate myself on a subject I claim to adore. This past couple of years I have come leaps and bounds in my ‘bad consumer habits’ by altering my diet, supporting only cruelty free brands, reducing my plastic use and more but I’ll admit I continued to turn a blind eye to the negative side of fast fashion for much longer than I’d like to admit and only really started letting the facts sink in this past summer. There’s absolutely no denying we are in the midst of a climate emergency with the textiles and fashion industries being some of the most polluting industries in the world contributing to different forms of environmental pollution including water, air and soil pollution. Our habits as consumers must change so I wanted to share this post to show how easy second hand shopping can be.
I think a lot of people are put off second hand shopping as it doesn’t have the same convenience of popping onto your favourite fast fashion websites and typing in ‘red bodycon midi dress’ with 10 different options appearing all in your size and yeah, it isn’t as convenient as that. However, making any positive change rarely is ‘convenient’ and takes effort, an effort we should all be willing to put in. Now, it’s hardly rocket science either, you can absolutely shop second hand easily from online vintage stores and my saviour when it came to second hand shopping this month – DEPOP. For those of you that don’t know, Depop is an app where anyone can sell items by simply setting up a profile, so it’s great for any of you wishing to clear out your wardrobe or what is becoming more and more popular on the app is to set up your own vintage store. Just be aware if you wish to support second hand shopping, that while the majority are, not every seller on Depop are selling second hand/vintage items. There are some sellers selling items like any other fast fashion brand by bulk ordering items from the likes of Ali Express and selling them on for a profit so do try to avoid those items if your aim is to shop second hand and choose vintage sellers or individuals like myself who are clearing out pieces that no longer get the wear.
Then there are of course, physical vintage shops and charity shops which are becoming more and more popular amongst the fashion fans. Charity shopping is great for the obvious reason that you are supporting a worthy cause but as mentioned, isn’t always convenient as you aren’t guaranteed to always find something you love. Having said that, the ‘inconvenience’ (a bit of a dramatic term) of second hand shopping reignited a love for fashion that I feel I had lost due it being so damn easy to find something ‘that’ll do’ for any occasion. I know that seems like it should be considered a great thing about fast fashion but shopping that way left me feeling uninspired and bored with fashion.. it was just too easy. As I’m growing up (yes I’m sill absolutely in the midst of growing up), I feel like I’m also coming closer to finding my style. Beforehand, I’d be one of the first to try every new trend as soon as it became a thing with cheap fast fashion retailers making this so simple. Giving a tenner or €20 to try out this latest trend was just the norm and I felt like a must even if I wasn’t 100% sure if I actually liked the trend. Whereas now, there are some trends I absolutely will not wear or try as I become more confident in my personal style choices and I’m now at a place where I know exactly what I like and what I don’t. This makes second hand shopping all the more enjoyable for me as it’s a mini victory when I come across something I really love. I’m certainly no groundbreaking trendsetter when it comes to style, however, shopping second hand has allowed me to find pieces that not every second ‘fasHUN’ has. Of course, my second hand Zara jackets etc. aren’t exactly unique in any way at all but because they aren’t the latest collection, I can walk down the street without bumping into 10 more of them. I’ve personally aspired to and ever so subtly lived by the motto ‘if anyone can have it, I don’t want it‘ when it comes to my clothes, men and more so now I want to not so subtly live by that motto and live by it through and through.
Aside from the joy second hand shopping has brought to me by reigniting my love of fashion, the point of all of this is for a much much more important reason. It is for us fashion lovers and fans to be more conscious. We need to accept that the art form of fashion that we adore so much is having a detrimental effect on the home we share with millions of species. It is exploiting our fellow humans across the globe in the form of modern day slavery and more. We don’t need to stop enjoying fashion or feel guilty about loving this form of expression so many of us find comfort in, but we do need to change and we need to change now.
WE NEED TO:
- take care of the pieces we have, re-wear them and only buy new pieces that we know we will wear time and time again
- upcycle, repair & alter what we have, yes it costs money but our planet is priceless
- donate to charity shops, sell on Depop – give your pieces a new home
- buy vintage/second hand pieces that already exist to hopefully someday decrease the enormous demand for constant vast quantities of fast fashion being produced
- dispose of unwearable pieces responsibly
- shop new pieces from sustainable brands that are making the effort to reduce their negative impact on our planet and those that live on it
So, how did I find being a part of ‘Second Hand September?’? I personally found exclusively sticking to second hand shopping for the month a doddle. It wasn’t a ‘challenge’ nor was it difficult. I learnt how straightforward it can be and am so grateful that the guilt I felt for loving fashion has for the most part been lifted. Here’s a look at just some of the pieces I picked up throughout the month..
If you enjoyed this post, and it is something that interests you, I’d love for you to keep up with me over on Instagram where I will be sharing much more second hand finds, along with my favourite places to shop second hand and more – find me @_shostyle
Until next time,
Love Shóna x