“Fast fashion” is a term used to refer to clothing that is produced very quickly and very cheaply, to respond to changing trends in fashion. If you live in the UK, think of Primark, H&M and more expensive shops like Next and Topshop.
One of the reasons I started dressmaking was because I was fed up with wandering around shops picking up garments I barely liked, because they were cheap and happened to fit “okay”.
I’ve realised that since I’ve been making my own clothes, I haven’t bought anything new. I’ve bought one or two items from charity shops. So I’ve vowed to quit buying Fast Fashion for good.
Benefits of a handmade, ethical wardrobe
Identifying your own style – Everybody that wears Fast Fashion looks similar. You can spot them a mile off. Dressmaking presents you with options. Lots of them. You have control over the garment from the colour and fabric, to the fit and finish. If you’re having trouble identifying your own style then read Meet Your Maker – identifying your wardrobe sins.
Being unique – Everybody that wears Fast Fashion looks similar. Am I sounding like a broken record yet? Who cares if that girl in front of you in the queue in Costa has that must-have dress from Topshop? So have hundreds of thousands of other women! How many people have a sombrero wearing kittens printed playsuit? You get the point – if you imagine it and want it to exist, then make it!
Fit – I’m 5′ 2″ and have a short/non existent waist, monstrous calfs, large bust and short neck. Nothing in fast fashion fits me. By making your own clothes, you have control over the proportions. You’ll also gradually learn to flatter your body with the garments you create. I’m still learning! Yesterday, I discovered that gathered skirts with a high waist are like a magnifier for my bum. Not all cuts/styles work for all shapes.
Cost – I’m not going to pretend that buying metres of fabric and all the necessary notions is going to be cheaper than that £10 ready to wear dress from H&M, but by creating garments that suit you, fit you and reflect your personal style, you’re going to build up a wardrobe of items you love. And will keep wearing. This means less money spent on garments that you end up donating to charity because it wasn’t quite right, or binning because it fell apart. Which leads me to my next point…
Quality not quantity – Almost everything I have bought in Primark or H&M has shrunk, despite me washing everything at 30 degrees and air drying. Nobody wants to handwash a £3 t-shirt that they don’t even care about. Have you ever turned a fast fashion garment inside out? Boy, they love the overlocker, don’t they? It’s because it’s quick, and your garment has been thrown together as fast as possible in a workshop producing hundreds of thousands of tops exactly like yours. They are quality checked. And those that are satisfactory end up in stores. But faults do get through. If you make it yourself, you will take your time and put care into the garment.
Feeling good – Some people describe clothes shopping as a hobby. The joy of putting together items to create an outfit and feeling the buzz of wearing new clothes. That buzz soon goes when I realise that what I’ve bought just isn’t right for me. The happiness that comes from wearing something you’ve made for yourself doesn’t get washed out after the first wear. It’s there everytime you put it on. Oh yeeeah, I made this! After you’ve worn your fast fashion outfit once or twice, it’s just clothes.
Ethical choice – I feel pretty good about using donated fabrics from the Scrap Store in Welwyn or salvaging fabric from old bedsheets/clothing (read more about free fabrics on Thrifty Threads – Finding fabric free or cheap), but I know I could do more. To find out about why we should be making more ethical choices with fashion, including the fabrics we use, please read my article – Ethical Fashion – what is it and why bother [coming shortly]? Wearing handmade clothes in ethical fabrics will feel wonderful. The planet will love you. And your dress!
What frustrates you with fast fashion? Have you stopped buying ready to wear garments?
Images courtesy of Mister GC, foto76, franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net