We live in a fast-paced world. In this modern society, we tend to believe it is crucial to fill our days with productivity and make sure every minute of our schedules are accounted for. Everything is done as quickly as possible, the faster, the better: from car washes to meals and even to fast fashion.
Companies have to compete for faster production in anything from faster food in drive-thrus to fast output of the threads we wear. We are engaged in a never-ending cycle of competing against time and money.
One of the many aspects of our lives that has changed and periodically gets unraveled is the bland and dangerous fast fashion cycle that we are caught up in.
Some people would rather pay companies less for unethical fashion sent to us from practices that are not entirely legal instead of paying more in local shops or smaller ethical clothing stores.
We are used to wanting things quick and easy that we turn a blind eye to ethics and legal issues surrounding these fast fashions that are trendy during the moment you wear them, but what about 5-10 years from now? Is that piece of expression as lasting as it should be? Have you spent money on a product that is worth your hours of hard labor?
These are the questions we should all be asking ourselves.
A way to break this fast fashion cycle is to spend your money mindfully and towards local shops. Whether it’s a friend’s side hustle or a thrift-shopped item — it makes all the difference. Especially during this holiday season!
Buying a gift for a friend while supporting another friend’s business is a full circle of both gratitude and investing in your friend’s dreams.
Recently, we went through the crucial international Black Lives Matter protests that drove a social media movement that highlighted Black-owned stores. There’s more to your local mall that’s selling the same product in each store.
During this movement, I found a high school acquaintance’s jewelry store, 9/29 Brand, owned by Nijeria Whitfield, where she creates imaginative storyboards to accompany her unique products detailed in each design.
What’s interesting about her work is the story behind each piece: “In fashion, supporting small brands has so many positives. I think diversity is a top one; it can get fairly boring and hinder such a creative industry when the same few brands control the entire narrative. By supporting small brands, it helps create diversity in narratives, design, and products in the market.” All of which is lost in fast production where there is little to no creativity.
E-commerce is fruitful in many ways. It’s about finding what you want to support and why.
There are many Latinx owned shops that either specialize in their niche craft or funnel different collections and provide a marketplace that sells a variety of goods from skincare to art to notebooks.
An excellent place to start in Latinx-owned shopping is Shop Latinx, which prides itself on being the “leading Latinx marketplace for lifestyle products designed and created for Latinx.” They collaborate and showcase artists with influential and powerful voices. It is a matter of simply taking that extra step to research where the product comes from and how eco-friendly or sustainable they are to society. Will it really spark your joy upon arrival?
Another way of creating a space that is quality rather than quickly made is through thrift stores.
During this pandemic, it is difficult to plan out these in real-life shopping. Still, an alternative is through the beauty of social media, primarily through Instagram or Depop, where many curators sell either handmade creations or thrift pieces that fit their aesthetic.
Whether it’s something they’ve collected or used before and are putting back to sale, it helps the environment. A great aspect of this is that once you find shops that serve your aesthetic, you have a whole closet at your fingertips.
An example of this tech-savvy thrift endeavor is the LOST & FOUND Latina-owned shop curated by Annie Alvarado, which was sparked by her passion for styling secondhand items from early on when she would go to swap-meets with her parents growing up.
She explains to us that “hand-selecting vintage and pre-owned clothing, shoes, accessories, and objects for L&F Shop allows for them to be reused, recycled, and ultimately be kept out of landfills. I love giving otherwise discarded items a new life and a new home!”
This is a hopeful solution reported in what the NY Times’ describes as a threat to the planet.
“More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill (about 85 percent of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated), it will not decay,” the media explains.
There’s plenty of ways to practice steering away from huge brands producing pieces that are repetitive and, bluntly, boring. It’s time to create a canvas with what you wear and how you dress. It’s time to bring back loud expression in all forms of art, including what we wear daily on our bodies.
It’s time to intentionally spend our money and support our local shops, not only when social media asks us to, but in our everyday efforts. Helping create a sustainable economy and eliminating unethical toxic production starts in your personal life and community with what you decide to spend your money on.
So during this holiday season, I encourage you to spend your hard-earned dollars on something more of value: a product that radiates the labor of love behind it, from start to finish.