zara bag 4

Shopping Habits and Fast Fashion – Where Do You Draw the Line?

It’s an upsetting reality of the industry – shoppers can balk on social media and shake their sticks all they want at the soul sucking fashion empires that profit off of undeveloped countries destroying both environment and lives, but the very next day we’re skipping into Zara or H&M because the prices  and owning something new are just too irresistible.   I too am dead guilty of this, but my goal today is not to focus on the impact of fashion fashion (which we should all know by now) but rather where we choose to draw the line and consciously decide to shop for something of better quality, something longer lasting, or to not purchase at all.

hm las vegas

The definition of excess (Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas)

The idea for today’s post spawned from this Zara bag (similar here) I recently acquired by chance.  It hung innocently on a nearby rack as I stood in line to do a return – it was minimal, black, roomy, and fit the necessities of a new bag I was casually scouting for.  I looked at the price: $29.99.  And it certainly felt like $29.99; the thin and cheap polyurethane felt smooth under my fingers as I turned the bag over and over, inspecting the thin woven interior lining and its surprisingly acceptable overall construction.  It even included a longer shoulder strap.  Should I?  Or should I not?  The struggle was real.

zara bag 1

zara bag 3

The Race to the Bottom

I think at some point we all kind of pause and wonder just how low can it go, and how comfortable we are spending those hard earned dollars on a garment or accessory that’s potentially water soluble let alone the fact that it was made by a person earning pennies an hour.  I have no problems admitting just how thrilling it can be to bring home a haul of new trendy things and knowing you didn’t break the bank, but how satisfying is it really, to be filling our closets to the brim with items still smelling like factory grime that torques terribly and disintegrates in the wash?  Should we be buying just because we can?

Buying Smarter?

There comes a time where something’s just too good to be true.  You know the feeling; when you pick out a garment, check the price tag and accidentally choke on your Starbucks, exclaiming “wait how much is this??” Laws of the universe will dictate that there’s most likely something significantly wrong with this item, like I don’t know, the threads holding it together is actually silly string.  But seriously,  chances are it’s held together with Elmers and and will come apart after 2 uses.  That’s where I draw my line; at this point you might as well flush money down the toilet.  Like my beautiful but unfortunate Forever 21 choices from awhile back, below.

SONY DSC

forever 21 flats 1

Money. Down the toilet.

The old adage – quality over quantity

But occasionally something like this Zara bag comes along, where after some heavy inspections, I can see that it would actually hold up.  The price attracted me, but ultimately it was its acceptable and solid construction quality that made me commit.

zara bag 2

zara bag 4

Occasionally I’ll still make unwise decisions, but over time I find it easier to balance the emotional appeals of fast fashion against the knowledge of its value, thereby making better purchases and stretching my dollar.  It’s a balance between spending spontaneously and respecting value.

Zara Tote Outfit

A blend of fast and steady.

Aritzia Jacket (Similar) // Aritzia Del Mar Tee // H&M Skirt (Similar) and Tights // Zara Boots (Similar) // Zara Blanket Scarf // Both the Aritzia items above have been worn to death for multiple seasons now, and I still love every single minute!  The leather Zara booties were one of their pricier shoes, but it’s also lasted me 2 seasons so far of heavy use.

What is your thought process when confronted with rock bottom prices?  Would you tend to be more impulsive or air on the cautious side?  Drop me a line below!

 

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56 thoughts on “Shopping Habits and Fast Fashion – Where Do You Draw the Line?

  1. Shannon says:

    This post! I have been feeling like that for a while & then I realised I still have items from Chinese mass retailers. I think it’s important to look into every aspect of our lives when we see something like that needs change. Quality over quantity is really important here. We need to take more care of our earth by being more mindful of these types of things.

    TFM BLOG

    Like

  2. rae tashman (@lovefromberlin) says:

    This was such an awesome post and I love seeing bloggers question their consumption habits as it is something we all need to be aware of. I think it is impossible to completely opt out of the system, as in a globalized world, it is damned near impossible to buy 100% of your disposable income purchases as well as necessities (food, laundry detergent, etc.) from completely moral, environmentally friendly companies with stellar track records for treating their employees right. So many companies that are doing good are also owned by a larger company that may not be doing good.

    But like you said, the important part is to understand and accept this so as not to drive yourself crazy with unrealistic standards, but to make changes and be conscious of your spending habits where you can. I think it is a good idea to invest in more expensive pieces if (and only if) they really are made better than a cheaper alternative and it’s also okay to go for a more inexpensive find if the quality seems to be good.

    Rae | Love from Berlin

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      Absolutely; as long as there exists greed and enormous demand, there will be supply.

      I’m so glad you mentioned the “if and only if” on more expensive pieces; I didn’t get to touch on it in this post but there are some pricey things out there that are made of crap!! The biggest chain offender IMO is Urban Outfitters and it’s affiliates Free People and Anthro. I’ve both bought and noticed items from FP that are either falling apart IN THE STORE or at home after a few wears, and at their price point that’s really unacceptable. But their designs and store concepts are beloved, and hell I love their designs too, but gotta be extra cautious and save those receipts whenever I shop there!

      Thanks for the read babe, I’m really loving this conversation!

      Like

  3. Atsuna Matsui says:

    Loved this read! I’m definitely all about quality over quantity when it comes to fashion. I find that tops are easily replaceable and you don’t have to splurge but it’s all about mixing and matching affordable pieces with high end pieces. I prefer splurging on handbags, shoes, and outerwear!

    xx
    atsunamatsui.com

    Like

  4. nibinquiel says:

    Thank you for writing this! I love seeing other bloggers reflect on fast fashion. I have been learning to navigate the world of cheap fashion. It does feel awesome to come home with new stuff and feel so trendy–until they fall apart. It’s very hard to think about how sturdy a piece is or how ethical it is in the moment, but I am learning I have to. Cheap clothes don’t feel good on my body. They just don’t. I’m learning to balance cheap finds for basic pieces with more expensive and original products I can be very proud of. I even like making my own clothes a lot! so it’s a weird thing to navigate but it pays off in the end, I think (:

    xx
    scarlettandgiselle.blogspot.com

    Like

  5. Viviene Kok says:

    I might or might not be the most cautious shopper among the people I know. Trendy pieces most likely would not end up in my closet unless it is a classic-trendy piece like a pair of good wide legged trousers 🙂 For sure voting for Value and Quality over focusing solely on the price. As quality does not go on par with the price nowadays. Therefore quality before anything else 🙂

    Real Life Nerd // http://www.vivienekok.com

    Like

  6. thestylesynapse says:

    Ah thank you so much for bringing this issue up! I’ve been struggling with the balance between affordability and ethics. I used to buy almost solely from fast-fashion brands due to my nearly complete unawareness of what really goes on behind the scenes, and because it’s just too irresistible. Over the years I’ve definitely been more educated on the issues and have grown to buy much more carefully and select items based on quality and craftsmanship (although the occasional impulse buy is pretty inevitable). Overall, I think the fashion industry will meet a bottleneck when this fast-fashion industry is no longer sustainable, and more and more customers will demand a fairer work environment for the people who make the beautiful items.
    Anyway, thank you for sharing! 🙂 Definitely food for thought.

    http://www.thestylesynapse.com

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      I too believe that the current state of fast fashion is not sustainable. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight anytime soon. There will always be someone poorer, some country willing to accept these types of working conditions in order to give its citizens something they never had. I agree the only way to combat this is to cut off demand, but that will take time. Thank you for such an awesome response, I really enjoyed your thoughts!

      Like

  7. Miri says:

    Great post! I think that you can shop consciously if you learn how to shop. If you became slave of latest trends, you will never shop consciously. And even if you are a fashion blogger, you can be more aware about where your clothes come from and who made them. You just need to learn to be patient and look for clothes that will last long.

    Hugs,
    Miri

    http://currentlywearing.com

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      I completely agree Miri! It’s something that takes a little bit of time and experience, but eventually most people fall out of love with fast fashion brands because their clothes keep falling apart, even fashion bloggers!

      Like

  8. Colleen K says:

    Loved this post – I completely agree. It can be such a challenge to stay true to the ethical side of what you believe is right when you’re staring at an affordable on trend jacket that you really want. Brands like Zara and H&M are so easy to turn a blind eye over their business practices and what the real cost of the clothing is, when the cost to us is low. I appreciate this post, I also wear a mix of high and low for this same reason. I also love to consignment shop more than anything!

    xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

    Like

  9. The Style Contour says:

    Great post, girl! This is one of the main reasons I prefer shopping at stores like Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls or TjMaxx. They sell designer items that are of great quality and often for the price you can get for something at either Forever 21 or Zara, that will easily fall apart; especially when your browse through the clearance rack! However, I do have a few pieces from stores, such as H&M, but I always look at the quality, and sometimes, surprisingly, you can hit a home run (I’ve had some pieces that have held up for years).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this and posing the question, very interesting and fun read 🙂 I hope you’re having a wonderful start to your day so far!

    XO,

    Jalisa
    http://www.thestylecontour.com

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      I completely agree Jalisa! I think my home runs happen more with H&M; I have a few sweaters from there that’s lasted quite a few seasons. Yes Nordstrom Racks is amazeballs; I’m actually glad there isn’t one that’s convenient for me to get to!! Thanks so much for reading and letting me know your thoughts, it really encourages me to write!

      Like

  10. mintnoti says:

    This was a very interesting post! I too have been trying to shop less at affordable stores like F21 and H&M because the way the clothing is made is not very ethical. I am also trying to avoid buying products that use animals (such as leather, wool, etc.) since that is also not ethical. I read an article recently that said the demand of leather is so high today, that companies are using dogs or even goats instead of just cows to make their products. It takes a little more effort and awareness to be a smart shopper, but in the end I feel better when I purchase clothing that was made by people who make a fair wage and doesn’t use animal products.
    http://www.mintnotion.com

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      That’s fantastic! Yes it definitely takes a bit more time and attention to shop smart, but it almost always pays off in the long run! As for leather, I recently noticed more car manufacturers are moving away from the old school coveted leather seats mentality and opting for tech fabrics that are breathable and ultra low maintenance. Love that!!

      Like

  11. May says:

    Alice, this was a brilliantly written post. As a student who works part time to fund my own education, I really don’t have the luxury of buying items every other week (hence reusing old clothes and raiding my mother’s old closet!), let alone every day when I enter a store. (I only made two purchases for myself this entire year!)

    For this reason, I do get plenty of tempting opportunities during pay day and sales where I just look at an item — of obviously subpar quality — longingly and itch to cash in my hard-earned money.

    I don’t often chance upon posts as eloquently and analytically written as this regarding consumerism but I think these are extremely important in our culture.

    May | THE MAYDEN | Bloglovin’

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      Thank you May! I’m so glad you enjoyed it; my writing is really not worthy of such praise! Being a student these days is extremely rough; I’m damn impressed at your self control!! I agree it’s important to raise questions about fast fashion and how we’re consuming it; it’s all too easy to ignore the impact when we’re not the ones who has to suffer it.

      Like

  12. Raquel says:

    I would say that I’m more cautious of prices now because I have had some negative experiences such as you shared. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a pair of shoes and ended up wearing them once and never could again for how uncomfortable they were! Such an insightful post, thanks for sharing!

    Merry Christmas!
    XO Raquel
    http://www.lincolnparksharp.com

    Like

  13. helenveyna says:

    I loved this post! I’ve been personally trying to limit my fast fashion purchases. It’s hard because I don’t have much money to spend on clothes. However, I’ve realize that I’d rather splurge more one one item that will last me several seasons, rather than purchase several items that I won’t care about in a few weeks.

    -Helen
    http://www.sweethelengrace.com

    Like

  14. Style Tomes says:

    So happy to see this post! I actually spoke about the same issue several months back. (http://styletomes.com/fashion/slow-down-and-enjoy-the-clothes-how-fashion-has-become-cluttered/) I stopped shopping at fast fashion chains as a result of evaluating the industry and the impact of my choices on the world.

    I definitely get drawn in by an item or two passing by Zara, but I honestly haven’t missed the Forever 21’s of the world since stopping. My wardrobe actually got so much more solid because I’ve chosen quality, design and really gave thought to my purchasing habits. After all, a $400 item needs a lot more deliberation than a $4 item.

    I think ultimately it’s down to the person to choose what they feel best doing. I don’t judge someone for choosing fast fashion brands. Personally, it doesn’t work for me. I found that the clothes I bought at fast fashion stores disintegrated in a few weeks, and I really want the items I buy and love to last many wears.

    xo
    N
    Style Tomes || Style Tomes on Instagram

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      I’m loving this discussion! I agree, it’s such a blurry line. Fast fashion can affordably cloth a whole family and that’s amazing, but on the flip side it causes most of us to make impulse decisions and throwaway purchases. It’s up to us individually to decide what’s best and be conscious of our choices!

      Like

  15. Madame Ostrich says:

    Such a well written and though provoking piece. You raise a great question, “Should we be buying, just because we can?”

    I feel like, especially as fashion bloggers, there’s always a pressure to have something new to show off. Trends are less set in stone, but at the same time they fluctuate more than ever. I’m not sure what changes the industry will hold in the next 10 years, but fast fashion definitely isn’t sustainable– not for the environment, or consumers.

    http://www.madame-ostrich.com

    Like

    • Alice Shiya says:

      I feel like that’s the catch 22 right there; fast fashion is so irresistible for us bloggers and fashionistas in general, and that pressure to show and blog is constantly there. I feel like the best way to combat this is just to shop for value and not solely for price! Thank you for reading!

      Like

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