New Year, No New Clothes

Guide: 10 best vintage boutiques and stores in Calgary - Curiocity Calgary

In January 2020, I challenged myself to not buy any new clothes for a whole year. I continued to buy pre-loved clothing at thrift, consignment and vintage stores on occasion. And I made an exception for shoes, socks and underwear, which I was allowed to buy new when needed. My resolution proved to be very successful and I was happy to have stuck to it all year! It was even easier that I expected and I was rarely tempted to buy anything new. Although I won’t be as strict with my clothing consumption this year, I know I will continue with the habits I’ve created to shop sustainably and responsibly. I’m hoping by writing this article I might inspire someone else to change their shopping habits or to build a New Year’s resolution for 2021 related to clothing consumption … but no pressure. 

My Love for Pre-Loved 

I first began shopping at second hand and consignment stores because I liked the variety and the satisfaction of finding a really unique piece of clothing. However, over the past year, I shopped exclusively at these stores as a way to lessen my carbon footprint and to do my part to support the environment. Almost my entire wardrobe is now made up of pre-loved pieces which is something I am very proud of. Yet, I still wear many clothes that I bought new several years ago and which have stood the test of time. I have also been dipping into my parents’ closet recently to steal some of their clothes from the 80’s which have come back into style.

This black and white top and red dress are some of my favourite second-hand finds!

The Evils of Fast Fashion 

In the past few years, I have learned more and more about the evils of the fast fashion industry and its negative impacts on the environment. Fast fashion is defined by cheap production methods, rapid consumption and short clothing life (Niinimäki et al., 2020). It includes most brands found at large shopping malls such as H&M, Zara, Uniqlo, and Victoria’s Secret.  

Fast Fashion Facts 

The industry is responsible for: 

  • Producing over 92 million tonnes of waste each year 
  • Using over 79 trillion litres of water each year (200 tonnes of water used per one tonne of textile produced)
  • Producing between 8-10 % of the world’s carbon emissions each year 
  • Using over 15, 000 different chemicals in clothing production 
  • A global increase in clothing production by 7 kg per person over the past 30 years 

Reference: Niinimäki et al., 2020 

If you’re interested in learning more about this wasteful industry, I would highly recommend watching Hasan Minhaj’s episode of Patriot Act named “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion”. You’ll be learning while laughing, I promise. Minhaj explains that Americans bought about 12 new pieces of clothing each year during the 1980s but that today, this number has risen to 68 new items of clothing purchased each year (2019). If even a few of these items could be bought from an used clothing retailer or not purchased at all, it could save huge amounts of water, energy, carbon emissions and waste. 

Link to the episode!

New Shopping Strategies 

I’m not asking you to follow in my footsteps completely and to stop buying new clothing altogether. However, I hope next time you need a new piece of clothing or you just want to add a fresh look to your wardrobe, you consider alternatives to shopping fast fashion. These include shopping at a thrift, consignment or vintage stores, trading with a friend, shopping a sustainable or local brand and mending an item of clothing you already own. Also, it is now easier than ever to shop second-hand since many shops now sell online. All these strategies are valid and implementing them may be easier than you think! 

My Favourite Pre-loved Clothing Retailers and Accounts: 

Calgary (ships Canada wide):

@velourclothingexchange

@peacockboutique

Edmonton (ships Canada wide): 

@mood_consignment

@fish.vintage

@endangeredthrift 

@newlife.clo 

@wildfire_vintage_yeg  

@ohorangethrift


Amanda Sherwin

References:

Netflix Is A Joke. (2019, November 25). The Ugly Truth Of Fast Fashion/Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj/Netflix [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGF3ObOBbac&list=LLazplnBIEVHrVQB-6QtvGUg&index=4 

Niinimäki, K., Peters, G., Dahlbo, H., Perry, P., Rissanen, T., & Gwilt, A. (2020). The environmental price of fast fashion. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 1(4), 189-200. https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s43017-020-0039-9 

Peacock Boutique Consignment. (2019). Inglewood Location! [Photograph]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=peacockboutiqueconsignments&set=a.2144720925565730 The University of Manchester. (2020). Stock-photo-retail-store-30832066 [Photograph]. https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/environmental-cost-of-fast-fashion-is-not-sustainable/

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