Rails of second hand clothing in Oxfam's Batley Warehouse
Rails of second hand clothing in Oxfam's Batley Warehouse

5 Alternatives to Fast Fashion

Discover 5 fast fashion alternatives and find out how you can help to protect people and the planet from the impacts of the textile industry.

Alternatives to Fast Fashion

So, is fast fashion bad?

The fashion industry contributes a whopping 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Oxfam recently reported that if half the clothes UK adults owned were bought second hand instead of new, we’d have prevented harmful emissions from entering the atmosphere equal to an airplane flying around the world 17,000 times.

It seems the UK is addicted to new clothes. With an estimated two tonnes of clothing bought each minute, we buy more than any other country in Europe.

Together, we can improve our consumption habits to help protect people and the planet from the impacts of fast fashion.

Support Charity Shops

Interior of an Oxfam charity shop showing rail of clothes

Choosing to shop at charity shops is a great way to find your personal style rather than follow trends on the high street. You never know what you’ll find when you pop in. From second hand designer shoes, to vintage fashion, to retro handbags. You can even charity shop from home with Oxfam’s Online Shop!

It’s undeniable that a lot of fast fashion clothing gets donated to charity shops. However, buying these items from Oxfam can make a big difference. Your money will be going towards Oxfam’s work tackling the injustices that fuel poverty around the world.

Read more about where your money goes when you shop at Oxfam.

Box of donations for being given to Oxfam including frog toy, vase and more items

An effective fast fashion alternative is circular fashion. Fast fashion promotes a throw away culture by producing clothes that aren’t made to last. By donating your clothes, you are giving them another chance at life while supporting a charity.

If you wardrobe is overflowing, yet you often feel like you have nothing to wear, it’s probably time for a clear out. Consider donating anything you haven’t worn in over 6 months or anything that doesn’t fit well.

If you’re busy, it’s tempting to throw your unwanted clothes in the bin. Did you know around 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household black bins every year? If you don’t have time to get to the charity shop, you can donate via post for free with Oxfam.

Shop for timeless essentials

A grey silk vintage shirt with floral detail

Fast fashion is clothing that’s inspired by trends to keep customers shopping as frequently as possible. If we build a wardrobe of trendy fashion, the things we own will quickly feel outdated, furthering our need to keep shopping.

Timeless fashion is clothing that doesn’t represent a particular time or trend. But how can you find timeless clothes? Look for items that fit you well, have versatility and are high quality. Choosing neutrals means you won’t have patterns that become outdated or colours that you won’t be able to mix and match.

Timeless clothing doesn’t have to be boring. Read our tips on building a second hand capsule wardrobe.

Shop for good quality

close up of two items of clothing. One has a label saying 100% polyester, the other has a label saying 100% wool

High quality, durable clothing can be more expensive. If you find yourself buying the same cheap item again and again, consider investing in pieces that will last longer.

You can save money by finding high quality clothing second hand. But, how do you know if clothing is high quality?

  • Look our for natural materials like 100% cotton, wool or silk.
  • Poor stitching can be a sign of low quality. Is the fabric bunching along the seam? Are the seams double layered?
  • Check if the fabric is thin or sheer. Thicker fabric will be more durable.
  • Hunt for vintage clothes first. A lot of older items are higher quality than today’s.

Learn how to repair clothes

denim with holes in with blue thread and cream thread and sewing needles

One of the best ways you can extend the life of your clothing is by repairing them when they get damaged.

You can even have some fun with your repairs by checking out our tutorial on how to repair clothes with embroidery.

Having basic alteration skills can make charity shopping easier. Knowing how to shorten trouser lengths, tighten a dress or replace buttons means there will be so many more options available to you in the charity shop.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, many repairs can be done with hand sewing. You may also find that your local community center hosts sewing sessions, where you can access machines. There are also no-sew alteration methods using products like fabric tape.