Fashion has never been more disposable. A quick scroll through the fashion hashtag on Instagram will present you with an endless feed of bloggers’ Shein hauls and Boohoo Ootds.
Because mass produced clothing is sold at cheap prices, it is often treated as disposable by consumers. It feels like every day there’s a new trend, promoted by the latest influencer, that’s being swept off the rails and destined to spend eternity gathering dust in a wardrobe or decomposing (slowly) in landfill.
Keeping up with these trends seems like harmless fun, and it may not be obvious that the clothes we wear are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to harming the planet. Carbon emissions, excessive water consumption and the release of microplastics into the environment are just some of the problems fast fashion presents – not to mention the exploitation of garment workers.
The good news is that slow fashion is on the rise. With well-known Irish personalities like Roz Purcell and Tara Stewart using their platforms to educate others on the sins of the fast fashion world, as well as to advocate for shopping second-hand, it seems thrifting is now on trend.
Depop is at the forefront of the sustainable fashion movement. Experiencing a massive influx of users since the pandemic hit, it describes itself as “the fashion marketplace app where the next generation comes to discover unique items”.
The platform is a godsend for young designers and entrepreneurs looking to grow their small companies.
“I really love being able to curate the style and aesthetic of my shop to build my brands image. I’m not very tech savvy so it takes away the pressure of maintaining my own website because Depop hosts my shop. The app also has several features to highlight their sellers which from my experience has been beneficial for gaining followers and boosting sales,” she says.
Ní Dochartaigh, who describes her personal style as a hybrid of a gothic Bratz doll and Sporty Spice, handpicks the majority of her stock from European thrift markets.
“Sustainable fashion is really important to me,” she says. “Fast fashion has an undoubtedly negative impact on the environment and the people producing our clothes, so sustainable fashion is a great way to avoid these harmful consequences. I also really love finding funky items that you won’t find on the high street. It definitely helps you to cultivate your own distinctive personal style. And it stops clothes from going to landfill which is always a bonus.”
Blaithnaid Devilly is a Dublin-based stylist who is also reaping the benefits of Depop for her store, Bedelic. A lover of all things 1970s – she tells me she could watch Reeling in the Years on repeat just to see what people wore – Devilly uses Depop to sell handpicked pre-loved garments.
Bedelic stemmed from her love of fashion’s ability to express one’s personality and a nostalgia for the charity shops she would frequent as a child. Through uploading aesthetically pleasing images and styling unique looks, Devilly garnered attention and built a following on social media.
“I wanted to create a place where people of any style, size or gender could find what they are looking for and feel comfortable in standing out from the crowd and being whoever they want to be,” says Devilly.
Devilly admits that her lifelong love for sustainable fashion was less to do with an eco-conscious mindset and more so a desire for an original personal style.
“It was only when I started to sell online did I realise the importance of someone purchasing second-hand and the positive impact this new obsession could have in fighting climate change.”
If you’re a fast fashion addict, starting your journey can be a bit daunting. Devilly’s advice is to start with what you already own.
“Take everything out of your wardrobe and try to style new looks together. It can be quite fun to play dress up while blaring your favourite tunes. Guaranteed you will come up with 10 new looks that you would have bought straight out of a magazine.
“If you’re not ready to drop fast fashion completely, then I have this rule where if you do buy from brands, buy something that would last over ten years. You see the fast fashion era arose from the manufacturing of low quality clothes needing to be replaced faster, which in turn created the mindset of clothing being disposable.
“The price of these garments don’t reflect on their true cost. You will certainly have to spend more money on your new garments but the clothing would be better quality and down the line you will purchase less.”