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Fashion

How to Shop for Sustainable Going Out Clothes

Let’s set the scene: you are going out on a Friday night with your friends and are looking for that perfect top and jeans that will catch everyone’s eye. However, your options for finding this one-of-a-kind top are in the forms of unethical online shops like SHEIN and just as horrible in-store places like Forever 21.

Now, you’re stuck in the never-ending black hole of online stores and wondering if it is even worth it to go out. 

I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can get the best of both worlds — both hot AND sustainable clothing — in one go. I’ve researched the best ethical consumption for party clothing and this semester’s go-to sites for your shopping addiction. 

To start, I would highly, highly recommend downloading the app Good On You to test out if certain sites are safe and environmentally friendly. This app rates and scores different brands from: ‘We Avoid’ to ‘Great,’ and offers ways to filter through prices, clothing items, and size. This way, if you are ever unsure about a brand’s ethics, you can search here and find their score as well as similar stores. 

  1. ThredUP

ThredUP’s mission is to end the evolving fashion waste crisis by offering secondhand clothing through their accessible online store with affordable prices. They contend the current fads of fast fashion and the constant need for new clothing when we have perfectly good fashion within our reach. Their goal is to modernize thrifting through their online store and their endless commitment to extending the life of clothing pieces. ThredUP has so far processed 100 million garments that otherwise would have ended up in a pile of waste; therefore displacing one billion pounds of CO2. After browsing their website that offers more than 35,000 brands and up to 90% off, I found thousands of pieces that I would wear on a night out. From designer brands to even SHEIN, thredUP has it all and more. Their mission, work, along with their wide range of variety in their fashion, is more than enough reason to give this site a chance!

  1. Depop

Depop became popularized within the past three years, and rightfully so. They, similar to thredUP, offer plenty of secondhand clothing for users to browse and buy. However, customers buy directly from sellers and can negotiate prices at their own discretion and desire. Now, I know what you are thinking — don’t sellers just upsell the pieces they post? While this may be true for some of the sellers and clothes, there’s many other sellers who have reasonable prices and are more than willing to compromise with you. I have bought more than a few pieces from sellers and have been happy with every single one!

Although I haven’t tried the selling end of it yet, it is also a great option for selling the clothes you have stacked at the bottom of your closet. Their website and mobile app make it easy to search for any type of going out item that you need, and they offer a large selection of brands, prices, and sizes. Depop is always a good place to look for specific pieces from brands that you don’t want to directly support as well as pieces that are no longer available. Their going out assortment is hard to beat, as almost all of the pieces sold are modern and in style! 

  1. Reformation

Although Reformation is a bit on the pricier side when it comes to going out tops and clothing in general, their sustainability commitment makes the price tag worth it. Their mission is directly focused on providing healthy and safe environments for their workers, along with ensuring they are getting paid fairly. Reformation’s factory is based in L.A., and their prices are higher than others due to the proper wages, dues, and money spent on making sure their clothing is being produced ethically. To steer clear from the unsustainable elements of fast fashion and poor quality fabrics, a lot of the fabrics used are recycled or low-impact materials. Reformation goes beyond what a company needs to do to stay renewable, and they have done so by being a 100% carbon neutral company. They’re seriously dedicated to combining cute clothes and viability, which makes them the perfect choice to shop from. They also have sales and discounts, so the harm done to your wallet does not have to be nearly as bad!

  1. H&M

H&M is pretty new to the sustainability game, but they are an affordable and easily accessible shop, so they had to earn a place on my list. They have a “garment collecting” program where customers can bring in bags of old clothing, fabrics, and textiles to receive a thank-you coupon to use on future purchases. This promotes an end to fashion waste by recycling old clothing and passing it forward. This is a great way for a company to remain non-expendable. H&M still has work to do on ending their part in fast fashion cycles, but they have started to rebuild and do so. On their site you’ll find all the ways they are actively engaging in better working practices by making their factories sign agreements for fair wages, good working conditions, and animal welfare. They avoid “toxic chemicals, fossil-based energy sources, and single-use packaging” to avoid any further harm to the water and air. H&M has come a long way from being a sister store to Forever 21, and their revamp makes them all the more shoppable. Their prices are perfect for going out clothes, and their pieces have the modern style that other stores sometimes lack.

It’s pretty simple: fast fashion has got to go and companies need to start taking accountability for the awful nature of their factories and working environments. We as consumers need to stop giving our money to places that do not care about our future health, the environment, ethical practices, and those who work for them. These stores are the best outlets we have to not partake in fast fashion trends and do our part to holistically help the planet. I know I will be making this commitment, and you should too!

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Bryanna Harnedy

U Mass Amherst '24

Freshman Member of the Umass Amherst Chapter
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