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Since middle school, fashion has been “my thing.” I get such a thrill out of picking out pieces and figuring out what goes together to create the perfect outfit. During high school, these items were affordable and easy to find at stores like Forever 21 or Urban Outfitters. Sales were always taking place, and it felt like there were constant new collections to choose from of trendy clothes and accessories. Thus, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that the low prices were a byproduct of fast fashion. Stores that frequent most local malls can constantly debut new lines and promote deals because of how little money and thought are put into the production of these items. The idea that my shopping habits were not the most environmentally conscious choices did not sit right with me. However, the execution of transitioning to a completely sustainable wardrobe was more difficult than the promise to do so.

[bf_image id="xv7ctjk9mc5n7zbbmfn8twcc"] One thing that quickly became evident as I began my quest to only buy non-fast fashion pieces is that most stores in malls and plazas did not carry what I was looking for. All of the brands that I had supported both in-person and online, like Zara and Nasty Gal, were actually some of the largest contributors to cheap labor. I then shifted my focus to more high-end lines based on the premise of sustainability. I was dishing out two to three times more on clothes that I previously had been from companies like Reformation and justifying it in the name of the environment. However, it quickly became clear that it was not realistic to be shopping from these pricy brands just because of their guarantees of ethically produced clothing. I felt like I had reached a wall in my mission; all around me were stores that participated in fast fashion, but the only apparent alternatives were not affordable.

[bf_image id="kmj7wvnggrtx8rptjr5sqps"] This is where I finally turned to secondhand clothing shops. While it seems that this should have been the obvious solution from the beginning, I think it is crucial to recognize that there is an unfortunate stigma against thrift shopping in many households. I was not allowed to shop in these stores when I was younger because of the concern over the cleanliness of used items. Once I unlearned this mindset, an entirely new world of fashion opened up for me. My preferred outlet for thrifting is the app Depop, where online sellers post the clothes that they are letting go of or have designed themselves. I have found some extremely unique pieces at reasonable prices that have elevated my wardrobe. I am still navigating how to score the best finds at secondhand shops, but it is a process that I am enjoying. It always feels like a success to come across a vintage item that would perfectly complement other pieces in my closet. Almost every clothing purchase of mine in the last year has been an environmentally conscious one, a fact which I am proud of.

Zara Fatteh is a sophomore at University of California, Davis studying International Relations and Spanish. She enjoys traveling with her family, trying new restaurants, and reading as much as she can.
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