Be mindful of your wardrobe’s longevity
As a teen, the brands that cater to us often have “New Arrivals Day” and “Trend Lookbooks”. These are designed to be momentary, so we can add to the cart then rinse and repeat when new products are released. It’s understandable wanting to keep our wardrobe updated and fresh! But it’s important to consider how long you will actually be wearing it. By staying informed about your clothing choices, you can decide on options with better quality and longevity.
Invest in versatile staples
I find that choosing a few staple pieces that I genuinely like—a white tee, solid jeans, a timeless coat—tend to stay with me far longer than fast fashion pieces. It’s much more sustainable to purchase items that have multiple uses.
Take, for example, a plain black turtleneck: it can be worn by itself for a casual look, dressed up to be more formal, or layered for colder weather. It’s far more versatile than buying one piece for each outfit. By slimming down your wardrobe size, you can invest in ethically-made staple pieces that still maintain your style.
Thrift, thrift, thrift!
Not all of us have a large budget or are instantly ready to dive headfirst into conscious brands. Thrifting is a great alternative that still promotes sustainable fashion for teens!
It’s affordable, which is highly attractive for low-cost students. It’s also incredibly accessible, especially for those new to ethical fashion who can’t invest in expensive products immediately. You can head on over to your local thrift shop or browse online with sites like thredUP, or any of these other great options.
As a teen consumer, it also prevents you from handing your money over to large capitalist corporations that continue to churn out tonnes of fast fashion waste. As a result, thrifting is very sustainable for students—keeping your wallet happy and your carbon footprint minimal.
Remember: our choices matter
Make an effort to keep yourself informed as you dive into ethical and sustainable fashion for teens. Research your usual brands and make the decision as a shopper to support those that prioritise the wellbeing of people, the planet, and animals. I have the Good On You app downloaded on my phone to double-check brand ratings while shopping. A quick search is no more than a few taps away. An ethical company’s job is to keep itself transparent, from labour to production. If I doubt it, I don’t buy it.
Keep in mind ethical fashion doesn’t imply that you must immediately clear out your closet and buy an entirely new wardrobe. It’s about being conscious of your choices and buying items that won’t end up in a dumpster after a few uses. It’s about knowing exactly where your products are from and how they’re made—a right you justly deserve as a buyer. As a teenager, it may be easy to consider your judgements insignificant, but we as a demographic contribute significantly to the fast fashion economy—Gen Z contributes about $830 billion a year in retail spending!
As a consumer, even a young one, your choices are important. Make the right ones.
Author bio: Rachel Hua is a current undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Cognitive Science and Computer Science with an additional concentration in design. At Berkeley, she remains passionate about establishing consumer awareness and making resources accessible to underrepresented students. Outside of writing and academics, you can find her making art and looking for a good matcha place. Find Rachel on Instagram @byrachelhua.