Sale season is upon us! As we make our way into November, wondering where the hell the rest of the year went, retailers are slashing their prices. One of the biggest misconceptions about discounts, particularly with high street fashion, is that it’s reflective of its ‘true value’. The thought is, “why buy something at full price, at £39.99 when I’m almost certain it’ll go for £15.99 a month later?”. There is so much confusion about what a fast fashion item is really worth but with prices like these, it’s likely that someone somewhere is paying the price for us. And often, it’s with their livelihood. This year saw the Boohoo group investigated for near slave labour and the Bangladesh worker strike where a reported 7,000 labourers were sacked, simply for participating.

    Consider the shocking statistic that the garment industry is the second largest polluter in the world. Perhaps not so surprising when you remember the statistic that over 60% of clothing is made with synthetic fabrics. This includes blends such as polyamide and acrylic, a common combination in knitwear. This means that once that jumper been used to the end of its life, it cannot be easily recycled. So, into the landfill it goes. What seemed like a pretty affordable £15.99 isn’t so appealing when it’s lasted less than a few washes and it’s a plastic fibre.

    The standard lifespan of clothing, according to the brand Reformation, is 52 washes. That’s about one wear a week for a year. It’s really nothing when you view it through a wide angle lens. And even then, you’ll likely be looking at less. Fast fashion practices planned obsolescence, the design of a product to only last a limited amount of time, to encourage more frequent purchases. 

    The good news is that there has been a shift in consumer attitude. More are picking up sustainable habits and it’s not hard to see why – it’s easier on your finances to buy less but better, repair and up-cycle. And the best time to practice choosing well is to head to the luxury retailers during their sales period. It’s where I find the best additions to my wardrobe that last years. And just because something is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean they’re significantly better quality or use premium materials, therefore the same tips I share on Mindful Monday still apply.

    When it comes to shopping the sales period sustainably, focus on natural materials. There are three main reasons, the first is comfort: Most natural fibres are hypoallergenic and therefore, gentler on your skin than fossil fuel fabrics. The second and more generally speaking, natural materials are more expensive to use. Of course, there are different qualities within each category, but it’s highly unlikely that Prada uses the same papery cotton you may find at Zara. Third reason is its impact on the environment. While silk is not considered strictly vegan and cotton is extremely water-intensive, consider the larger issues with plastic fabrics that use more polluting, toxic chemicals.


    can sales be sustainable?


    Other helpful practices is to write a list of what you feel you’re missing in your wardrobe. After you do a quick audit, looking at what you definitely need to replace or refresh, you may find the list is very small. The danger of simply browsing, mindlessly scrolling through pages of clothes that kind of look the same, is that you’re more likely to make an impulse buy. “It’s a really good price”, is not a good enough reason.

    I truly believe that shopping sustainably forces you to hone your personal style. This means that you’re less likely to be negatively influenced by something you see on Instagram or a celebrity’s outfit on TV. So you’re welcome, you’ve just saved yourself some cash and the agony of lusting after something that probably isn’t worth the money. When you’re restricted to better quality materials, a budget and a checklist, you start to curate what you’re adding to cart. If you have to ask a friend their opinion on something, it’s likely not a true reflection of your tastes. You’d be sure you love it and need it.


    To read more about how I find great deals during the sales, take a look at this interview I did with Farfetch. 

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