Slow fashion is generally not affordable for most consumers. Sustainable, ethical, and eco-friendly fashion is more expensive than fast fashion for many reasons.
Luckily, there are simple ways to buy slow fashion even if you have a limited budget. Just think outside the box to easily afford sustainable fashion.
You can thrift, buy vintage or second-hand clothing, renew your wardrobe with clothing rental, reuse, repurpose, and upcycle used items into new pieces, or simply buy fewer clothes.
Price is the biggest hurdle when it comes to buying eco-friendly fashion. When shopping for anything other than basics, sustainable clothing prices are generally very high and aren't accessible to most people.
To afford sustainably and ethically made clothes with a limited budget, don't shop for expensive clothing. This might seem like the most obvious idea but it isn't the easiest to do.
Get interested in sustainability
The latest CGS Retail Survey reveals that sustainability is critical, especially in the fashion industry. Both in the U.S. and U.K., 30% of consumers would stop using a brand completely if it didn't use sustainable and ethical practices, and more than 30% would purchase less frequently.
However, supporting sustainable and ethical fashion brands means investing more money on clothes. For budget-friendly fashionistas, the first step is to avoid expensive conscious collections.
The most sustainable garment in your wardrobe is the one you already own. The best way to save money and the planet is to buy fewer clothes. As consumers, we need to think more about the consequences behind our purchasing decisions.
Why you need to buy less clothing
The social and environmental impact of disposable clothing is terrifying. The overproduction and overconsumption of cheaply made clothing result in disasters for people, animals, and the planet.
It's time to move away from excessive consumerism to save money, resources, water, and energy. Buying fewer clothes is one of the best ways to shop for slow fashion on a budget.
It also helps the environment tremendously by saving resources used in the production of new clothing pieces and preventing more textile waste from ending up in landfills.
If you have a limited budget but want to build an ethical wardrobe, start by buying less clothing overall.
Do your research. You can do a bit of work and research your favorite fashion brands once you know what to look for. Learn how and where they make their clothes, how they measure their sustainability progress.
Read up how we rate ethical and sustainable fashion for inspiration.
Look for sustainable brands
Looking for ethical clothing brands is an important step to afford slow fashion on a budget. As a consumer, it gives you the power to make better choices and influence the fashion industry.
Seek out which clothing brand is the best for you, which one is the most affordable and doing better by the planet, people, and animals. Fashion brands need to keep improving and take greater responsibility toward the environment.
Ask questions about sustainable fashion
It's easy to forget how the clothes you’re wearing were made and how they got to you. Before buying any new clothing, it's crucial to ask important questions about slow fashion.
It's time to move away from fast fashion and cheaply made clothing. Instead, choose more durable and high-quality pieces that fit your lifestyle perfectly and last longer.
If you can, check the fabric quality before buying any new piece of clothing to ensure the clothes are well-made, enduring, and long-lasting.
Understand quality materials
Look for high-quality materials, natural and organic, such as linen, hemp, jute, ramie, or recycled such as rPET, regenerated nylon, recycled cotton, or regenerated cellulosic fibers like lyocell, modal, cupro.
Buy fabrics resistant to stretch
Go for fabrics that are stretch-resistant, that keep their strength and shape after being pulled out. Prioritize a soft hand feel, and comfort to avoid red, irritated, and itchy skin.
Go for heavier fabric weight
Lightweight fabrics tend to be cheaper but are also less resistant and sometimes see-through. Fabric weight is a great sign of strong structure and can help you pick more durable pieces.
Another simple way of shopping for slow fashion on a budget is to consider buying second-hand clothes. Thrift shopping and vintage clothing are gaining massive popularity for good reasons.
Why buy second-hand fashion
The second-hand clothing market is booming. Resale shops are expected to double in the next five years.
The second-hand apparel market was valued at USD 28 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 51 billion in 2023, according to GlobalData’s assessment of the market.
Consumers all other the world can choose second-hand clothing as an affordable solution as new sustainable clothes become popular but remain expensive for many people.
At your local thrift store, resale shop, or online marketplaces, you can find cheap, stylish, and unique pieces to build an ethical and affordable wardrobe.
Vintage and second-hand clothes are ideal for those that want to shop sustainably on a budget. They require no additional resources to produce and reduce textile waste ending up into landfills.
You can go to online resale shops or their brick-and-mortar counterparts to find cheap stylish pieces that nobody is wearing.
You can also buy second-hand items from your friends and family. This one is a no brainer. Ask them if they may want to get rid of any clothes they have and propose a fair price.
Organizing a clothing swap with your friends and family over the weekend is a very fun experience. You can set up a pop-up shop at your house and invite your friends over.
It's a great opportunity to get rid of the clothes you don't wear in your closet, as well as refresh your wardrobe with new looks for the coming season.
You can also search for clothing swap groups in your area on Meetup if you don’t have any friends in your size to trade clothes with.
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