How Does Sustainable Fashion Fuel Capitalism?

Views on thrift shopping have changed drastically over the years. In comparison to the time when it was associated with people who had less money, it is hard to believe how quickly these views changed when vintage fashion became a trend.

However, with the increase in the popularity of vintage clothing, there also came an increase in their price tags. Not only have thrift stores made their items more expensive, but charity shops have followed in their footsteps too. Those with a lower disposable income, who rely on these shops to expand their wardrobes, now have few cheaper alternatives to buying brand new clothes.

The people with the best intentions and a desire to be more sustainable, who tend to have less money, have yet again been pushed aside. Fashion brands capitalise off of most trends, making it difficult to keep up if you do not have money to continually spend on clothes. Thrift stores and charity shops became their avenue to express their style and they are no longer accessible to the individuals who made them popular.

Fashion brands know exactly what they are doing - they know that their consumers are beginning to make a shift towards sustainability, which they are using to generate profit. It is no surprise that greenwashing is common in the industry. If these brands claim to be environmentally friendly when they are not, they know that a lot of people will not bother to do any research and will accept what they are saying as true. However, customers are finally taking a stand and researching into the brands and clothing they buy into.

Sustainability seems to be a marketing strategy for fast fashion brands, yet it is not something they pride themselves in achieving. It is just another box to tick. Calling out brands for greenwashing will uncover those who see sustainability as a tool for capitalism. This is why it is important to expose those of high power who are knowingly misleading and deceiving their customers.

Most brands pry on the fact that their clothes are made from sustainable materials. Although this is important, there are many other factors which need to be considered before they can claim to be ethical. They do not realise that in order to be ethical and sustainable, they must guarantee proper and respectful treatment of their staff and good working conditions. It is how little they pay their workers which enables them to make such a big profit from their ‘sustainable’ clothing, which is guaranteed to come with a hefty price tag.

People who start up their own sustainable fashion brands, including Depop users, are renowned for their expensive prices. However, we are left to question what alternatives there are for people who want to build a wardrobe of sustainable fashion. With thrift, charity, vintage and Depop stores raising their prices, there seems to be no way around the inflation of sustainable fashion.

Sustainable fashion may have become the latest tool for capitalism. Is it too late to change this, or will we have to wait until vintage fashion is no longer a trend for the prices to drop? Until then, those who rely on second-hand shopping are suffering the consequences and yet again the fashion industry proves to be classist and unattainable for all.

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