Sustainable Shopping Made Easy on Instagram

In 2018, Lyst, a fashion search engine, tracked over 100 million searches on their website over a 12 month period and saw a 47% increase in shoppers looking for items that have ethical and sustainable style credentials. Despite the emphasis on sustainable fashion and the rise of brands like Outdoor Voices, Reformation and Everlane, shopping ethically can be a challenge when you don’t know where to start or the brands are outside of your price range. With the use of toxic chemicals, increased levels of textile waste and the vast amount of water pollution, fast fashion is a major competent when it comes to climate change. However, it can be very difficult to shop sustainably considering an H&M shirt is $40 compared to $98 at Reformation. This is where shopping secondhand comes into play. 

Sustainable fashion is defined as “the growing design philosophy and movement towards environmental and social sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility.” Sustainability doesn’t always mean buying from new brands. It can also be purchasing secondhand items. Secondhand clothing has become popular through buying and selling on Instagram. Consumers are taking it into their own hands by making sustainable fashion easily accessible and affordable to the greater public. We found four secondhand clothing Instagram pages and discussed their inspiration behind their brand, fashion choices, and their advice on how to stop buying fast fashion. 

Sustainable Fashion | SuitandSilk Instgram
(@suitandsilk | Instagram)

A32: What inspired you to create your Instagram? 

Olivia (@suitandsilk): I created out of the need to get rid of a couple pieces. It’s evolved a lot in two years and I’ve recreated my Insta several times as I evolve too. 

Brookelynn (@yelloweyesvintage): I had been brainstorming ideas for an online store for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to do it since I was a college student living in a dorm with a roommate. I was constantly finding cool pieces and knew I wanted to share them and encourage sustainability and secondhand shopping. One day, I got a burst of inspiration while thrifting and just decided to make an account and try to sell through there. I had sold some things casually on an Instagram account before, but I never took it too seriously. I reactivated that account, changed the name, and went from there! 

Lauren (@hopevintagethrift): What inspired me was just my love and passion of thrifting and finding awesome vintage clothing. Also, I saw other thrift pages that were just starting so I figured why not start my own business. 

Emma (@rosegirlsvintage): I created this shop/IG because I’ve always loved fashion and having fun with what I wear— and there is just something about the uniqueness of vintage pieces that really gets me! However, when I started doing this, it was mainly as a way to make extra cash throughout college. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve decided to dedicate myself full time to Rose Girls and push myself to make it successful! I’ve always known that I wouldn’t have a “traditional” career, and this has honestly become my calling! I love the fact that I can stay sustainable and do a little something to help Mother Earth. 

RoseGirlsVintage Instgram
(@rosegirlsvintage | Instagram)

A32: Do current fashion trends inspire your collection? 

Olivia: Yes and no. History always repeats itself, especially in fashion. Trends are always coming back. So, a lot of pieces I bring in do reflect current trends, but WERE the original trend. 

Brookelynn: Definitely! It’s not necessarily on purpose, but I do gather a lot of inspiration from people online who follow current trends, which I feel plays a part in what I buy and sell. I love to experiment with my outfits. But, I recognize that not everyone always does. Therefore, I like offering a mix of simple basics and trendier out-there pieces. Blazers are still really trendy, for example, so I offer a lot of them in different sizes and styles. I like to think that it inspires others to be more adventurous with their style too! That’s the beauty of vintage/secondhand/one-of-a-kind shopping. 

Lauren: Current fashion trends do inspire my collection but it mostly comes from my liking and styles I love and hope others will love too! 

Emma: I would say current fashion trends definitely influence my collection, but they do not define it. Of course, it is easier to sell items that are on trend, but I am always sure to include some quirky vintage clothing on the site! But honestly, today, a lot of trends are super vintage-influenced which I love (i.e. mom jeans) 

HopeVintageThrift Instgram
(@hopevintagethrift | Instagram)

A32: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is trying to stop buying fast fashion? 

Olivia: Buy used! Buying from ethical new brands is great, but they’re producing waste no matter what. We all are! There are enough clothes on the planet to last us all a hundred lifetimes. Get creative with your finds to make them yours, and don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve found myself way more bold with my style since I started finding vintage pieces. They have a story and are way more interesting! 

Brookelynn: Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t feel guilty if you’re not perfect at it! Things that are done in moderation still make a huge difference. Shopping secondhand is hard for some people. I make it a point to never judge anyone for their journey towards cutting out fast fashion. I always recommend that people just experiment, and be patient! For people who don’t thrift often, I always suggest spending the day really looking through some stores and feeling it out. If it’s not for you, or if there is limited sizing, whatever the case may be, go online!

There are so many amazing apps and resources to help people buy and sell new and vintage clothing. If there’s a brand you know you like, search for it on Depop, Etsy, ThredUp or Poshmark. The chances of finding some goodies are high! But, at the end of the day, different things work for different people. The important things are consuming less, creating a more circular fashion industry and accumulating less waste. It feels much better to wear an outfit knowing it was purchased responsibly, doesn’t harm workers or the planet, and that very few people have the same pieces as you. Nobody is perfect, though, and any steps towards a more ethical wardrobe are positive ones!

Lauren: One piece of advice I would give someone would be that shopping secondhand is better for the environment and you can find some awesome pieces that look as good as new if you really search! The hardest ones to find are the best ones. Secondhand is the way to go. 

Emma: Try. Do your best and do it slowly if you have to. Don’t feel like a total failure when you slip up or else you could end up quitting completely. Doing something, even if it’s a little, is better than doing nothing. 

YellowEyesVintage Instgram
(@yelloweyesvintage | Instagram)

Making Small Steps Towards Sustainable Fashion

Shopping solely sustainable fashion is impossible to achieve overnight. Every effort towards not supporting fast fashion is a step in the right direction. Secondhand Instagram pages are a great starting point. It is like a curated thrift experience like no other. Next time you want to online shop, check these Instagram pages and you will find one-of-a-kind pieces without creating waste. 

Elham Mohamud

Lifestyle Director

Elham is twenty-year-old student, aspiring writer, and city lover stuck in Minnesota. A lover of quirky donut shops, professional athletes, attending concerts, and a consumer of too many iced caramel macchiatos.

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