Focusing on the future: sustainable fashion movement

Annie Bieda, Staff Writer

What does the lifespan of an article of clothing look like? For items from brands such as SHEIN, that wearable period could be very brief, based on the website’s reviews. Low quality, trendy, and cheap are just some of the well known attributes of fast fashion. Sustainably and ethically sourced clothing can be hard to come by and be expensive, leaving many high school students with decisions to be made. 

For sophomore Gabrielle Chen, thrifting reaps many benefits. Thrift stores often offer a wide variety of used garments and accessories at low prices.

“I thrift because it is a lot less expensive than buying things from retail stores. Thrifting offers more options to expand the style of clothing that you wear. It is also a lot better for the environment because reusing the clothing allows it to stay out of the landfill,” Chen said. 

Chen has been able to locate staple pieces in her wardrobe at local thrift stores. However, those articles may be hard to come by among the abundance of clothing within the store. 

Sustainably-created garments are becoming more relevant in today’s society. Pacsun, a major clothing retailer geared towards teens, has taken steps to increase their selection for their eco line. Senior Jordan Mann, employed at Pacsun, has observed the performance of the line. 

“The Pacsun eco line is probably not as popular as Brandy Melville and Playboy, but there is still a small following of teenage girls. It’s really affordable, and the pricing is comparable to our other products,” Mann said. 

Many sustainable brands, unlike Pacsun and their variety of lines, can come at a high cost. Many high school students could find themselves working several shifts at a minimum-wage job just to pay for a single article from these brands. 

“Sustainable brands can be really expensive. Places like Reformation, which is a leading brand that stands for sustainability, are expensive compared to brands from Target and Forever 21. If the funds are available, it is great to shop sustainably,” senior Annelise Richardson said. 

Richardson, like most high school students, makes an effort to avoid high expenses. She is able to do this in a sustainable way by thrift shopping. Another effort towards sustainability that she participates in is investing in high quality garments that can be worn on many occasions, also known as basics. 

A company known for their basics is Brandy Melville. The brand carries an abundance of both casual and dressy pieces. Mann has acquired a significant collection of Brandy Melville items because her workplace is a retailer for the brand. Because it is priced higher than most of Pacsun’s basics, one could assume that it is high quality. 

“The items that I own from Brandy Melville tend to fray or rip easily, especially at the seams,” Mann said. 

Because it brings an abundance of customers into the store, Mann predicts that Pacsun will remain a Brandy Melville retailer for a long time. 

Emma Chamberlain, a 19-year-old youtuber and Pacsun ambassador, plays a key role in this. Chamberlain, with over 10 million subscribers, is known for her fashion, which is perceived as iconic to many. This new collaboration sends mixed messages because Chamberlain has promoted thrifting and minimized the used clothing stigma via depop, a platform for secondhand trendy fashion, in the past. 

Regardless of Chamberlain’s puzzling influence, depop’s popularity has skyrocketed. Richardson utilizes the platform in an effort to be sustainable.

“When I am searching for a specific clothing item, I search for it on depop,” Richardson said.

Richardson and Chen emphasize that no human is perfectly sustainable from a fashion standpoint. 

“While you want to be shopping ethically and sustainably, it can come with obstacles. Budget and availability can make it tough to always shop sustainably. Fast fashion is unavoidable here in the US, but we can do our part to minimize our environmental impact,” Chen said.