Have you ever shopped at TopShop, Forever 21, or H&M?
If so, you’ve participated in fast fashion, a term fashion retailers use to describe designs that move rapidly from the catwalk to clothing racks. Fast fashion is characterized not only by the breakneck speed at which it hits stores….but also by its swift decline into obsolescence. Whomp, whomp.
Often traced back to Zara, the strategy of fast fashion is to update collections often, using low-grade manufacturing processes to produce clothes cheaply enough that consumers can afford to chase trends, even while knowing the clothes will fall apart by the time the fad passes.
Today’s brief clothing lifecycle has likely turned your closet to a wasteland–-and it threatens to do just the same to our planet! According to the EPA, 84 percent of unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went to either a landfill or an incinerator. As natural fibers degrade, they produce the powerful greenhouse gas, methane. And because they’ve gone through chemical processes like bleaching or dying, they’re also full of toxins that pollute groundwater (if buried) and the air (if burned). The EPA estimates that a year’s worth of trashed textiles, which can take years to biodegrade, produce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million cars.
So what’s a fashion-loving Earth dweller to do about all of this?
Upcycle! In fashion, upcycling refers to transforming discarded clothing into something new – producing creative, often one-of-a-kind items from would-be trash.
Angelenos are in luck because there are plenty of opportunities to get amazing sustainable fashion in LA. Let’s explore a few of your options:
Reformation (based in LA, ships worldwide) – We get it. Not everyone is into buying second-hand. If you want the look like you just stepped off the runway without the necessity of dismissing your conscious, then Reformation is for you. This LA based, eco-friendly brand is all about sustainability– from purchasing textiles locally to minimizing water and energy to make their clothes. Even cooler, they share the environmental impact of each and every garment they sell on their website, so you can see how you’re reducing your own footprint. They even have children’s clothes for the Mini-Me in your life! Plus, it doesn’t hurt one bit that all of their clothes are beyond drool-worthy.
The Real Real (e-commerce, ships worldwide) – If you crave designer luxury goods but don’t want to ruin the environment or pay luxury prices, check out therealreal.com. They have tons of finds from all your favorite designers, and since everything on their site is second-hand, you won’t be contributing to an industry that produces 10% of the total global carbon emissions. Finally, that Gucci bag you’ve been lusting over can be yours, sans guilt– score!
Wasteland (LA, SF) – With locations in Melrose, Santa Monica and Studio City (plus one in San Francisco), Wasteland is the easiest way to get trendy and designer sustainable clothing without having to open up a new line of credit. Plus, you can bring in your lightly used designer clothes for cash or store credit! Their buyers can be veeeery picky, however, so don’t be offended if they don’t snag any of your used threads; just hop in the car and take them to the next location on our list!
Crossroads (Locations all over LA and the U.S.) – While not as trendy or designer-centric as Wasteland, don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a goldmine every now and again at Crossroads. They’re also generally less picky about what they take, so be sure to bring some of your Wasteland rejects to Crossroads before donating the rest to Goodwill. Who knows, you may just make a very pretty penny.
The Left Bank (Silver Lake) – While quite small compared to other second-hand retailers in LA, this doesn’t mean The Left Bank should be overlooked. Filled with designer clothes, vintage, shoes, jewelry, and even some home goods, this place is a treasure trove of uniqueness. Set aside an hour or two to really scour the place, and don’t be surprised if you leave with a full bag or two of sustainable fashion finds.
Squaresville (Los Feliz) – If you feel like your closet is lacking a little flavor, head no further than Squaresville. Specializing in all things patterned, vintage and kitsch, you’re sure to find a lil’ sustainable something to add a splash of color to that monochromatic closet of yours.
Jet Rag (West Hollywood) – If you’re looking for vintage tees and jeans as far as the eye can see, check out Jet Rag. They’ve got prices that will make your wallet happy, especially on Sundays, when they haul everything out to their parking lot and price it all at $1.00. One. Friggin. Dollar. Now that’s what I call sustainable fashion. You’re welcome.
Rose Bowl Flea Market (Pasadena) – Happening the second Sunday of every month, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is a veritable mother lode of all things second-hand and vintage. Not only will you find more sustainable fashion than one can physically look at in a day there, but with tons of rad furniture and trinkets as well, you’re bound to leave with a U-Haul’s worth of steals.
Melrose Trading Post (West Hollywood) – Though not nearly as large as the Rose Bowl Flea Market, Melrose Trading Post comes in close second. The weekly Sunday flea market has sustainable fashion, decor, and trinkets for everyone, so you can even bring your relatives when they get sick of hunting for celebrities– win, win!
While you’re shopping, why not add to that eco-friendly attitude by parking sustainably with Pavemint. That way, you can get on with adding to your wardrobe, instead of to gas emissions. All in all, it saves, both figuratively and very literally, to shop for sustainable fashion in LA. Have a shop that you think should be on the list? Let us know in the comments!