In Defense of Slow Fashion

Or: why I’m compelled to build a wardrobe of gazelles


I recently threw away my favorite t-shirt. It was a frustrating experience, chiefly because the tee is vaguely irreplacable. I bought it from Zara last summer at the lucrative if not questionable price of $9.90. We had a good run — I must have worn it upward of 50 times — but just a year later, it was destroyed. Stained in places I had never gotten it dirty. Ripped along seams that were barely tugged at. Not worthy of resell, or donation, or even use as a dish cloth. I cringed as I threw it into the garbage. Would it contribute to the waste permeating our planet?

It got me thinking about fashion — both fast and slow, and how the former is beginning to feel a lot like fresh produce.

Which is a terrible thing, you know, because fashion is not supposed to feel like produce.

You are not supposed to buy clothes and then find that you feel guilty when you don’t consume them within 48 hours of purchase.

Independent of your personal taste, which is a matter of aesthetic pleasure, you’re not supposed to worry that your clothes will rot.

Clothes don’t rot.

Our closets are not refrigerators.

They are hurricane cabinets.

Zones primed for nonperishables that can — and will — sustain us whenever hunger strikes.

So I’ve been thinking about what building a reliable wardrobe looks like and I keep coming back to good quality jeans and white shirts and extravagant shoes that don’t want to yell, but kind of just do. Recently, I’ve also been really into belts.

I am never not a proponent for the seasonally in/appropriate jacket. The thing is, these tend to be the items that are the least exciting to buy. The shit you get because every woman knows, you’ve got to have “the basics,” right?

But think about this for a second. When you feel most excited to get something, how long does that relationship with the garment last? How long do you really feel excited! Connected! Awesome! On trend!

A month? Two months? Maybe three?

Now think about the last white shirt you bought. Did you even think twice?

Are you wearing it today?

Me too!

It’s not so different from companionship, you see. Because the suitors who get your heart racing — and keep it racing — are often the ones who disappoint you. Who fall off. And offend.

The ones that feel easy, though? That don’t make you think or second guess yourself; that shine the g-dang flashlight on your Pantene-locks — they stick around 4-lyfe.

And this, I submit, is what we should aspire toward with our wardrobes.

Of course, there is the question of whether building a “sustainable wardrobe” — a closet of hurricane survival tips — contradicts The Fashion Experience. That is, the ability to play dress up day in and out. To wear your temporary tattoo in the form of a skirt, or a dress, to cover your body in a mask that extolls one thing but then the following day decisively rejects it.

There’s also got to be a happy medium, so I’m proposing the following:

Buy less, wear more.

I know it doesn’t sound novel — but that’s because it’s not. And yes, duh, I know that a splurge can mean $300 for one person, $15 for another. I also know that the culture we have helped to cultivate is one that acts impulsively, that galvanizes the “treat yo’self!” mentality, but we can break that pattern.

We can save our money and wait to buy the thing that stops us in our tracks and steals our heart. We can invest in quality that will last beyond next season. It’s like passing on the salad in order to be really, really hungry for the thing you’ve actually been craving. You’ll be so much more satisfied, and when you look back on it one, two, five years from now, chances are you’ll think: yeah. I still want to wear this.

And what’s better, really, than knowing yourself that well?

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis


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  • Lua Jane

    This makes perfect sense! And is in fact a moto I try to follow with more or less succes. In winter it’s somehow easier, because you need good coat, pants, and solid amount of cashmere to survive. Pants may optionally be leather and so may a pencil skirt. In summer I’m more prone to buying stuff that is cheaper and looks interesting, but doesn’t really last me too long. I regret when I look at the pile of clothes I give away or throw away thinking how much good money went into this, and I could have invested in designer, or simply quality item I’d love.

    • I used to feel a little better by donating the clothing. Then I found out that we donate so much clothing (and such poor quality) that thrift stores in the U.S. cant sell it all. They ship most of it to third world countries!

  • Ella Viscardi

    I’m all for slow fashion. My mother aka shopping sensei raised me with a mentality of quality over quantity when it came to the closet. Whenever we’d go shopping and I tried something on, she’d ask me if I liked it or loved it. Only the loved pieces – few and far between – were purchased, but most of them stayed in my style cycle for years.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I wish I had this discipline – like verses love. I’m working on it because I’m sick of the impulse buying!

      • Catalina

        SICK OF IT!

      • You can do it Amelia! I was the same way. Now I try to buy from independent designers, and it feels great to know I supported a small business who produces in the U.S. And I feel proud to see those pieces in my wardrobe. 🙂

    • Lua Jane

      Your mother is indeed a shopping sensei!

    • Leandra Medine

      You’re also clearly very honest! If I knew the way to get my mom to buy me stuff was to say I loved it as opposed to like it id have used that trick on her for as long as it would work

      • Kent Noseworthy

        Are the photos at the lead of the article of you?
        You look fantastic! ?

    • I love to hear that! More mothers should do this!

  • Liz Warners

    I love that term, slow fashion. I think I know this in my heart, but my head is the one that gets impulsive and buys the shirts that only get worn once or twice before they go to resale. I’m trying to work on quality over quantity. When I think about the pieces in my wardrobe I love, it boils down to pieces like the blazer I bought in college that I wear to my desk job now, and the sexy dress I splurged on and bust out at weddings and fancy date nights which I have had for probably 4 years. Slow and steady my friends.

    • It’s best to start with the basics, like you said. Those are pieces you know you will wear over and over and won’t get tired of. It’s better to spend more on something of quality, rather than having to replace it every year. It’s more expensive in the end, and terrible for the environment!

  • Nora

    i love this article. i agree completely. buying something when you cant help yourself and you gasp at the computer screen upon discovering it in an online shop, and checking if your size is still available every day first thing in the morning over your musli bowl. i have pieces from 2007 that i still love and am making myself not wear too much to not wear them out. and dresses that have been in heavy rotation for the past FIVE (?! i just counted) summers, which seems crazy, but with new pieces added to the closet, i love to have my favorites stay and remind me of the good times i had wearing them. i try to only buy something when i feel like my sartorial life will not be complete without it, and when i start calculating how many dinners i have to skip in order to be able to afford it. and i also do that with sales, only if i really want to have it full price, i buy it on sale, not only because it is cheap. Slow fashion!

    • Yes! I had to learn over time to resist the urge of the sale! I have worked in retail for over 10 years, and it is so tempting when you see something go on sale. When it was full price, it was just ok… Then you see it reduced and start justifying it in your head. Big mistake! If it wasn’t exciting enough to buy at full price, you shouldn’t buy it just because it went on sale. Good for you!

  • Elements of Style

    Stocking up on high quality basics will never fail, and you make it look so fresh! It’s interesting that some designers seem to make the case for “slow fashion,” in that they often go back to their most-loved silhouettes, prints, etc.

    • Yes. Actually very few designers make basics anymore. I work in retail, and women often come in looking for a suit or a basic white shirt… There are very limited options, if any at all. It almost seems like they want the clothing to not be timeless, so that you get tired of it and want to buy something else the following month!

  • Lee Talbot

    I’ve definitely found myself gravitating towards slow fashion in my recent shopping trips. I used to be a huge impulse shopper and would purchase something on a whim without considering its lasting power in my wardrobe, only to find myself wanting to purge the item from my closet a month (sometimes even a week, oops) later. I think I used to indulge in fast fashion so much because I feared my style being considered ‘bland’ and desired being ‘in fashion’ a little too much, or I was trying to imitate someone else’s fashion sense. Now I much prefer my closet of more conscientious purchases and find them much more reflective of myself and my style than any of my impulse buys.

    • This just made me so happy. I wish everyone would reach your level of conscious shopping. It took me a while too, until I realized how terrible Fast Fashion is. Keep it up!


    I have a bit of an impulse-buying problem. Specifically, ankle boots on Amazon. because there are so many interesting styles there and usually well under $50 (including that sweet, sweet prime shipping). and i don’t need any of them. but want? ALL. I am a conscious consumer and I don’t want to buy unethically made or environmentally problematic or unkind clothing, yet when that lust for a crazy impulse piece hits, I want it as much as I want to eat an entire pot of mac and cheese when I’m drunk (on rose obvs). and that is very, very, very much.

    at the same time, I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual-type thinking and especially assessing those things that for me are addictive or hold me back from a sense of peace and good-enoughness. I think this is obviously one of them, lol.

    and yet! there was a phase where I went very minimalist and basically threw out my whole closet and only ever wore jeans and tshirts. and it was soul-crushingly boring (most people laugh at that – but I luv you guys because you get it)! I didn’t feel freer at all – in fact I felt quite stifled and missed a lot of favorite pieces. i am an artistic person with an eye and a love for things that are beautiful. there is meaning in these things that I love and am not happy if I’m not exploring it.

    so it’s such a hard line to find the balance between staying lighthearted and playing with trends and colors and shapes and trying new things and keeping yourself interested, but also not being wasteful or unmindful of what you’re doing. I think what you suggest is about as close as it gets.

    • Lua Jane

      I think in fact that Man Repeller philosophy is exactly that. Playing with trends, shapes and stuff while staying lighthearted, and simply doing what you love. That’s what’s so appealing about the site.

    • I know exactly what you mean. I have found that my style has become more and more simple over the years. I have focused on buying quality basics that I can mix and match in different ways. Then you can layer on interesting pieces in there. I have been supporting more independent designers lately, and this is making a huge difference.
      They make you think buying that fast fashion item is making you unique, but how unique is it to wear something that thousands of people have purchased around the world? :-/

  • KT41

    Yes! Love this mentality. Like the way we lived in the 70s and 80s. My grandmother, Mimi, would give my sisters and I $25 for Christmas and we’d go to Carroll Reed with our “Mimi money” (anyone remember that store?) the day after Christmas for the sale, each buy the sweater we’d been eyeing for months, and that sweater would last a few years (and I’d love it every time I put it on). I’d love to go back to a time of quality over quantity–and even better, if quality was more accessible, financially.
    On another note…love the white shirt/quality jean wardrobe idea, but the trouble with white shirts for me is no matter the quality, the pits turn yellow and into the trash they go. Any tips for that?

    • GeorgineB1

      Try changing deodorant. I switched to a product called Life Stinks and i no longer get the yellow staining.

    • Exactly! Same with white tees. Just doesn’t make sense buying expensive ones…

    • tr

      Quality can be quite accessible, financially.
      See, the great thing about staples is that they never really change. Scour thrift stores and consignment shops–there are always people begrudgingly admitting that they’ll never again be the size they were in 1995. Many things have changed since Clinton was in office, but fortunately, Brooks Brothers button downs are not one of them. Plus, many of the highest quality brands are very mid-range to begin with. In my experience, Brooks Brothers, Barbour, and Ralph Lauren are designed to last far longer with far less care than most of the “real” designers.

    • Emma

      I have the same problem and what I’m doing is — going with black t-shirts instead of white. Still classic, still goes with everything, won’t date if you do it right, won’t show stains. And if it starts to look off black in a way you don’t like, you can easily re-dye at home. I’m also finding that certain blacks look very good with my naturally dark ash blonde hair, so I look less washed out and don’t have to pay to highlight it.

  • Teresa

    I truly love this. I have been thinking about this for myself for over the last year or so. For a while I went on a bit of a mania driven spree buying close left and right. It became my lunch hour habit. It’s ended and now I am left with all of these things, and I’ve been going through them and trying to find the love connections I have with each piece. Some fall really short and I began to see the impulsiveness behind the purchase. Right now I am on a bit of a hiatus, but I still do brows and I’ve come to the conclusion if I can see myself in it 5 years from now it is worth the purchase. I loved this so much–I really get where you are coming from.

    Leandra, picture 6 looks like a man’s between your legs, girl.

    • So glad to hear that you are not shopping out of habit anymore! I used to do that too. It is very difficult to break.
      It feels great, as you start INVESTING in better pieces that you get more for your money, and don’t end up seeing your earnings literally end up in the trash!

  • ReadER451

    I just slowly stepped away from an online shopping cart full of fast-ish clothing.

    In all seriousness, this was a great post. It really resonated with me as I’ve been struggling lately with the guilt that I feel when I purchase multiple fast fashion pieces. I sometimes feel wasteful. As the middle of summer approaches and pre-fall pieces hit the shops, I will keep this article in the back of my mind when making purchases. Thank you, Leandra!

  • Kelsey Moody

    For me, rompers are the equivalent of the 2am drunk text you shouldnt send: great idea at the time, youve never felt wittier/cooler…in the cold harsh light of day, you want to throw it away (your phone/romper)

  • AlexaJuno

    I am totally wearing that white top right now.

  • My sentiments exactly. I’ve been making a conscious effort to move away from fast fashion buys and gravitate towards investment pieces instead.

  • SullivanO

    As I get older my tastes have shifted from the quick fix to the long term investment pieces. I stock up on quality basics and dress those items up with scarves and accessories. I take care of my shoes and bags each season with visits to the cobbler or handbag “spa”, I look more polished and have found a way to make items like an Hermes scarf that I previously thought stuffy or fussy look a bit more rock n roll. I try to buy one item a season that makes my heart pound but not the 12 that I used to buy. I tried adopting a uniform but found it too limiting for my love of fashion, there are some days when you want to slip into a different character or you need the armor that comes from being dressed to the nines. Nice post, a bit unexpected from a site about so much new fashion.

    • You are my hero. I wish I could say more. Everything you said brought me so much joy. Slow Fashion forever. ❤️

  • This mindset has been working really well for me recently. I used to be the poster child of impulse purchases, especially at places like Target where a 29.99 price tag seems to scream “buy it now!” But this past year I’ve been trying to decide what clothes I need and what clothes I want before hitting the stores. So instead of buying 4-5 things at target (etc) every month I’ve been buying 5-6 things in the beginning of each season that are higher quality and which I must LOVE in order to make the purchase. Its worked out really well because I’ve been enjoying wearing those clothes and don’t feel the impulse to buy things the way that I used to. Cheers to enjoying long lasting clothes!

    • Yes! Everything you just said. I love your idea about planning before going shopping. It’s kind of like when you go grocery shopping without a list. You end up with thins you didn’t need, and come home to realize you still don’t have milk!

  • crazyloverblue

    Fantastic post Leandra! I couldn’t agree more. It’s also helpful to kind of keep track of what you’re wearing to know what you actually wear, even if it’s once a year. Some people take photos others do the 33 challenge. So glad you’re behind this movement (’cause that’s sorta what it is now)!

    • Yes! This is on movement everyone should get behind!
      I have moved a lot lately, and that has helped me to be painfully honest about what I am and am not wearing regularly. Even though I thought I had already paired down my wardrobe, I realized I was still hanging on to too many things.

  • Sally Waits

    Even though fashion (and the fun of it) is selling people things they do not need, i firmly believe that there has to be a more ethical way to indulge.

    I have been thinking about the sustainability and moral and ethic implications of fashion for some time now, but that uneasy feeling I had thinking about how fast fashion is produced never really spoiled the experience of shopping for me. Until a few days ago, when I did some sale-shopping and actually felt guilty afterwards.

    First of all, I don’t want to buy fast fashion anymore because I do not want to contribute to the exploitation of the people making it. It really is as simple as that. Am I still going to shop at those stores occasionally, like, when I see a covetable piece on the runway and need the cheaper version of it right-now? Probably. But I will try to avoid them where I can in the future.

    Secondly, I simply do not want to wear clothes anymore that are dyed with cancerogenous dyes. I believe that putting these chemicals on your skin is really unhealthy (almost as bad as drinking water during meals;)), and they do not vanish completely when you wash the clothes.

    I am also simply sick of buying new clothes every season. I feel like the past years I had to experiment a lot to find my personal style, and fast fashion was great for that. But I am just so tired of all that polyester. I spent the past days researching and actually found some pretty cool labels that do fair-trade eco clothing which does not have that Muesli-vibe. But what I am most happy about is that I feel confident enough to invest, because I do now trust my own sense of style.

    • Sally,
      I am so happy to hear that you are making this effort to be a conscious shopper. I started working towards that a couple of years ago. I realized how difficult it was to really know where and how clothing was made. I have been trying to support more independent designers, so that I at least know the pieces are manufactured in ethical conditions.
      This search led me to begin an online store with my business partner. We are launching in the fall, but we already have a preview from a few of our designers on our Kickstarter campaign. We just reached our minimum goal. Please check it out, and follow us on social media. We can do the legwork for you to help you find more ethical fashion that you want to wear! 🙂

      Xx Monica

      • Sally Waits

        Awesome, this is exactly what I am searching for right now. Unfortunately, I live on the other side of the globe, but still excited to see your shop come to life in the fall!

  • Buy less wear more! Thats a really good motto to live by.

  • Mel

    Absolutely! The “buy less but better” philosophy what I’m trying to aim for, especially as I prepare to leave my 20’s. I quit H&M and F21 a while ago but am still incorrigibly impulsive when it comes to sales. Work in progress, I suppose.

    • It is definitely a process! Glad to hear you have stopped supporting those Fast Fashion retailers. Keep it up!

  • The really interesting bit of this beautiful philosophy of “Buy clothes. Not too many. Mostly basics.” lies in its mathematics, as I never tire of repeating (sorry, OK?): so you possess 20 blouses/shirts that you love, 20 pairs of absolutely necessary jeans/pants/skirts, 15 high-quality Fibre Snob cardigans and, let’s be honest, 50 pairs of shoes. No? OK, 70. And if you are Leandra, also 20 scarves (just guessing here).

    That makes for: 20 x 20 x 35 = 14.000 potential summer outfits (sans cardies and with only 35 pairs of shoes). You don’t like half of them? You are still going to dream about 7.000 possible combinations. Divide that by days in a year you can wear these items (climate as factor) and you’ll feel sartorially happy straight away. Well, I do. And I left out the scarves, like, totally. Just to allow for even more suprises …

    Winter outfits? 20 x 20 x 15 x 35 = whoping 210000, to be divided by 150 days of potential winter weather: makes for 1400 daily possible combinations. So you don’t like half of them? You know the story by now.

    (I dug up a really old h and m dress a few days ago – I hadn’t been able to decide what to do with it those 12 years or so, so I just kept it. It was perfect for a heat that required I leave my bras in their drawer)

    • I used to shop at H&M a lot. Then I found out that they have their clothes manufactured in countries with practically no safety restrictions and where the “minimum wage” doesn’t even cover a basic living wage. They claim to be “conscious”, but it’s all PR talk… I also noticed their quality has decreased drastically over the years, as they continue to move to countries with lower and lower wage restrictions. It’s just not worth it.

    • Sally Waits

      Wow. Your math made my head spin, but it is also weirdly soothing because like so many women I talk to about reducing consumption, I have this fear of “having to wear the same outfits over and over again”, which we know is total nonsense (because, lets be honest, even if we did, who would really notice?), but we somehow cannot shake. I am all for numbers and breaking it down to rational thinking and your equations are just awesomely motivating, thank you.

  • dustUP

    As a designer, the current state of short and pre seasons, means that my work is devaluated every 3 months. After only 3 months it renders old. Even if you get something of quality that is not made by anonymous underpaid factory worker, but handmade by a craftsman, it’ll become old within months.

    As a consumer, I have nothing against finding stuff I half love in Zara on sale and then putting time and effort to tailor it and customize it to my taste and needs, so I turn fast fashion into slow fashion.
    One word of advice: don’t throw away clothing in normal garbage, even taking is for recycling to H&M is much better option.

    • It’s great that you have the knowledge to alter and re-adapt these Fast Fashion pieces. I think one part that is missing is understanding why supporting these Fast Fashion chains is a problem to begin with. I recommend watching the documentary The True Cost. It is very well made, and I think it will make you even more aware of the problems in our industry.


      • dustUP

        Dear Monica, it would be a crime calling oneself fashion designer and not knowing to tailor, make patterns and sew. Just like you, I am owner & designer of small independent brand and communicating the issues mentioned above with other designers always brings us to same conclusion : that we need to do things differently in order to initiate the change and set the example.
        What I said about shopping in Zara was more ironic and in context of lack of quality and good fit, on top of everything that The True Cost reveals. Fast fashion never works, even if you do buy it you always need to customize it in order to be able to wear it at all.
        There is nothing wrong with industrialization, it is sign of progress, but in combination with exploitation it is just extremely efficient slavery. Obviously, I have seen the movie already.
        I wish you and Covey good luck, I see that your Kickstarter campaign worked out nicely!

        • I’m so happy to hear that! I wish more people in the fashion industry were aware of these issues. I would love to find out more about your independent line. Do you have a website?
          Thank you for the well-wishes! We are very excited to be able to get Covey off the ground… 🙂

          • dustUP

            People in fashion think they are so much better than bakers, for example. Nope, we are not that special.
            One of my lines is up&online, second one is coming up this autumn. I don’t really like using MR as a ground for self-promotion, don’t want to spoil this piece of internet for me, so I’ll just keep my eye on Covey and contact you myself.

  • right on!

    • I love that you sew your own clothes! That is actually why I became so passionate about sustainable fashion. I finally realized how much work goes into seeing even a simple tee shirt! It was obvious that whoever made those $5 tees at Forever 21 didn’t get paid ANYTHING for their hard work.
      I am launching an online sustainable fashion boutique in the Fall. We want to make it easier for responsible consumers to find beautiful ethical fashion. Check out our Kickstarter if you have time! We made our goal, and we still have a few days left… 🙂

  • sarahsparkle

    I agree with all of this article…. except the title and your labeling this concept “slow fashion”. I was really excited to read it, hoping that it was about the ACTUAL SLOW FASHION MOVEMENT. Which is a really REALLY important concept right now…. knowing where your clothing comes from, who’s sewing it, how many chemicals are sprayed on our crappy GMO cotton, how many gazillions of gallons of fresh water are wasted for a few t-shirts to be dyed, how the garments are being transported, etc. I love your writing, but please be a supporter and not a distractor of some of the most important issues in the fashion industry today.

    • Sarah, I am glad that you are so passionate about the Slow Fashion Movement! I agree that it needs more attention because it is such a serious problem. I think the documentary The True Cost is helping to bring awareness.

      I am actually launching an online store for sustainable fashion, which will launch in the Fall. We just reached our Kickstarter goal to fund our website, and we still have a few days to go. I would love for you to check it out, and follow us on social media! We are trying to build a community of people who care about this! 🙂


  • c.Miller

    you look amazing in those jeans

  • YES LEANDRA. You bossed it.

  • Debra
  • sifsgoldwig

    Speaking as someone with a retail job and no money, this is the foremost challenge of building a wardrobe. The Venn diagram of what I can afford vs what’s quality resembles a lunar eclipse. On the one hand, it’s a good thing because it forces you to be resourceful and creative. On the other hand, it sucks. And when I think of my hard won and carefully thrifted Ferragamos and Marc Jacobs bag next to some women’s closets full of couture, it makes me want to incite a peasant revolt.

    • I know it’s difficult to save money for investment pieces. Especially when there are so many Fast Fashion retailers trying to seduce you into wasting your hard earned money on poorly made items. Just keep in mind that it is worth the wait! Start with basics that you know you will won’t grow tired of. You can do it! 🙂

  • Sujie Kim

    I feel like I’ve been trying to apply this to closet cleaning procedures. There are about a dozen things in my closet that I’ve only ever worn once. ONCE. But I’m terrified I’m going to need it in the near future. Basically I need to stop buying random artisanal vegetables, and just buy pasta right?

    • sifsgoldwig

      I’m secretly terrified that the whole “if you haven’t worn it in two years, get rid of it” rule is total bull because I’ve had several instances of letting clothes languish at the bottom of a drawer for YEARS only to unearth them and have them be my style jam. But if that oft repeated style rule is invalid, it means we live in a world of chaos and I’m not sure I can deal with that.

  • claudine nguyen

    To shop slow fashion, this documentary is definitely helping. Slow fashion is about being both stylish and smart.

    It’s been 10 years I’m sick of compulsive purchases, until I learned to care about my emotions and be more mindful, and now compulsive purchase is almost an old souvenir. I got rid of 70% of my closet, and I feel much better, lighter, freer and happier.

    I’m now a coach if mindful style and slow fashion 🙂

    I’m French and I’ll be coming to NY in August 🙂 And I would love love to see you.


    • Watched that True Cost documentary last night and learned even more than I had in Lucy Siegle’s book on the same topic. SUCH a worthy $3 Amazon rental. I had no idea that, after oil/gas, fashion is the top polluting industry in the world, and one in six people in the world work in fashion. Yeesh!

      • claudine nguyen

        Right this industry is enormous. And that means we consumers give it its power so we can change it.
        Definitely being fashion is out of style and conscious.
        But we can still love clothes and be stylish with a conscious.
        Who’s up to be both stylish and smart ?

      • I am so glad that you watched the documentary! It is really eye-opening, right? I used to shop way too much. I started changing my habits after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse. It is actually pretty difficult to be a responsible shopper, because it is not always easy to tell where and how clothing is made.

        My business partner and I are launching an online boutique for ethical fashion in the Fall. We have reached our Kickstarter goal to fund our website, and we still have a few days left. I would love for you to check it out and follow us on social media! We can do the legwork for you and find you great ethical fashion that you WANT to wear! 😉


      • Sally Waits

        Yes, and what about that “every 30 seconds a cotton farmer commits suicide”. I still cannot get over that number. Thank you for mentioning the book, have to check that out.

        • And the Texas brain cancer increases – it’s all so insane. Another favorite read of mine is “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster”. Such a great look into the decline of quality in fashion.

          • Sally Waits

            Thank you 🙂 Went straight to my reading list!

    • Thank you for this post! I agree. That documentary is really helping to bring awareness to this problem.

      Please take a moment to check out our campaign for an online sustainable fashion boutique. We are launching this Fall!

  • A lifetime fashion-phile, I ruthlessly edited my wardrobe down to 35 – 40 seasonal pieces (from hundreds) this March. Now I only own and wear quality clothes that I love and look great wearing and my creativity is off the hizzy. You, Leandra, are a brilliant writer, above and beyond your myriad of talents. Since I discovered your our blog in 2010, your prose has gnawed at me to write. This minimalist fashion project was the impetus that finally made me get after it. Thank you, muse, for validating that style is not dictated by the trend cycle.

    • Love that you are being a more conscious shopper! 🙂

  • AKH

    I completely agree! So often we have a ‘one and done’ attitude towards our clothing, especially when it’s cheap. Whether we decide to spend on better quality and buy less, or just be more mindful of what we buy, it’s really important not to have ‘one night stands’ with our clothing. I talk about my experience and struggle with this here:

    • Totally agree! Love the analogy!

      Please check out our campaign. We are launching an online boutique for ethical fashion in the Fall. We reached our goal and have a few days left! Would love for you to share and/or follow us on social media. 🙂


  • I like the term “slow fashion” I never thought of it that way, but I have always preferred quality to quantity, though it may be a little more expensive to buy high quality clothes, but in the long run, it will pay off because of they durability

    • Love your way of thinking! Please check out our campaign. We want to make it easier for conscious shoppers to find beautiful ethical fashion!

  • Rathna Sharad

    This is so close to my heart, we follow this philosophy at I have been personally trying to implement this for every single purchase over the years — it’s hard as I do. But quality over quantity matters.

  • Claire

    truly wonderful post! with the crazy rise of fast fashion it can be so easy to spend all your shopping money on crappy in style items that won’t last, and that can be good at times. but, like you said, i think it’s also so important to invest in quality, key pieces that represent your style!

    • Please check out our campaign to promote ethical fashion!

  • This is why I sew all my own clothes dude, including shirts and jeans. I couldn’t bear that sick-to-my-stomach feeling I got every time I realized something in my closet was so worthless it might as well go in the garbage. Slow fashion = sew fashion.

    • Love that you sew your own clothes! That’s how I became so passionate about slow fashion, learning how much work goes into it!
      Please check out our campaign to promote independent designers and ethical fashion! We want to build a community of people who care about Slow Fashion. 🙂


    • Sally Waits

      Getting a sewing machine is next on my list. I am in so much awe for people who are able to make their own clothes. And shirts and jeans, that’s some magical sewing wizard level.

    • rdrdrdop1

      I’ve been thinking about it myself honestly as well. Like personally I love high fashion brands but I honestly cannot spend enough as I would love to on it. I’ve checked fabric sites that will mail you samples and was surprised at the quality. The sewing part is my only setback.

  • I was about to scour the web for cheapie basics (long sleeved basic tees in black & white, white shirt, white socks) when I read this – because I had worn out my last set of cheapie basics. I don’t know how long I’ll hold out, but I will try really hard to hunt for quality even if it means spreading them out over 3 paychecks instead of getting all of them with one. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Hi!
      There are already some better options for basics that are more ethical and will last longer (for example It’s a better use of your hard earned money!
      We are launching an online boutique in the fall to promote independent designers and ethical fashion. Check out our campaign and follow us on social media!


      • Not all that practical for me – I don’t live in the US. But we have some great local labels based in Cape Town that I buy from regularly. 🙂

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    This is where I’ve been heading with my style for the last few months. I’m thinking less and less about the items that are super cute and trendy and more about the items that I know I will reach for again and again.

    • Love your way of thinking! You are definitely on the right track.
      Please check out our campaign to promote ethical fashion! We are launching in the Fall!

  • Dear Leandra,
    As a big fan of your work and an avid defender of slow fashion, I would like to THANK YOU VERY MUCH for giving slow fashion a space on Man Repeller. It doesn’t happen often that influential people like yourself promote slow fashion, so it’s really great to see that you do.
    Two years ago I’ve started a blog about sustainable fashion in Spain (in English/Spanish), and often felt quite discouraged by the lack of interest people had for this subject. I felt very inspired by an interview you gave a while back, where you said that if you worked hard enough as a blogger you’d make it. Simple but effective advice that really stuck with me and one of the things that helped me in persisting. Although it’s still a rather humble affair, I’ve managed to meet so many interesting people with really exciting projects, some of which I even got involved in, which has been life-changing. THANK YOU VERY MUCH for having inspired and reassured me for the second time now in perusing my project!
    All the best from Berlin Fashion Week <3

    • Sabina,
      I am so glad to see your comment. I love finding people who care about sustainable fashion. I would love for you to check out our page and follow us on social media.
      We are building an online store to promote ethical fashion! We are launching in the Fall!

  • Connie
  • Thank you so much for writing this! You are such an influential person in fashion, and people need to start thinking about how terrible Fast Fashion is for the environment and for the people who are making the clothes, risking their lives in unsafe working conditions.
    I am starting an ethical online boutique for men and women, with my co-founder Sarah. I am happy to share that we have reached our minimum Kickstarter Goal to fund our website. We still have a few days to go, so any Slow Fashion supporters, please share or contribute if you can! 🙂

  • Yes! I think that is huge. As you get to really know YOUR style, you can invest in better pieces because you know you will wear them for a long time and not get tired of them! So true.

  • You are totally right. Spending more on clothing doesn’t automatically mean it is made that much better nowadays. Some designers are making their clothes in the same factories as Walmart and H&M!
    I just read an article that said some of these are moving to Africa now because they aren’t willing to pay workers in Bangladesh $68 A MONTH after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse. It’s disgusting! (Article:

    We are launching an online store for ethical fashion, to make it easier to shop responsibly. We just reached our funding goal to build our site. Our store will launch in the fall. Please check it out! 😉

  • This is so great!!! I am going to share it on our Facebook page. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Susan
  • Marget
  • CaliforniaGal

    Yes, yes, yes! Love what you’re wearing in the pics, too! A white button-down, jeans and heels are my staples!!! 🙂

  • Slow fashion is the way to go. Quality rather than quantity is what a lot of people prefer after going through the recession. Within a few washes clothes become tired or mishapen (regardless of what care you take) whereas quality stands the test of time.

    I find the same applies from shoes, to lingerie or even jewellery. The ones left in your wardrobe will almost always be the more expensive ones – albeit some bought in a cheeky sale.

  • I love this! I’d never thought of comparing produce and clothing, but it’s spot on! 🙂 Lisa

  • rdrdrdop1

    YAS! I used to be such a big shopper but I’ve seriously slowed down. Like honestly you don’t need many useless clothes but enough that you love.

    Cover your basics first, then go into fun prints and one-off items.

  • Eva Skewes

    I’ve been trying really hard over the past year or so to only buy things I love. Often times this means they’re more expensive (like my shirts from Tradlands which I adore and almost always cheer me up when I put them on) but it also means I buy less often because I’m being much more selective and thinking long term (will I love this next month? next year? in ten?).

    And though you think being so careful and cognizant would make my purchases seem boring, I’m actually much more excited about each. When you have more time to think about what you want to put on your body, I think you become less complacent – the possibilities are so much more alive. The time spent imagining how a particular item might work into a wardrobe is everything to me and I’ve never felt more like “me” with these more thoughtful purchases.

  • steffie g

    This is gorgeous! Thank you for writing about this.
    In the last few years I have stopped buying the “fast fashion” because I felt uncomfortable supporting the slave labor market.
    It has been so rewarding and the things I have purchased I love and have meaning because I had to seek then out!
    No more impulse shopping! Here’s to a more conscious consumerism!
    And while you are at it, think about plastic consumption and where that goes when you are through with it, having only been used for an our or so
    (using a bottle of water as an example.)

    • I agree!
      That’s one thing I really love about living in San Francisco now; there are recycling and compost bins almost everywhere.
      I’m so glad to hear you are also trying to shop consciously. As you said, it feels great and makes your pieces more special and meaningful. I recently launched to help promote beautiful ethical brands. Please check it out and follow us on Facebook/ Instagram! 😉

  • phlox

    I just have one rule now: When you’re trying it on in the changing room, do you want to wear it out of the store? Like, RIGHT NOW? That usually answers the question as to whether it comes home with me.

  • Maria Parker
  • Judi

    Funny, funny… I just realized that the last time I did any clothes shopping, last week, via catalog, was for shirts. T-shirts I wear all year long because I get hot easily. I got 6 of the same kind in different colors. I HATE clothes shopping!

  • Selina Moses

    Slow fashion all the way

    • Yessss. Hope soon more and more people will get on board. #EthicalistheNewBlack 😉

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    Going through the article, the readers can make out that it is a well researched article with great points. The writing skill of the author is also commendable it! I have read the article with great attention. college paper writing service

  • I have been thinking more and more about this. Also, recently saw this John Oliver video about the Bangladesh disaster. It definitely makes you think. However, the main issue I have is I do want to stop with the really cheapie high street brands but do the slightly better ones really give more quality? I have found the answer to be a no. So what do we do?

    • Hi!
      Great question. I can’t speak for all brands, but especially when you are buying from independent designers who produce in the United States, the quality of fabrics and thread is higher, and usually overall construction quality. Our site has a curated collection of brands who care about design, craftsmanship, and sustainability. Please check it out!

  • Agree, build a sustainable wardrobe. Find your style and leave trends for *cough*cough* basic bitches.

  • This post is so on point! I’ve just recently written my own post on creating a minimalist wardrobe ( and am soon doing a series on buying quality pieces. I think it is so important these days to be aware of what we are buying because it affects so much more than just us.

    • Love this!
      I shared it on our Twitter and Facebook pages. 🙂

  • Katie

    Invest in quality and a timeless wardrobe.

  • Amanda White
  • I can’t believe how painfully hard it’s been to clear out all the fast-fashion mistakes I’ve made over the past decade. It’s hard to admit I just don’t/won’t love them and they were a colossal waste of money. My perennial favorite will probably never change: white shirts and whatever jeans look best on me at the moment, plus great sandals.

  • Beth Pliner

    “Buy less wear more ” I think this is what I never gonna follow. I do agree with the things you shared but not all. I love to shop and can’t buy less as well.

  • Anon

    Love love love this! What size is this bandana and how do you usually tie them?

  • Orleans + Winder

    Yes! YES! This is the whole concept of our store here in Detroit. It is so important to give a platform to designers that are creating beautiful, sustainable pieces!

  • Thanks for sharing this! I recently just cleaned out my closet, and I find out that there are a lot of clothes that I don’t even wear anymore, or they are just plain bad quality, most are impulse purchases 🙁 Downsizing your wardrobe and buying stuff that I only need (and of good quality) has made my life a lot lighter. It’s surprising how many outfits I can come up with, even with a smaller wardrobe haha 🙂

    • I agree! I have been on a mission to shop more consciously for a few years now (which eventually led me to launching Now I am living in San Francisco (zero storage space) and I am so glad that I transitioned to more classic, higher quality pieces when I did. I was actually spending so much more on clothing by buying cheap, trendy things before!

      Check out our site for more ethical options. We just marked down some great pieces! 🙂

  • Janina

    Thank you Leandra!!! I just discovered your article and I am so happy that I did!
    Hope you will inspire a lot of fashion victims! This really ecourages me that change in the fashion industry is possible!

  • Love it, definitely an inspiring piece on how to redefine our closets.

  • Rebecca Zammito

    Definitely a bit behind of the commenting side of things but I agree wholeheartedly with this post and am constantly trying to remind myself to buy things that I love regardless of what’s “trend right” at the moment. Just bought a pair of Miu Mius on consignment this last weekend and I cannot even describe the level of satisfaction I experienced from buying something worthwhile that screamed at me because they were me! Love how you’re encouraging women to stop buying “meh..” clothing and start buying pieces that they wear often and feel like a unstoppable in 🙂

  • Jymmy

    Nice post, thanks

  • So glad you reposted this! You should all check out for beautiful Slow Fashion!

  • Lux-a-Porter

    When buying pre-loved luxury items one combines the chance of buying high quality with the chance of contribuiting to the Planet by recycling.

    Online Shop:
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  • Omg, this is so true! It makes perfect sense. Every word!

    Love, Marie Roget

  • Yes! Gotta love the focus on sustainable fashion instead of fast fashion! Great post!


  • Martine

    Not sure why this fits here, but for me it does. I seem to be relying more on vintage, and less on Top shop and such all the time. I can’t say I look that different, but I am finding the quality and craftsmanship I like more in things that were made in the past, and they seem to oddly be things I never tire of wearing. Does that make sense? Not really, but there it is.

  • Лалка Лал

    Only professional experts and quality service !

  • Ji Shin

    YES!!! Man Repeller (and every other fashion site) needs to talk about the destruction of the planet by the fashion industry. The fashion industry is the SECOND worst polluting/unsustainable industry in the WORLD! Just behind the OIL industry! Very bad company…. Im a fashion lover! I love clothes, shoes, jewelry, all of it. But now, knowing how these $45 dresses and $250 leather pants get made…. never again! We can’t ever really know where and how all clothes are made but, Zara, H&M, Target, Mango, Gap… it makes sense if we take a minute to think about it. How cheap does a t-shirt have to be, to be a good deal?
    Looking forward to more on this topic!!

  • jenoneriver

    YES! When I was in high school 10 years ago, yikes, I used to only shop thrift. My mom hated it, but I found it was my style. In college, stores like H&M and forever became the only places I could really shop at in Wisconsin, but when I returned to California, I started to get back into thrift shopping and slowly started to realize that all of the pieces I bought from a different era were still sturdy and lasting me a long time. Meanwhile, all of the fast fashion was torn and just like you described it. It depressed me, but also awoke me to looking into the WHY, which is so important! Let’s think about what the TRUE COST of fast fashion is doing both to our own pockets, but more importantly, to the lives under which many around the world are living in in order to make the clothes we buy so cheaply.

  • MK

    Great article – I do have a question though as I have been thinking about this a lot lately. How can I buy quality clothing online/offline without being super familiar with the brand? I often find that my $200 shirt will last just as long as a $30 shirt. Therefore, I have found that when I think I am purchasing something of higher quality that will last longer, it is more than likely not the case. A lot of independent, more expensive designers are not actually offering higher quality/longer lasting items, they are just selling them at a higher price point due to the labor involved (I assume!). I think this is all well and good and is a great thing to support, but any suggestions on higher quality brands that will last? I’d love to find some new options for work (I stick to a uni) and I love the concept of MM Lafleur for work, but there just isn’t enough for me yet. Help if you guys have any suggestions! Thank you.

  • Angela Nj.

    This is what I’ve been preaching to my friends!! I always come back to this article. Spoke to me on a different level <3

  • Madge Willis-Novel

    Impulse purchases almost always end up mistakes – We all know what we really like and realistically what our style is – so, don’t impulse buy, it’s just a waste of your good money.

  • how good does that feel ?

    • I know it doesn’t sound novel — but that’s because it’s not. And yes, duh, I know that a splurge can mean $300 for one person, $15 for another. I also know that the culture we have helped to cultivate is one that acts impulsively, that galvanizes the “treat yo’self!” mentality, but we can break that pattern.

  • You articulated every thought that I have had, those thoughts leading me to ‘slow fashion’. Ever addicted to clothing, I have found that paying more for clothing and searching for non fast fashion clothing has made my closet a very curated love nest.

  • Eva Lu

    I’m a little late to the party on this article but I still feel compelled to comment. I’ve noticed a benefit of trying to keep my wardrobe that is more carefully selected but really loved is that I actually get more creative with my outfits. It sounds crazy (surely more choice = more options = better sartorial choices).

    With a slow fashion mindset, I focus more on how items are combined and finished (sleeve folds, accessories, how to prop my collar etc). I also am forced to match items I’d ordinarily never consider wearing together but actually work well or in an interesting way. It’s quite eye opening. It’s like each item of clothing obtains more depth and more possibility.

  • Ana Tavares

    I was never a shopaholic but I would have a random fast-fashion spree every now and then. Fortunately, my mom was also a great role model: she always preferred quality over quantity and never looked boring. But for me the impulse buying only stopped when I broke up with my boyfriend of seven years and moved back to my hometown. Having to physically pack and carry all of my belongings made me realize how much stuff I had. I had never thought about it, I had never seen all of my possessions sprawled in front of me and it made me think how much stuff do we really need to be happy. I didn’t need or had an emotional attachment to most of those things. I ended up giving a bunch of bags filled with books, CDs and clothes to charity. Downsizing from a two-bedroom flat to a studio also helped – there is no room and it forces me to edit.

  • Yes thank you for saying this! One of my resolutions last year was to buy fewer, better pieces. It’s so important for us to start embracing slower fashion. Would love to hear your thoughts on the environmental, economic, and social impact of this too!

  • Martine

    I don’t think you get it. Its not about sustainable, really. Its about not buying more clothing every month, and making do with the perfectly serviceable stuff you already have.

  • Martine

    I definitely believe in this.