Why I quit fast fashion

For the last four years, I have been working on this blog and on my Instagram sharing different outfits inspiration. I have always loved putting looks together and when I moved from Brazil to NYC I decided to create this blog as an outlet to my creativity and personal style inspiration.

Before the #ootd hashtag was a thing, I remember being a young teenager putting outfits together in my head whenever I was bored. So when I moved to the US and was able to afford to buy clothes because they were insanely cheaper here I started photographing them and sharing on the internet.

I remember the first time I went to the Forever 21 store in Times Square. Now, after being a “New Yorker” for almost six years I cringe anytime I hear the words Times Square, but back then that place felt like an amusement park for me. Each new floor (there are four in total) reveled more beautiful and trendy clothes and I could not believe the numbers I saw on the price tag. Everything so cheap! I thought that was happiness.

 I remember after that hearing about the negative impacts of fast fashion on the environment and the mistreatment of garment workers, but I was so caught up in the “amazing life” in which I could afford clothes that it made me shut my eyes to the awful reality behind the stores where I was shopping from.

Last year my life completely changed. I was recovering from a heartbreak that not only broke my heart but also the life that I had planned and dreamed of. It made me put everything in perspective and think critically about the things that I value in my life. I also had to move out of the place I was living and I was shocked by the number of clothes I owned. Moving out was so hard for me emotionally and the insane amount of clothes I had made it more difficult. I felt heavy, like if I was stuck in that place with those clothes.

 Going through the clothes I realized how little sentiment I had for them and how those cheap clothes were either looking bad because of their poor quality or outdated because they were a trendy piece. When I arrived at my new temporary place (thank God for friends) I packed 60% of my clothes in bags and donated them right away. At the time I just wanted to feel lighter and free to move to wherever I wanted.

Then I watched the “True Cost” documentary and that was when everything really changed for me. I realized how the environmental and social issues attached to the fashion industry is much worse than I thought. Since then I have not been able to shop at fast fashion stores anymore.

 It was almost like my heart was breaking again. I realized that I was living a life so surrounded around looking good that I didn’t care about how my clothes were made and who made them. The cheap $10 that I was paying for a top was an investment in a company that is exploiting their workers, polluting our planet, killing ecosystems while their CEOs become billionaires. All I wanted to do was to quit working in the industry. Quit what I was doing.

 However, we can’t just take the number one sustainable option which is being naked (source: Reformation) to live or lives. No matter what, we need clothes. So I decided that instead of trying to quit fashion I was still going to follow my passion but do it in a different way. Call it ethical, conscious, sustainable, green, or whatever you want to call. I am now aware of the impact of my consumerism in our nature and people and want to take a different route. I am still going to look good, create my outfits, share them with you, but now in a way that is less harmful to our earth. I am still learning, but I am so excited for this new chapter. I think together we can build an industry that creates fashion without hurting the environment and create decent working opportunities for people.

 “If the fashion industry has the power to influence trends, then it also has the power to play a positive role in protecting the planet.” 


Raquel Paiva

Brazilian fashion and lifestyle blogger based in NYC