Merry Christmas, Please Stop Buying Cheap Clothing That Falls Apart

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About ten years ago or so, I discovered an amazing thing. There were like these stores with the most cutting edge, trendy fashions…for super-cheap! Like: leggings for three dollars. A blouse that looks just like the one featured in Vogue for like 14 bucks. Jeans for $20. Etc.

And these stores weren’t even those cheesy ones everybody has in their neighborhood, the ones you might feel embarrassed to walk into. No, these stores were in the middle of the City and were “cool” and had names like H&M and Forever 21.

So: you’d just buy a bunch of trendy clothes each season, and promptly get rid of most of them when they inevitably fell apart and/or were suddenly out of style. My seasonal piles to the Goodwill and other donation spots noticeably bulked up. But it was all OK—because I didn’t spend a lot of money on them anyway (in fact…I was probably SAVING money!), and now this really hip clothing was moving on to brighten the lives of the unfortunate.

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But no, according to this Motherboard article, apparently most of this cheap awesome fashion are ending up in the trash and beloved by nobody—with about 84 percent of used clothes destined for the landfill or incinerators. And since much of this “fast fashion” is made from synthetic fibers, they have a devil of a time biodegrading.

Another fact—much of the used clothing ends up not in the U.S., but in the secondary market overseas in places like Africa. Only…now countries like Kenya and Uganda want to ban the second-hand imported clothes, in order to boost their own textile businesses.

So increasingly: nobody seems to want our discarded cheap fashions.

One of the solutions here is to try to buy better quality clothing, preferably as non-synthetic as possible. Double-bonus: purchase more or less “timeless,” classic styles.

Which brings me to Wes Anderson’s charming short advertisement holiday film for H&M. One would think that Anderson fans would be much more into classic, durable, timeless (perhaps even a little retro) clothing. So I’m really trying to draw the connecting line between the film—whose tagline is “come together” and shows a train staff improvising a Christmas celebration for a diverse group of stranded passengers—and the fact that a lot of “fast fashion” such as found in H&M are ironically going to stick around this planet for a long, long time.

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Maybe it’s all an extended metaphor for Adrien Brody’s career. I don’t know.