Is ethical influencing the answer to both our environmental and social media concerns?

Viral documentary, The True Cost, highlights that 80 billion new garments are purchased every year worldwide, putting an eye-watering figure to the all too familiar notion of having everything in our wardrobes, but nothing to wear.

However, fast fashion’s grip on us seems to be loosening, as research by fashion search engine Lyst report internet searches for sustainable fashion have increased by 66% in the past year. Indeed, #thrifted has been tagged on Instagram outfit posts over 1.7 million time.

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Proudly wearing my OLD clothes🙌🏼⁣ ⁣ I had a little chat on my stories today talking about how I sometimes feel like i subconsciously don’t post outfit pictures to my instagram feed that are made up from fast fashion brands from when I still bought new. ⁣ ⁣ I have clothes in my wardrobe that I still LOVE wearing and do wear often (especially for work, like today’s outfit!) however for some reason I don’t post these outfits on my Instagram! These clothes from fast fashion brands are a reminder of the consumer that I once used to be. just because I am choosing second hand now is not an excuse to throw/donate any clothes I love just because they’re not second hand. LOVE THE CLOTHES YOU HAVE!🌸👗⁣ ⁣ I’ve had so many wonderful messages today in response to my stories and I think this reason might be because I want to try and promote second outfits!! Alongside this I am a STRONG believer in wearing old clothes! ⁣ ⁣ Therefore I am going to start posting my OLD clothing outfits more to try and promote wearing what you own more!💪🏼 ⁣ ⁣ @venetiafalconer has a fantastic hashtag #oootd (old outfit of the day) taking a spin on the well known #ootd where you can share your lovely old outfits!❤️

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I’ve been a sucker for second-hand since I was little, inspired by my grandfather who famously thrifted multiple keyboards in his lifetime, despite not being able to play. Fast forward to now, I’d estimate that my wardrobe is around 70% charity shopped – a cashmere coat, RRP £300 jeans, a vintage Coach handbag and Chloe playsuit included in that.

But for those who didn’t inherit the thrifting gene, and want to be more conscious of their ethical and environmental footprints, a community of Instagram “thrift-fluencers” have emerged. Far from the TeaTox flogging, Boohoo glad figures we are used to on our timelines, these accounts are the kind who call out fast fashion retailers instead of being sponsored by them.

But this isn’t just KonMari inspired minimalism, it’s about making active choices to shop less, and if you do, choose consciously. “Protest with the power of where you spend your money”, is Jade and her community’s rallying cry. Not only are they changing the way we shop, but the way we think about how influencer power can be used more positively. When @evagoesthrifting hit 2,000 followers she celebrated with a different kind of giveaway: a personalised “thrift box” full of charity shopped goodies in the winner’s size and style. “I wanted to prove that you can get amazing clothes second-hand” she explains. “Most giveaways promote new clothes or products and I wanted to stay away from that. But I couldn’t believe how many people were interested in it.”

This new breed of influencers do more than look on trend in their second-hand wares, they’ve created a solid community committed to doing the same. “I’d tried to give up fast fashion on my own and I couldn’t do it,” Jade says, but when she turned to Instagram she found a thriving community with people talking about the benefits of secondhand.

Never one to fall for a Pretty Little Thing discount code, to my surprise I’ve found myself truly under their influence. They post a charity shop haul, I immediately want to go out rummaging myself. For me, it’s reaffirming what I already know: that shopping second-hand is what’s best for the environment and, happily, our wallets. But for others, they’re inspiring a first foray into a much slower – and I would argue rewarding – approach to fashion.

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