Second Hand Fashion vs Upcycling Fashion vs Fair Fashion – What is Best?

Fair Fashion is wonderful right!? But what about the ressources spend on producing the new items? Isn’t upcycling so much better then? But even there; ressources are being used to wash and work on the old fabrics… so isn’t second hand clothing the only really sustainble option out there?

These are a few of the questions I would like to discuss in today’s post!

And allow me to anticipate one thing: all three options are GREAT! And all three options will help making this planet a better place and stop exploration of nature and humans!

I hope you enjoy this post and maybe get some inspiration out of it. If so, make sure to let me know in the comments, in an email, or through instagram or facebook!

Second Hand Fashion

When buying second hand fashion no new ressources are being used at all – there is a piece of clothes being produced somewhere in the world, sold then somewhere in another part of the world, and finally worn by someone. After a while, maybe a year, maybe ten years, that person is getting tired of the piece and decides to hand it down to someone else. The new owner is happy about having found something new to wear.

This is awesome! Buying second hand is always a great option and especially for everyone on a budget, this is the best way to live a greener and more sustainable lifestyle without spending a fortune on new clothes.

Still, there are two things I want to point out to:

1. because something is cheap doesn’t mean that you should treat it that way!

What I mean with this is that even if you buy that blouse for 1$ you should still take as good care of it as you would have when spending 100$. Taking good care of our clothes is one of the most important things to do overall to make sure they last long. I often see people buying second hand clothes en masse and they then have a closet filled with clothes they do not really care about that much. So even when buying second hand, make sure to remember that quality comes before quantity.

And this brings me to the second point:

2. Always rely on natural fabrics

When you go to an average second hand shop you will find looooads of pieces made from polyester. They are cheap, they look pretty, you can easily get tempted to buy them. However – please keep in mind that polyester fabrics are leading microplastic into our ground waters! So try to avoid polyester whereever you can. Not only do natural materials feel so much better on your skin, but you will also do better for the environment when sticking to them.

Upcycling Fashion/ Cradle to Cradle

Upcycling already existing pieces of fabric, no matter if dress or curtain, is another wonderful and sustainable way of producing clothes. What upcycling labels are doing is that they are buying e.g. jeans from e.g. a charity organisation that has tons of them and they then wash and prepare them to make something new out of it. I actually posted an interview with an upcycling label the other day, feel free to check that out for more information!

This concept is awesome on a small scale, however, for everyone who wants to produce on a larger scale it does not work – it simply is not possible to create more than one new piece out of an old jeans and every other piece made from another jeans will look slightly different. You cannot actually make an entire collection of upcycled pieces from old curtains – except for that you really find that many exact same old curtains somehwere 😀

So upcyling works great for small labels and I think it is absolutely worth to support them as much as possible! They are not only not using new ressources in what they are doing but they are actually taking waste out of the system: yes, many of those jeans would go to waste otherwise, because there are not enough people who are eager to buy second hand items – so tons and tons of clothes are going to waste every year.

Saving those from the land fills and making new pieces of them is just wonderful!

Fair Fashion

Now when thinking about how sustainable second hand fashion and upcycling fashion is – would’nt it be easy to argue that fair fashion is NOT that sustainable after all? I mean new ressources need to be used – cotton needs to be grown, fabrics need to be dyed, cut, sewed … is that sustainable at all?

I would say yes it is! Why? Because with every conventional cotton farmer out there, let’s say in India, that is transitioning to organic farming because a fair fashion label guarantees him to buy his organic cotton for a reasonable price – LOADS is won for this world!

With every single acre that is transitiong from conventional farming to organic farming there is a chance for this world to heal: there is a chance for bees and other insects to come back to that region, there is a chance for birds to come back to that region, there is a change for a variety of plants and flowers coming back to that region.

I am not in a position where I can judge if overall it is healthier for our planet to buy second hand or to support organic cotton farmers by buying newly produced fair fashion items, but I know for sure that it is worth supporting those who are supporting organic cotton farming all over the world!

And now that this is said I want to point out to my outfit here that – of course- is all natural and fair 😀

My blouse here is made from Tencel and is from the current fall collection from Laura Deerberg and my jeans are made from organic cotton from the wonderful label DAWN Denim.

My boots here however, they are six or seven years old and they are actually an old fast fashion purchase. I take them to the shoe maker once a year and he fixes them again and again. I love it when things last forever, especially with timeless pieces like these boots.

Have you been transitioning your wardrobe into fall yet? Here it is getting slow- -this week we have temperatues around 23°C so it rather feels like late summer than fall. I don’t mind it too much to be honest 😀


This blog post contains names of/pictures of/weblinks to brands and hence, is perceived advertisement. I was not paid for the post and all opinion is my own.


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4 Kommentare

  1. Oktober 10, 2018 / 3:53 pm

    Hach ja, wenn ich mich mit meiner Größe doch nur leichter täte beim Second Hand Shopping… 😉

    • Oktober 29, 2018 / 5:00 pm

      Da kommt demnächst ein Blog-Post der dir da vielleicht hilfreich sein könnte 😉

  2. Oktober 11, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I love second hand – nothing better than really well made 1960s clothes… I’ve even salvaged my grandma’s dresses and I used to be a very faithful charity shop customer. It’s been harder since I got fat and returned to Berlin where good charity shop stuff is harder to come by. You are so right about natural materials in a good quality. Especially linen! Will last forever!

    • Oktober 29, 2018 / 5:01 pm

      SO true! And yes, it is harder in Germany compared to the UK. However, there will be another blogpost coming soon showing that second shop shopping can be really easy as well.. wait for it 😉