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17 Mar 2021

Avoiding Fast Fashion in Hong Kong on a Small(ish) Budget

Chatteris’ own Molly Christie talks us through how we can reduce our fashion footprint in this shopper’s paradise.

If you’re anything like me, your first job that requires smart clothes will be with Chatteris. All my previous jobs let me wear jeans and a t-shirt, so I arrived in Hong Kong with one pair of trousers and a handful of shirts. I wore the trousers twice before deciding that, actually, long trousers and 30℃ heat were not a good match, and I would not be wearing them again until winter. This meant I needed a new wardrobe on a teeny, tiny budget.

Desperate, I headed to Mong Kok to look in the Ladies’ Market and the $50 stores that surround it. While I did get what I needed, the quality wasn’t great and I felt very uncomfortable about buying so much from fast fashion outlets.

Fast fashion is the second biggest cause of pollution in the world (the first is oil), and it can be hard to avoid in Hong Kong. However, it is possible – here is a list of the best ways to avoid the fast fashion industry in the region. 

To shop…or to stop?

Infographic explaining some facts related to fast fashion

Put simply, the most effective way to avoid fast fashion is by not buying any clothes. There’s a high chance you don’t really need that new pair of jeans, or a new shirt. My Happy Footprint has written about the best ways to stop buying clothes. They argue that by identifying why you buy clothes so often is the easiest way to break the habit. However, sometimes buying new clothes is unavoidable if your clothes cannot be repaired or if you need something for a special occasion. 

If you really do need new clothes, your next best option is buying second-hand. There are thrift shops all across Hong Kong, but a personal favourite is a chain called Mee & Gee, with various locations in the region. Each shop overflows onto the street with clothes and the racks are filled to burst. The racks are organised by type of clothing– t-shirts, dresses, jeans etc. If you’re patient, they have some real hidden gems, like old designer clothes for less than $100. Most clothes are in Korean or Japanese sizes, so if you’re a UK size 10-12 like me even the larger sizes of these brands can feel snug. However, there are often UK or US brands in there too if you take the time to look. 

If you’re looking for something more specific and have a bit more of a budget, it’s worth checking out one of Hong Kong’s sustainable clothing brands. These are brands that are making an effort to reduce the harm caused by the fashion industry by sourcing their fabrics from sustainable sources and taking zero-waste approaches to manufacturing. While these brands are obviously more expensive than their fast fashion counterparts, if you’re able to, it’s worth investing in something that is more environmentally friendly and will last for years. 

Donating and recycling

If you have old clothes that you can’t wear anymore, you can donate them or recycle them in several places around Hong Kong. Sassy has a list of charities and NGOs that accept old clothing, including Green Dot, Mother’s Choice and Po Leung Kuk Orphanage. There are also clothing recycling bins around Hong Kong, similar to the plastic bottle/paper/metal recycling bins. These bins are managed by local NGOs and district councils, and the clothes are donated directly to people in need, or sold in charity shops (with the profits then going to help disadvantaged Hong Kong residents).  

There are loads of ways to avoid fast fashion in Hong Kong, from searching through second hand shops to buying essentials from sustainable brands. There are also plenty of places you can donate old clothes if you don’t wear them anymore. I hope this post will help you to use fast fashion a little less!

Keen to explore an eco-friendly lifestyle in Hong Kong like Molly? Apply now to become a Chatteris Tutor.

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