Guide to Conscious and Ethical Sale Shopping

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Once upon a time, I lived for sale shopping. A total fashion fiend, the thought of topping up my wardrobe for *gasp* up to 50% off was alluring. I’d wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed on Boxing Day to drive to the local shopping centre to scoop up an entire new wardrobe. It became a ritual and my family, slowly stirring after a post-Christmas lie in, would wait for me to return home to see the spoils from the early morning hunt.

My attitude is very different now, partly due to working in fashion and partly because the world is becoming more environmentally conscious. When I worked in fashion, I learned about how retailers would utilise discounts and sales to boost trade and that certain pieces are produced at a lower cost and bought in specifically for the sale period. Ever spot anything hanging on a sale rail that you haven’t seen all season? It’s probably a sale piece. Suddenly a discounted dress doesn’t seem so appealing.

The behind-the-scenes knowledge is interesting but the real change for me came when I started becoming increasingly conscious about consumption. I’m so glad that as a society we’re becoming aware of the effects of our collective actions on the planet and the people living in it. Plastic has rightly become a dirty word with plastic straw bans and plastic bag surcharges. The effects on the oceans and sealife are devastating. I’ve also researched into the human cost of fast fashion. It really makes you question what you buy and whether you really need to shop.

I’ve cut down in my personal consumption hugely in the last few years. I never have, and never will, do a haul video or post. But…realistically, we do still need to shop. There’s a huge middle ground between over-consumption and conscious consumption and it’s really important to reach a balance. Cutting down and consuming more consciously is a great step to take. So instead of sharing a list of products that you absolutely should buy, I wanted to share some tips to shop the sales more ethically:

  1. Ask yourself if you would you buy it if it was full price? It’s easy to get seduced by a saving but a bargain is only a bargain if you value the piece in the first place.
  2. Shop classic pieces. You will get much more longevity from a classic rollneck than a seasonal piece.
  3. Buy better quality – not fast fashion. I try to steer clear of fast fashion retailers if I can but mid-tier or designer brands are expensive. During the sales, I like to invest in quality pieces which will last longer and I’ll cherish for years to come.
  4. Carry some tote bags to avoid using plastic or paper bags. We’ve all got a ton around the house, it’s time to put to good use!
  5. Check out this list of ethical shops and retailers.

And if you’re making space in your wardrobe for a couple of new additions, think about where your clothes are going. I stopped throwing away clothes years ago. I tend to take clothes and unused makeup to my local charity shop. I sell designer pieces on Vestiaire Collective, Depop or eBay are also good options. I also wrote a Black Friday post about how to prepare for the sales and snap up exactly what you want.

I hope you found this guide useful. I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.

Jumper – H&M (past season) | Skirt* – Topshop | Heels – Nicholas Kirkwood (past season) | Ring – Saint Laurent (past season)

Photography by Kylie Eyra.

Reena Rai

Reena Rai is a 30-something London-based fashion, travel and lifestyle blogger. She has been blogging for 10 years (!), previously at before launching her self-titled blog.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links which are marked with a *

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