What does it mean to shop sustainably as a teenager? With the change of season upon us, this is a question we are asking ourselves as we watch our teens navigate retail stores in search of clothes.  What we are discovering is that it is really challenging to find brands that are sustainable yet affordable, while still appealing to their style.  Also  for many families it is not realistic for teens to shop sustainable expensive brands when they may even outgrow them in a matter of months.  Shopping at fast fashion retailers is therefore a reality for most teens.  But within these limitations, they can still make better choices until more sustainable options become available.  

Here are some tips for our Teens:

Choose Natural Fiber whenever possible: Avoid blended synthetic fibers as they are nearly impossible to recycle. Take the time to check the care label before purchasing.  These are the tags that are often sewn on the inside side seam of the garment. 

Buy fewer but better Basics: Most people only wear a fraction of what’s in their closets.  With this in mind, buy the best quality basics that fit your budget.  Basics are pieces you can easily mix and match and layer throughout the season or even throughout the year, usually coming in neutral palettes.  You can always personalize these with accessories or a statement piece like a cool jacket.  For trendy unique finds, save your money and hit the second-hand shops.

Try shopping at a Thrift Store near you: There are more thrift stores in Hong Kong than you think.  Do a quick search and you will discover a whole new world of thrift and second-hand fashion retailers in the city.  One of our favorites is the very wallet friendly and fashion forward Mee & Gee (@meegee_co).  They have multiple locations throughout the city and is a treasure trove for trendy and vintage items.  Places like Green Ladies (@sjsgreenladies) and the Redress Closet (@theredresscloset) are a slightly higher price point but with better quality. 

Organize a clothing / accessories swap party with your friends.  It’s a fun social event for all where you don’t have to spend any money and can go home with cool new items.  It’s a win-win. 

Consider shopping your parents’ closets: For some lucky teens, their parents’ closets can be an amazing resource.  It’s free and you can mix and match your finds with your own clothes.  Even if you and your parents are different sizes, there are always accessories to experiment with.  Ask first and stay open-minded.   

Plan ahead: When you outgrow your clothes, what will you do with them? What are your options? a) you can donate b) you can swap with friends c) hand-down to a friend or sibling and d) when they are too old and ratty to be donated or handed down, take them to a clothing recycling bin near you.  Some retailers including H&M and Zara have such bins and we should all take advantage of them more often. 

Shopping sustainably sometimes simply means making the best choices with what is on offer.  The important thing is making an effort to match our actions and choices to our beliefs.  After all, it’s not perfection but progress that we should all be reaching for.  

Eight Must Have Fashion Basics - Teens

1) T-shirts, 2) Shorts, 3) Jeans/Denim or Leggings, 4) Jean/Denim jacket, 5) Hoodie/Sweater, 6) Dressy Pants & Top/ or Dress, 7) Sneakers and 8) Dressy shoes  

Two friends shopping at a DTM second hand Pop-up