The Five W’s of Shopping

Hannah Phang
3 min readNov 3, 2015


It’s well known in the ethical/sustainable fashion world that we should all buy less and when we do choose well. Here is my take on some key questions to ask yourself about your shopping habits.

Just knowing who the people are who making your clothes is a big fucking deal. If retailers aren’t going to be transparent about who is making their clothes it’s probably because it isn’t a pretty site. We’ve been trained to think that clothes just magically appear in stores but there are a shit ton of people that go into making it so easy for us on this side of the world. Look out for companies who are talking about their factories, and bonus points for being fair trade.

What is this must have item you are wanting to add to your life? Be curious about what it literally is and what it’s made from. Ask if it’s organic, uses natural or low impact dyes, is a sustainable material aka not made from petroleum (just so you know polyester is and who the fuck wants to wear oil next to their skin all day?). Also ask yourselves the series of questions about the style. Is it a well crafted classic that you’ll have forever or a shitty trendy item? If it’s the latter just say no. As Karl always say, “trendy is the last stage before tacky.”

How much do you really know about where you buy clothes? Is it a company known for their ethically made products that are crafted from sustainable materials or do they try to hide details of their production. Another where is in stores or online. In stores try to opt out of taking a plastic bag to carry your new stuff, it deserves better. And if you’re buying online, ask them what kind of packaging they use and if they purchase carbon offsets for the transportation involved.

Is this a last minute shopping trip because you have nothing to wear tonight, is on the way home or to work or is it planned because you realize it’s a staple you need and would wear super often? Often times we don’t think before we shop, which usually leads us to making impulse decisions that are uneducated and that we often regret. Try only shopping if you already know exactly what you want. Don’t make the stores on your walk from work to the subway part of your journey unless you’ve done your homework.

Is this an impulse buy because you’re bored and want to wear something new tonight or have you out thought into it and know you’ll wear it at least 30 times? Is it a piece you’ll have forever or is it just something that’s so cheap you’ll only wear once? We need to be a lot more mindful when shopping and understand that you vote with your dollar every time you buy something. Are you supporting fast fashion fuckers who are trying to brainwash you into thinking that you need new shit every day or companies who make you want to feel good and classy by investing in beautiful well made clothing?