Changing the fashion industry may seem like a daunting task, until shoppers realize the first step is within walking distance.
Located at 1121 E. 2100 South in downtown Sugar House, Unhinged Boutique is a locally- owned store that prides itself for being “purveyors of the oddly beautiful.” According to its website, Unhinged “focus[es] on locally made, one of a kind and up-cycled products and oddities.”
Erin Moore, a junior at Westminster and employee at Unhinged, said the company is not just a clothing store but also “a lifestyle store.”
“Pretty much everything you see in the store is for sale, even the fixtures,” Moore said. “We don’t do the whole fast-fashion thing. You don’t have to buy something brand new. You can buy something that is totally unique and has a history.”
Fast fashion is a recent term that is used to describe cheap and affordable clothing that moves quickly from designer to stores such as Forever 21, H&M and GAP.
Although the clothing is cheap, fast fashion can be a lucrative business model. According to Forbes Magazine, H&M Chairman Stefan Persson is number 28 on Forbes global billionaires list with an estimated net worth of $22.8 billion.
However, budget is not the primary worry regarding fast fashion.
“We have so much clothing that we are just throwing it away,” said Marlene Mercado, a 25-year-old English student. “It’s really harmful for the environment, and it starts with the fact that [factories] are being distributed across overseas. Instead of clothing being made in the U.S., it’s being made in places like China and Bangladesh.”
When clothing is made in other countries, regulation can get complicated.
The Center for Environmental Health reports that accessories at stores such as Forever 21, Wet Seal and Charlotte Ruse have “contained more lead than allowed under a legal agreement.”
Mercado became more interested in the topic of “fast fashion” after watching the documentary “The True Cost.” She has since become more actively engaged in the local clothing industry and tries to shop from local designers and boutiques, such as Unhinged, when she can.
“[Unhinged] sells actual local clothing and they have a few brands that take vintage clothing and rework it to make it more fashionable,” Mercado said.
One hindrance for shopping local can be the prices, which can be off-putting for some students.
“When I go shopping, I try to find clothing that is cheap or that I can afford,” said Bayley Meyer, sophomore mathematics major. “I kind of prioritize that over local clothing,”
Luckily for students on a budget, Sugar House has many thrift stores with new or gently used clothing, such as Uptown Cheapskate at 2120 S. 1300 East, Pib’s Exchange at 1147 Ashton Ave. and Deseret Industries at 2140 S. 800 East.
“Probably half of my clothes are from thrift stores or locally made,” said Moore, who works at Unhinged. “Just because somebody doesn’t want a shirt anymore doesn’t mean the shirt isn’t good.”