Why You Should Shop Local

It's the easiest way to look cool — and support your community.

Fashion is an international art form, with fashion weeks taking place all over the world, streetstyle photographers documenting the intricacies of global style, and more fashion-based reality shows than we can watch in a weekend. We can get inspired by Kenyan fabrics online and immediately snag knock-offs for cheap at H&M. But although style ranges from aspirational to practical, at the end of the day, it all stems from an economy. The fashion industry creates thousands of jobs, employs hundreds of artists and artisans, and keeps funds moving in and out of your community — if you let it. You already haunt the farmer's market for those killer tomatoes, so why not bring some of that locavore consciousness to what hangs in your closet?

Shopping local is quintessentially eco-friendly, and if that's not a buzzword that inspires you to shut down your tab, I don't know what will. Walking to stores in your neighborhood not only saves you gas and shipping costs, but it creates zero transportation pollution. Compare that to driving to the nearest mall (here's betting it's at least 20 minutes away) or buying a vintage t-shirt on eBay from a seller in the UK who has to ship it to you internationally. Using jet fuel. (The ozone layer is flinching already.)

Supporting your local fashion industry is also a way to keep creative jobs in your community. Whether you're a creative person or not, everyone can appreciate the necessity of artists and the importance of an economy where they can make a living. Local fashion means local designers, who often get their resources and labor from the community, creating even more jobs in your neighborhood (just look at the guys behind CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Public School — they source absolutely everything from the NYC garment district where they work). And don't underestimate the importance of local retail jobs, which often provide more creative control for their young, aspirational salespeople than jobs at corporate giants like Urban Outfitters, where you're lucky if you get to organize the sweater display.

And spending your clothing budget in your own neighborhood is also a way to maintain both the uniqueness of your wardrobe and your community's style in general. Have you ever thought about what it means when something is sold out of Forever 21's online store? Do you realize how many people had to buy the item you wanted in order for a giant chain like Forever 21 to run out of stock? Local designers and quirky local boutiques stock items that are as close to one-of-a-kind as you can get on a non-CEO budget, meaning you'll look like thrift-shopping Macklemore in a sea of Gucci tees. The more you shop local, the more stores get to know your specific tastes, and as local stores cater to local tastes, a distinctive fashion community is created. Wouldn't you love to dress a little less Southern California and a little more Los Feliz? A little less Chicago and a little more Andersonville? A little less NYC and a little more Bushwick? You get the point. Get thee to your local seamstress and look like a real person again.