How to Ask Family to STOP Gifting You Fast Fashion Clothes

Giada Nizzoli

How to Ask Family to STOP Gifting You Fast Fashion Clothes

You’ve worked hard to break free from fast fashion (well done, you!). 

But whenever Christmas or your birthday approaches, you start to feel the usual anxiety: you know some loved ones will buy you fast fashion clothes as presents.

Ouch. That’s so annoying, isn’t it? And you’ve probably already dropped plenty of clues, hoping they’d get the hint.

Unfortunately, skirting around it won’t work. You need to ask them.

“But how do you tell someone to stop buying you clothes? Aren’t they going to hate me?”

Don’t worry: it doesn’t have to feel terrifying or turn into an argument.

Here’s how to do that politely and without hurting anyone’s feelings.

(Psst. We’ve even come up with some ‘scripts’ you can use)

Try not to get too annoyed or angry

We get it. Receiving clothes as gifts when you’re trying to avoid fast fashion? It’s irritating, to say the least.

But keep in mind that your family and friends:

  • Probably mean well – Gifting clothes might simply be their love language
  • Might not know just how terrible fast fashion is – Most consumers are still unaware of its impact on the planet. Or how those brands keep their garment workers in modern slavery conditions. So, we bet your loved ones just see a garment that looks pretty, it makes them think of you, and BOOM: they buy it. They aren’t thinking about how those clothes were made and by whom (yet)

Family members having a conversation around fast fashion clothes as presents

Have this conversation as early as possible

When do you usually receive fast fashion clothes as gifts? Is it for your birthday, Christmas, or a different occasion?

Whatever it is, plan ahead!

Ideally, you want to ask your family to stop buying you clothes before they’ve actually purchased a new garment for you.

Choose the right method for you and that person

You know yourself and your loved ones best!

So, decide how and where you’re going to tell them. For example:

  • Next time you hang out in person, perhaps over a cup of coffee
  • Over the phone, especially if you live far away
  • Via text or voice note, if you get anxious easily or think they would rather have some time to reflect on it before answering you 

Take a deep breath, and ask your loved ones to stop buying you fast fashion clothes

Consumer asking a loved one to stop gifting them clothes

The right balance? Be polite and respectful but decisive and assertive

Honestly: you’ve got NOTHING to feel guilty for! (You literally made a choice that’ll benefit the planet, reduce waste, and stop supporting companies that exploit their workers).

So, here’s how we recommend asking your family to stop buying you fast fashion clothes as gifts:

  1. Appreciate this person and their intention – Start by acknowledging that you know they mean well
  2. Make it about you, not them – You don’t want to blame them. So, try and say ‘I’ more often than ‘you.’ Focus on how receiving those clothes makes you feel and why it matters to you
  3. Back it up and give them examples – Saying “Please, stop buying me fast fashion clothes as presents” is a complete sentence… but it’s unlikely to stick. So, tell your loved ones why you made this choice, and give them some examples of how bad fast fashion is 
  4. Offer some alternatives – If they should no longer buy you fast fashion clothes, what can they give you instead? (Psst. More ideas on that soon!)

You’re welcome to draw inspiration from our scripts

1. “[Name / type of family member], you’re always so generous, and I appreciate that you love buying me clothes. However, I’ve worked really hard to break free from fast fashion. 

Not sure if you’re aware of this, but it’s actually terrible: the clothes you buy from those stores/websites involve materials and processes that pollute the planet and contribute to climate change. And they’re often made by garment workers who’re treated like slaves. 

So, I don’t want to support that anymore.

And I wouldn’t want you to spend money on clothes I’d never wear or give to charity straighatway. So, please, [offer alternative]. What do you think?”

2. [Name/type of family member], I wanted to talk to you about [Christmas / my birthday / etc.].

You might have already [heard this / found out through my Instagram / etc.], but I’ve decided to be more minimalist and conscious with my clothes. 

So, I stopped buying fast fashion garments because they made me unhappy. 

I appreciate you love buying clothes as presents, but I no longer want to support brands that don’t care about the environment and their workers.

So, instead, [offer alternative]. Would that work for you?”

Offer them an alternative

Consumer wearing a recycled nylon jumper

This depends on you and, especially, whether or not you want people to buy you sustainable clothes instead.

If you don’t want to receive clothes as presents (at all)

Maybe it’s not just about fast fashion per se. If you’ve curated a minimalist wardrobe or signature style, it makes sense that you don’t want people to buy you new clothes—full stop.

So, you could suggest:

  • A different type of material present, like a book, something for the house, and so on
  • Non-perishable items like food or drinks
  • Making a charity donation in your name
  • An experience and/or their time

If you’re happy to receive sustainable clothes as presents

Tell your family and friends that, if they reeeeeeeaally want to gift you clothes, they could:

  • Give you an existing item from their wardrobe – Perhaps something meaningful and with a story attached to it (like that business attire piece that empowered them during their working days, or the scarf they were wearing when you first met, etc.)
  • Get it from a sustainable brand – Send them links to your favourite online stores, ask for a gift card, or tell them about Project Cece (yes, that’s us!). We brought hundreds of fair trade brands in one place and added filters to narrow down your choices

Basically, if you’re serious about ditching fast fashion altogether, you must ask your family to stop buying you clothes. 

But as you now know, it doesn’t have to be scary. It can be a simple conversation—and you’ve got nothing to feel bad or anxious about. You’ve got this!

Found this helpful? Start receiving our tips and inspiration to make even more sustainable fashion choices.

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