“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
Native American saying
We all know the importance of looking after our world and our environment, but as the earth seems so constant and powerful it is easy to be whisked up in the fleeting allure of high fashion, commercialism and capitalism. These days, it is easier than ever to make sustainable fashion choices. It just takes a little thought, some consideration and a desire to make a difference. We can help build communities and protect our planet, simply by considering our purchases a little more carefully.
Being mindful when shopping
“Buy less, choose well, make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.”
Vivienne Westwood summed it up beautifully, expressing that we need to buy fewer items of clothing and focus on purchasing quality items that will last. This means avoiding fashion fads that will fade quickly. We need to focus on a timeless look, that will carry us through multiple seasons.
If you are interested in fashionable choices, then there are plenty of sustainable fashion brands out there. Stella McCartney is committed to green clothing, Svilu use locally produced organic cotton, Kowtow’s cotton is fair trade and 100% organic, Freedom of Animals produces beautiful quality faux-leather accessories, even high street favourites M&S have strong ethical policies. Wabi Sabi, Jan Laurent, PG Essentials, Andes Fashion, Abury, Leomax Collection, Terra Urbana, Tu & Tu, Cocco Drive, Babouka, Bambootique, Lucky Nelly and many more are all an important part of the ethical clothing movement and are names that we should all make ourselves familiar with. You just need to do a little research, like you would do to find best organic food outlets. Fast fashion is the same as fast food: unhealthy for you and the environment.
Nowadays, as resources are dwindling it is more important than ever to take an interest in where you clothes are coming from. Think about fair trade and the people who are making these clothes, consider the impact on the environment. Consider production methods, as well as shipping and transportation. You have the power to control your own choices and make an impact.
Vintage clothing is a great way to express yourself through style without draining any more of the earth’s precious resources. Vintage can look cutting-edge and current when combined with more contemporary items. You can also use vintage pieces to express current trends. Take Gucci’s recent Cruise/Resort collection that was exhibited in New York. The models looked like they had raided their grandparent’s attic before slouching down the runway, they all had an air of experimentation and abundant self-expression. Combining colours, fabrics and textures is very fashionable right now and vintage options are a wonderful way to celebrate this look. You can also use vintage clothing to encapsulate other fashion trends; denim jackets are very hot after Burberry showed them in their SS15 collection, vibrant stripes and prints such as those shown by DKNY and Lacoste can easily be expressed through vintage-ware and Oscar de la Renta has brought back the ultra vintage gingham look. Vintage is also a great way to honour trending colours without opting for unsustainable choices.
Buying sustainable options
“Everytime you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Many people are under the misconception that sustainable clothing is going to be unaffordable. Of course the brands that use unethical practises can afford to sell their clothing off for very low rates as they focus on getting them made as cheap as possible. Quality clothing costs money and time to make, especially if the people who make the clothes are being paid a fair wage. It makes sense to invest in pieces that last longer, rather than something that will only be worn a few times. Gather and See offer affordable sustainable clothes that are also beautiful, Luva Huva is essential for affordable sustainable lingerie, Della’s authentic clothing won’t break the bank and LA’s Reformation manage to be achingly on trend without costing the earth. There are plenty of options for men too; Cock and Bull Menswear offers stylish and sustainable ethical clothing solutions for men, Komodo has wonderful menswear collections as well as beautiful womenswear, Modavanti has expanded its range to include menswear and brands such as Brave Gentleman, Roozt and Baron Wells, are full of clothing that has been developed with consideration to the environment and the global community.
“The best way to make a contribution in fashion is to promote the idea that a fundamental interest in preserving the environment is in itself fashionable.”
Consider the community
When it comes to making ethical choices we need to think about communities. What purchases will help our local community? What can we give back? Are there people who live near you who make their own clothing? Are their small independent stores that you could support rather than buying from larger brands? Make a list of the local people who are part of the fashion community and make them your first port of call when it comes to buying new fashion purchases. Encourage others to support the local community by telling them what you have bought and where it is from. Social media is wonderful for this.
Trendy or stylish?
Trends come and go quickly, and although they can be represented through sustainable fashion choices or vintage options, the very best decision in terms of sustainability is to streamline your wardrobe. Strip it back so that it contains carefully selected pieces that are timeless and work well together. Buying clothes that complement each other, and share a similar colour palette will save you from making impulse purchases from less-sustainable sources. You want your image to match your ethos, and life choices. Let your clothes represent your desire to help the environment through sustainable clothing. It is the right, key pieces and a carefully put together, thought out ensemble that makes someone look stylish. Take time selecting accessories; consider which of your clothes work well together. Portraying a stylish and chic image is just as easy using sustainable ecological choices, as it is more conventional methods.
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Your shopping list
Some of the most unethical and unsustainable purchases are impulse buys. We see something and are convinced that we need it. We are conditioned to think this way through mindless advertising campaigns and corporate brainwashing. We’ll buy something without considering how it was made, who made it and what impact that purchase has on the greater world around us. This single item may not fit in with our existing wardrobe, prompting the need to purchase more items. A new pair of shoes, a matching bag or jacket. Before we know it we are making even more unethical fashion choices.
To avoid this spiral of consumerism it is important to really assess your wardrobe. What do you really need? What suits you, your lifestyle and your figure? Keep the key pieces that will last, and find ways to get rid of everything else that doesn’t involve filling up the landfill. Pass them on to friends, donate them to charity and/or make them into something else. Take a long hard look at what is left, are any additional pieces needed? What would be most versatile and fitting to your capsule wardrobe? What would match with most other pieces? The biggest question of all…..do you really need it? Make a short list of pieces that you need, absolute essentials and note down what colors and styles would work with the rest of your wardrobe. Next time you are out shopping, keep that list visible, keep referring to it and don’t be tempted to deviate. Every time you see something alluring, ask yourself if you really need it.
Some sustainable labels such as Amour Vert have created their collection deliberately for capsule wardrobes, meaning you can select clothes in the most economic and ecologically sound manner while still looking effortlessly stylish.
Do your research and find ethical sustainable places to shop. Move away from the idea of retail therapy, shopping to feel better or shopping as a leisure activity. Every time you are drawn towards something with dubious production methods, think about the people who made that piece and how they are feeling.
Do we care enough?
Studies show that we do:
66% of us agree that consumption has to be reined in.
65% say they feel responsible for buying products that don’t harm the planet.
10% of us would pay more for clothing with an eco-friendly label. Yet, ethically-produced clothing makes up only 1% of clothing worn worldwide.
These statistics prove that people do want to make a difference, but few of us actually show it. Every time we spend money, we vote for the world that we want so it’s time that we showed it and used our money for more ethical and community-led projects. We have the power to make a difference; we have the power to make significant changes. There are so many alternatives out there, so many options and it is down to us to take action.
What we wear should make us feel great. It should show us at our absolute finest, and bring out our assets. Buying sustainable fashion does this more than anything else. It exhibits our figure, as well as our ethics. It shows our humanity, our compassion and our thoughtfulness; nothing is more desirable than that.
“The earth is what we all have in common.”