What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is constantly evolving, gone are the days of the crunchy hemp and rustic hand knits of a few makers with good intentions. Now brands, from the small and independent, to the large and mass-producing are looking for ways to right the excesses and wrongs of the past, so that our wardrobe has a chance of matching our eco-values.
There is no perfect ‘sustainable’ garment, all use up resources, however, we can make better choices by asking questions and prioritising the brands that are taking responsibility for what and how much product they put into the world.
The very nature of the fast fashion industry – rapid production of trends made with low quality materials at very regular intervals – make it one of the most environmentally un-friendly businesses on the planet. As “Ecotellectuals” and conscious shoppers, we all want to be able to choose sustainable fashion brands where possible, aware of greenwashing in fashion, and putting our purchasing power into companies with a social and environmental conscience that match our own.
No matter what price point you are shopping at, you can make choices that reduce your impact on the planet. Read on for our guide on how to make conscious clothing choices in order to build your own sustainable wardrobe.
How to Build a Sustainable Wardrobe
While there are ongoing environmental ramifications of the fashion industry, there are also a number of brands acknowledging these issues and adapting to create positive change, as well as new sustainable fashion brands entering the market with strong values and practices.
When shopping for sustainable fashion brands, do some digging before you reach the shops. We ask questions like:
What are the garments made from? What are their manufacturing practices? Do they have a minimum standard for animal cruelty? Do they have a charitable affiliation? What is their obligation to their workers and wages? Do they hold any certifications or standards? If you can’t find this information readily, directly contact the company to find out more. A company should be more than willing to share this information with you.
You may not be able to find a brand that ticks all the boxes but pick the ones that are most important to you.
Pay More, Buy Less
Fast fashion has convinced us that we need the latest trends, and it gives us the means to continually stock up by offering “trendy”, low quality garments at prices that mean many can purchase clothes weekly – often to dispose of weekly too. This is the first period in history where clothes and the workers that make them have been so severely devalued. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that paying £2 for a t-shirt means that someone, somewhere is being ripped off.
Changing the way we think about clothes is integral to reducing our consumption of fast fashion. To begin with try to stop using the word fashion (def: a popular or the latest style of clothing) and shop for timeless clothes (def: items worn to cover the body). We are not suggesting you avoid trends altogether but look for ones that will last. Find clothes you love enough to wear them out and pay a little more for them – hopefully closer to their true value – then buy less. Quality over quantity.
Investing in a higher-quality items may feel a little indulgent at first but when you consider the environmental impact of high consumption of ‘disposal’ clothing, the benefits speak for themselves. It’s important to remember that “paying more” doesn’t necessarily equate to “being sustainable” so be sure to continue your research into brands to ensure your money is being put towards the brands who are aiming to do better by the environment and the makers.
A marketing and finance report recently published by Nielsen showed that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for a sustainably made product1. Over 50% of these consumers are influenced by key sustainability factors such as a product being made from natural and/or organic ingredients (69%), a company being environmentally friendly (58%), and a company being known for its commitment to social value (56%)1. Music to our ears!
Create a Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothes that can be worn trans-seasonally, in a number of different ways, and built to stand the test of time. While you don’t necessarily need to put a number on how many garments allowed in your capsule wardrobe, aiming for 30 or less pieces is a good start.
Creating a capsule wardrobe for yourself means not only will you will wear items more often, but you will also reduce the time and money you spend on shopping for clothes and time deciding on outfits as everything is chosen to work together. Your capsule wardrobe will ideally boast timeless pieces, items from your favourite sustainable brands, some vintage and even some hand-me-downs from friends.
Often considered the most sustainable way to shop for clothes, shopping vintage or second-hand has seen a massive revival in the last few years. Purchasing ‘pre-loved’ clothing means you are keeping clothes out of landfill and circulating in wardrobes instead. We think it’s such an important part of the sustainable fashion picture that we always have a selection of vintage available instore at Content.
Commit to Wearing Them Out
Continue wearing the garments in your wardrobe for as long as they can possibly last, rather than disposing of them as soon as you get sick of the style.
Mend and repair them, revive them with patches or a little alteration here and there to update the style. If you shop knowing that you have committed to wearing an item until it is worn out, it focuses your purchasing to items you really love – which is what your wardrobe should be made up of – we live in them after all, why not love them!
- Markets and Finances. (2015). The Sustainability Imperative. Retrieved 31st January 2019 from:https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2015/the-sustainability-imperative.html