The fashion industry has come under massive scrutiny over the last few years featuring discoveries of big brands incinerating their excess stock and images of landfills full of the western world’s unsold stock.
Unfortunately, a lot of fashion brands aren’t transparent with their processes and we do end up seeing a lot of “greenwashing” and misleading information aiming to capitalise on the modern green movement. This makes ethical purchase decisions for the average consumer very difficult, if not impossible.
Most of us are hoping to make better choices and live a more sustainable, minimalist life, which is a wonderful thing. But navigating sustainable fashion can feel very overwhelming and making good choices may seem expensive. However, sustainable fashion is about a shift in mindset, going against the grain of what most brands stand for.
We are excited to start this journey to a more sustainable lifestyle with you, we’re not eco snobs, we don’t preach and we believe that changes are made one at time. Our team are consumers just like you, learning and expanding our knowledge around sustainable purchase decisions.
1. Sustainable Fashion is About Minimalism and Buying Less
Buying less is the complete opposite of what fashion marketers have been aiming for over the last 100+ years. The fashion industry has been built to make us buy more, more often. Unfortunately, this approach has led us to this very dangerous place where we are now.
Most of the clothing end up either in landfill or it’s incinerated at mass, given that there are so many people in poverty who struggle to find their next meal and something warm to wear, this sounds completely ludicrous.
We really should ask ourselves, how did we let this happen?
Modern-day fast fashion is also made to fall apart quite quickly, again encouraging you to buy more. While minimalist, sustainable, ethical and conscious fashion is built to last season after season.
I personally have quite a few dresses that I’ve been wearing for over 10 years, dresses that get me a compliment every time. This makes me giggle as my friends know by now that my reply will most likely be, “oh thanks, I’ve had this for 10 years”. Keeping your weight steady here does help as it also extends the shelf-life of your wardrobe, to be fair.
2. Sustainable Fashion is About Buying Consciously
Most of us, myself included, at some point or another have treated ourselves to a bit of retail therapy, but making purchase decisions when you’re emotional might not be the quickest road to sustainable living.
Before you purchase a new item for your wardrobe ask yourself:
- Is this a good fit for your body shape?
- Can you mix and match it with other items in your wardrobe?
- Does buying this brand and product fit with your personal value system?
- Will you wear it 30 times or more, for the next 3+ years?
Making mindful purchase decisions allows you to evaluate the reasoning behind your purchase. It will help you waste less and save money in the long term. I have many friends, that I love dearly, who have items in their wardrobes with the labels still attached months after it’s been purchased!
Buying more sustainably means that the items you do purchase should be constructed with quality, last several years, fit you beautifully and make you feel like a million bucks every time you wear it.
3. Research the Companies and Brands you’re Buying From
It might sound daunting and time-consuming, but important purchases are worth researching. Knowing where your clothing comes from will help you understand:
- What the company is doing to reduce its environmental impact
- Whether those who made the product are treated fairly
- How transparent the company is about their production processes
- From which materials the products are made
- How far it will travel before it gets to you (closer is better of course)
We have created short a list of 10 ethical and sustainable fashion brands that you can purchase in the UK, Remake has an extensive list of sustainable and ethical brands although it is a little US heavy currently. Please subscribe to our newsletter or keep an eye out on our social channels and the website for more information.
4. Repair Where Possible
Taking the time to repair your favourite items, either yourself or by using a local seamstress, will save you countless hours of shopping for something new again and again. You will reduce waste, carbon emissions and you will be supporting a local business if you pay for someone to repair it for you.
5. Buy Vintage and Trade
Thrifting and trading are becoming more and more popular, there are some great sites such as Thrifted, Beyond Retro and local charity shops are great examples of where you can find incredible items for less.
“The whole thing of clothes is insane. You can spend a dollar on a jacket in a thrift store. And you can spend a thousand dollars on a jacket in a shop. And if you saw those two jackets walking down the street, you probably wouldn’t know which was which.”Helen Mirren
6. Rent for Special Occasions
If you need a statement piece that you’re likely to only wear once, renting is a great solution. There is an increasing number of rental stores at a range of prices that will help you look great for every event, and your wardrobe won’t be clogged up with single wear items. It’s a win-win for everyone! Companies such as Hirestreet UK and Hire the Catwalk are options to consider
7. Buy Timeless Chic
Think timeless chic that fits your personality and body shape perfectly when you make purchase decisions. The best items are those that make you feel more confident, relaxed and happy.
Keeping up with the latest fashion trends really is exhausting and hard work, rather spend your precious time on the things that count, family, friends and experiences. The older you become, the more you’ll appreciate the timeless silhouettes in your go-to wardrobe that makes you feel incredible.
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8. Wash Garments Sparingly
This might sound a little too “extreme eco-warrior”, but hear us out. Washing your clothing after every wear adds to environmental damage in a few ways:
- Using laundry detergent and it’s associated packaging adds to environmental impact
- Washing most fabrics that contain things like acrylic, polyester and elastane sheds microplastics every time it’s washed. Studies have shown that garments can shed up to 1,900 fibres a wash which most likely will end up in the ocean where fish will ingest them, which in turn will end up on your plate (unless you’re veggie of course)
- Exessive washing and using a drier reduces the life of your carefully selected pieces
Whenever you’ve worn something inspect it and please smell it too, to see if it does need washing before putting it in the washbasket. Things like jeans can be worn many times before it needs a wash.
On the other hand, just sticking to natural fibres aren’t always a foolproof solution as the cotton production process for e.g. has its own issues. Fabrics like bamboo and hemp can be better in this case but have the same stretch capability as synthetic fibres so washing only when needed is a great choice.