Now more than ever, consumers feel the weight of their everyday choices on the planet. When it comes to fashion, traditional business models founded on unethical labor practices and harmful materials no longer cut it. This shift in mindset has paved the way for the sustainability wave, which is much more than just a marketing ploy.
From being selective about the brands you support to buying secondhand, there are many ways to revamp your spending habits and clothing picks to fit your values. Both Mother Earth and your closet will thank you for it.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
It can be tempting to indulge your shopaholic tendencies in the name of retail therapy or keeping up with the trends, but this is a trap set up by the fast fashion industry. Not only does fast fashion contribute significantly to global carbon emissions; but most of the clothes are often made with low-quality fabrics. Thus, they tend to get worn out easily and lead consumers to buy new items.
Sustainable brands are beginning to respond to this waste by advocating the return to slow fashion. You, too, can be part of this movement by investing in good quality items that grow old with you. Plus, some of the most popular labels today like Reformation and Everlane prove that you don’t need to sacrifice your advocacies for style. Though they might be slightly pricier, you save more money in the long run.
Take Care of Your Clothes
This might sound like an obvious answer, but you’d be surprised how many people would rather throw away their clothes instead of fixing them. To ensure your items last long, check the care tags for instructions on how to clean and store your items properly.
For delicate items like lingerie, Araks founder Araks Yeramyan recommends never putting them in the dryer and hand-washing them instead.
Even everyday garments like shirts need love. For your tops, avoid using hangers that are longer than the width of your garment. This is to avoid stretching and help them retain their natural shape. When you care for your clothes properly, you won’t need to replace them as often and they’ll look pretty much good as new.
Pick Versatile Pieces
With countless brand names and options flooding the market, it’s easy to get caught up and spend money on things you don’t really need. Sure, that leopard print jacket or pink leather skirt is cute, but how often are you actually going to wear it?
Choosing versatile pieces like well-fitted tank tops, basic jeans, or a stylish shirt will ensure that each piece gets all the love it deserves. Woman Within highlights how button down shirts are especially versatile and can be be dressed up or dressed down. They can also be paired with a variety of garments for any season. Having classic pieces like this in your wardrobe will lessen your impulse to constantly buy something new, as you can always just explore how to mix and match the clothing you already own.
When you buy secondhand clothing, not only are you extending the lifetime of existing clothes, you’re also saving a significant amount of money. There are some truly gorgeous pieces out there just waiting to be found for jaw dropping low prices.
There’s always your local Goodwill or the boutique vintage stores on Instagram, but even retail giants like H&M and Neiman Marcus are joining the resale industry as the popularity of pre-loved clothing continues to soar.
Support Sustainable Brands
While it’s good that more brands are stepping up their sustainability efforts with campaigns, it’s important to discern the sincere ones from plain bandwagoners. Mor Bakal urges customers to ask critical questions, such the purpose or motive behind the campaign, its beneficiaries, and the real social impact it makes.
To be sure, do your research and see who are the credible names in sustainable fashion. Brands like Eileen Fisher are founded on the promise to use only sustainable fibers, while making sure to maintain transparency in their methods. If a brand refuses to disclose their practices or sources, then it may be a red flag.
It’s not easy to go out of your way and support sustainability when convenient choices point in the other direction. However, through any obstacles you may face in your transition towards becoming a conscious fashion consumer, it is important to understand that every effort counts — no matter how small.