Recently, I’ve been sharing a lot of posts about ethical and sustainable fashion, from tips on how to shop vintage as well as why it’s important to support independent designers. I spent a decade working in the fashion industry and in that time, I became acutely aware of the impact the industry has on the world – it’s not good. Sustainable fashion is a much-needed movement globally.
Fashion is the second biggest polluter on our planet behind the oil industry. This fact blows my mind and has driven my desire to move away from fast fashion towards more ethical and sustainable fashion consumption. As a blogger, I feel it’s my responsibility to share my journey and encourage others to live a more sustainable lifestyle. We only have one planet, we must protect it.
So, first things first, let’s cover some basic definitions. Fast Fashion is a term I’m sure you’ve heard of. It refers to the business model whereby retailers like Zara quickly replicate catwalk trends for the high street. Luxury clothing is copied quickly and cheaply, the result is trend-led pieces which aren’t created to last. They’re here for a good time, not a long time. These pieces are often disposed of as quickly as they hit the shop floor. On average, an individual in the UK produces up to 70 kilograms of fabric waste each year.
The antithesis of fast fashion is slow fashion. Slow fashion refers to an awareness of fashion manufacturing, considering the processes and resources used to produce clothing. This essentially means buying better quality garments made from high quality, sustainable materials. They tend to be timeless pieces from brands who have 2-3 drops a year made from smaller factories. Examples are Everlane, Reformation and Know The Origin.
I adore the above brands and fell head over heels in love with Reformation when I last visited the US. But the lure of fast fashion tends to be the affordable price points. Reformation only uses natural and recycled materials and also take into consideration water and land usage, toxicity and human impact. This is absolutely brilliant. But at around £250 a dress, the price points aren’t super accessible.
While I would love to dress head-to-toe in Reformation for the rest of my life, sadly my bank account doesn’t quite facilitate the kind of life I deserve. Affordable brands are a necessary evil, we’re not all JD Rockefeller. However, the disposable element of fast fashion is completely in your control so it doesn’t necessarily need to be evil if you approach shopping with a sustainable mindset.
Conscious consumerism is where you make positive decisions throughout the buying process, to help balance the negative impact of consumerism. Buying vintage clothing, shopping natural or cruelty-free cosmetics or buying Fairtrade goods are all examples of conscious consumerism.
Your purchase power has clout. Please use it wisely to reduce your environmental and human impact on the planet. I shared four different ways I approach conscious consumerism:
- Cut down the amount you buy
Since I started my journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, I have drastically cut down on the amount of clothing I buy.
- Make considered purchases
Resist the urge to make impulse purchases. That emergency top/dress/skirt isn’t necessary and often when we purchase something in an “emergency”, it’s not
- Shop for classic pieces
Ignore the price tag and shop for investment pieces which you’ll wear year in, year out. I bought both the top and skirt I’m wearing about 18 months ago and I still adore them and wear them all the time.
- Look for quality
Go for natural fabrics such as cotton over synthetic fabrics and always consider how they feel against your skin, I learnt this from my mum and grandma. Keep an eye out for loose threads and buttons too!
Top – Pretty Little Thing (past season) | Skirt – Nasty Gal | Bag – Saint Laurent (past season) | Heels – Brian Atwood (past season)
Photography by Kylie Eyra.