The era of disposable fashion is coming to a close (well I really hope so), that buy it, wear it once or twice, then throw it out fashion that has been rampant in what is known as the “junior market” (that is the young women’s fashion 16 – 25 age market). And I believe that the more you know about your style, your likes and dislikes, your body, your colouring and your personality, improve your ability to purchase and wear clothes for years, not just weeks or months, making anything you buy a more sustainable option.
The fact is, no matter the source or fibre (more on those later) if you don’t wear it, then it hasn’t been a sustainable purchase. When you make more considered decisions about what you wear and buy, you are going to be helping the environment.
Purchasing a $10 pair top that falls to pieces after 3 washings (and then buy another, and another and another) is no cheaper on your purse and worse for the environment than purchasing a $300 top that you wash 30 times – same cost to your purse, but way better for the environment as the cost of manufacture (such as the 2700 litres of water it takes to grow the cotton to make one cotton tee-shirt) is reduced overall.
Now I’m not here to lecture on sustainability, but I want to give you some resources that can help you make more considered decisions.
What I know is that we all have to wear clothes (we don’t live in nudist colonies) and clothes do wear out. So we have to buy and buy again over time. So rather than give it all up, why not invest in knowing more about what works (thousands of blog posts here to help you discover what works, plus 7 Steps to Style which will give you the inside knowledge on what you need to consider for your unique features with my professional advice). Making yourself more knowledgeable will help you avoid becoming a fashion victim and will assist you in building a fabulous wardrobe over time, that lasts for years (now that is sustainable) and that makes you feel fabulous too.
We all have stuff in our wardrobe that we may not have considered its origins, and that’s fine, no need to beat yourself up. So it’s worth arming yourself with a little knowledge to help you make better decisions in the future.
Sustainability of Fabrics
Hemp – the sustainable cousin of cotton – find out more here.
Denim – it’s made from cotton, so uses lots of water, and then if you have it processed (sandblasted to get that distressed look) it actually creates a health risk for the workers. So look for brands that use natural dyes and organic cotton. Remember, denim lasts years – so it can be a good fabric if you wear it and wear it and wear it, and that distressing is usually around the crotch which calls attention to that area – so you don’t want the distressed ones anyway do you? Find out more here.
Cotton – sadly not as sustainable and ethical as you’d like. uses masses of water to grow and in many developing countries is picked by children. Look for organic cotton which is the best cotton option. Find out more here.
Linen – sustainable and durable – find out more here.
Silk – It’s a great fibre and when ethically produced provides employment to around 1 million rural workers in China and 7.9 million in India. In fact, in India, it has been an important enterprise for developing communities and the empowerment of women. Find out more about where to get your sustainable silk here.
Wool – a fibre with many great benefits, it’s antibacterial, breathes and is warm. Find out more about the ethical production here.
Polyester – it’s not biodegradable but can be recycled and it lasts for a long time – so it’s a fibre to look for in the thrift store! Find out more here.
Nylon – yes it’s made of plastic and so doesn’t break down, but it can be recycled which is a plus. Find out more here.
And of course – once you’ve already made the investment in your clothes – you want to make them last as long as you can- some tips here to help!
Ethical Fashion Production
The other aspect is the ethical production of your clothes. I’m sure you’re not keen on the idea of forced labour and child labour being used to create that fabulous outfit on your back. Find out here which labels are the most and least ethical in the production of their garments. Here is a list of brands from the USA. And a list of European brands here.
Ethical Fashion Resources
Discover what works for you, the colours to choose so you can create your own sustainable wardrobe and the shapes and styles that will never go out of fashion on your body.