If you didn't know; the fashion industry is the SECOND most polluting industry in the world (2nd after oil...) which is why you should be building a sustainable wardrobe.
There are many definitions for sustainable fashion, but to me it simply refers to how the clothing is produced, how we use it and how that effects the environment. In more detailed terms - how eco friendly the resources used (to make the garment) are, how those resources are made, and also how we use the clothing and discard it. Below is a list detailing the 7 techniques I use to create a sustainable wardrobe.
ONLY BUY THINGS THAT YOU LOVE 100%. This way, you will wear it a lot and get great use out of the piece, instead of loving it 70% and only wearing it a few times. Pieces that you don't wear often (because you don't love them 100%) take up unnecessary room in your wardrobe and most likely will end up being thrown away. When you are shopping, and eye a piece of clothing that you like, take your time to try it on and think of other garments it goes with that you already own. At this point, if you are questioning whether or not to buy it, your answer should be no.
TAKE CARE OF THE CLOTHES YOU ALREADY OWN. Even if they aren't supportive of a sustainable or ethical brand - you've already purchased them, so make them last as long as possible to make all the pollution, water and chemicals gone it to making it a little worth while. Taking care of your clothing properly includes: folding them away neatly and hanging them when necessary, washing them as per the garments instructions, and also hanging them the right way whilst drying to prevent crinkling or marking. It's a very easy and simple step to implement into your wardrobe upkeep and is a step closer to having a sustainable wardrobe.
SUPPORT ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE BRANDS. This step requires a little research and can be a little daunting; especially if you find out your favourite brand is caught up in this fast fashion crisis. If you do happen to find out that your favourite brand isn't sustainable or ethical, I would definitely ditch them as there are so many amazing brands that are sustainable and ethical that need support to continue doing what they are doing. Some sustainable and ethical brands can be a little pricey as they aren't manufactured in mass amounts, paying low wages to their workers or using the cheapest source of material they can find. A lot of time and effort goes into producing an ethical or sustainable garment - from sourcing the right eco-friendly material (that even includes the way it was harvested and produced), to actually making the garment (keeping in mind the rights of the workers), trying to reduce the amount of water used, and also sourcing natural or eco-friendly dyes and washes, rather than using pollutive chemicals and dyes. I will make a series of blog posts that list ethical and sustainable brands to support so keep an eye out for them. But until then, do a bit of your own research to find brands that suit your style, and are ethical and sustainable! My favourite brand is The Reformation - they make such beautiful clothing, they are amazing quality, and are very conscious of the water, chemicals, pollution, and even electricity that they use in the process of making their garments. I have bought a lot of clothing from them and have loved it all! They have a lot of information about sustainable fashion on their website so its worth checking it out - www.thereformation.com - In the photo below, the tan jacket and black floral dress are both from The Reformation. The tan jacket is from their winter collection a couple of years ago and it retailed for about $500 which was way too expensive for me, so I waited and went on eBay everyday searching for it, until finally, a year later it came up on eBay for only $50 and I got it (of course) and it is still on of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe (one that I will never give away or stop wearing)!!
BUY CLOTHES THAT ARE HIGH QUALITY AND DURABLE, when unable to support ethical, sustainable brands. If you can't always afford to buy from your favourite sustainable or ethical brand, or they don't have the exact piece you need, then I would recommend buying a piece that is high quality and durable. This way, they won't show signs of wear after 3 uses, or start to fray or unthread when stretched or washed. Believe it or not, buying a few high quality garments is cheaper than buying loads of low quality garments. A lot of people opt for the cheapest option in clothing thinking the they are saving money; but cheap always means low quality which means it won't last long at all, thus having to go and buy another cheap, low quality item - and the cycle goes on. When you buy a high quality item, it can last for years and years, meaning you don't have to replace it (hopefully ever). Buying high quality clothing compared to low quality clothing is a more sustainable option as you are sustaining the garment from ending up in landfill, and not being harmful to the environment by doing so (aside from the unsustainable manufacturing process). For example, in the photo above and below is a bikini top from the band Fella swim, which aren't a sustainable or ethical brand, but focus and pride themselves on the quality of their pieces. They source the best quality fabric and patterns for their pieces which is why I was happy to support them and buy one of their bikini tops as I know it will last forever.
BUY VINTAGE OR SECOND HAND CLOTHES. Vintage clothes are simply clothes that were made pre 2000s. While second hand are generally post 2000s. Both types (vintage and second hand) have been worn, loved and used by someone else prior to you purchasing it which means you are prolonging the garments life instead of sending it to landfill. Already, this is a sustainable way of purchasing clothes! Vintage clothing also tends to be great quality (obviously...Its already lasted this long!) as this issue of fast fashion wasn't big, or even around back then, with the quality of the garment being the frontmost priority. Another example: the denim shorts in the photo below are Levi's, which is a very iconic denim brand. Denim is actually one of the worst materials when it comes to sustainability which is why I wanted to buy a vintage pair that has already been loved and used (to prolong its life), instead of buying a brand-new pair knowing there are vintage pairs that can be saved and given new life!
SELL YOUR UNWANTED CLOTHING. Whether you’ve just cleaned out your closet in order to create a sustainable wardrobe, or you've got a few items you never really wear, selling it is a great option that will stop your clothes ending up in landfill. This way, you are giving it a new home, and also making some money which can then be invested into buying clothes from sustainable and ethical brands. You may also want to donate or give away your clothing - but this option is very risky because giving it to someone doesn't ensure that they will wear it (as they didn't purchase it, therefore won't feel the need to wear it or won't feel guilty for throwing it away). Whereas if someone spends their money on one of your garments, they intend on wearing and using it.
MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHING. Making your own clothing, or even altering pieces that don't suit or fit you properly is another great option for creating a sustainable wardrobe. It obviously takes a lot of time and effort, but that also means you will definitely wear it and love it because you made it yourself. Whether you use a pattern or a DIY tutorial, there are so many things you can make. I would recommend doing a little research on fabrics and fabric stores before buying any fabric (as fabric harvesting and manufacturing is where the issue starts with the fast fashion industry). I have got a few diy tutorials on my blog that you could start with - they are simple and easy for anyone to follow! Here are a few you could try:
Creating a sustainable wardrobe takes some time and a lot of research, but it is a great movement to be a part of as the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world - which is very scary. Keep an eye out for more posts on sustainable and ethical fashion and follow my social media accounts (below!)
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