SUSTAINABLE FASHION - MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK
“The reality is that there is no such thing as sustainable fashion; everything a company produces and every purchasing decision a consumer makes has a lasting impact on the planet and people. There’s only more or less moderate consumption," - Dworsky and Bard Bringéus, Founders of Askel, a clothing brand.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION?
Sustainable fashion encompasses many different topics and issues. It does not just mean eco-friendly clothing, but ethically produced and quality products that can be savored for longer periods of time. According to Green Dreamer, a podcast and journal centered about sustainability, “Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly.” It also refers to companies that give their employees fair wages, health care, reasonable hours, and safe work environments, unlike many fast fashion brands that we consume.
Unfortunately, the majority of brands that we shop at are fast fashion. They put their employees in life threatening environments with very little pay. The clothing quality is usually not good and the impact on the environment is detrimental. While it is difficult to do, it is best to steer clear of fast fashion brands.
Being able to shop sustainably is a privilege. The one upside of fast fashion is the inevitably cheaper prices. This allows a larger portion of people to dress in clothes they like and are confident in (a right everybody should have). Often, when brands are truly sustainable they are less affordable. There are some brands that are affordable but they are far and few between. So, if you have the opportunity to shop sustainably, please take it because not everybody can!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Creating a more sustainable world is not just up to sustainable clothing business owners, but to you and me, as consumers and people who wear clothes (whether you care about clothes or not).
Sustainable fashion also means purchasing clothes that you can wear and cherish for a long time. There are three things that you should evaluate about a piece of clothing before you buy it
The Quality - Normally, you will notice that fast fashion brands are about quantity, not quality. The clothes do not last long, as they are the products of mass production. This leads to the clothes being discarded and more being ordered to replace them, a continuous cycle. Buying quality garments is essential to having long-lasting items and not contributing to the wasteful cycle. Here is an extensive guide about how to assess quality.
Fit - If you want something to stay in your wardrobe for longer, buy things that fit properly. It’s important that the piece looks good so that you wear it. However, this can be very difficult for many reasons. It will probably take time and research, but when you find a brand that you like AND carters toward your specific body type it will change your life and the environment will thank you.
Will YOU wear it? - It's Important that when you shop, you're constantly asking yourself “Is this a piece that I can see myself wearing for a long time?” or “Is this really me or am I just buying it because it looked good on that other person?” Making sure that you shop for clothes that you will actually wear can be hard but is important when becoming more sustainable.
EXTENDING THE LIFETIME OF YOUR CLOTHES
The longer you can make your clothes last, the better. A significant part of being sustainable in the clothing world is taking care of your clothes so you don’t have to keep buying new garments. Here are some simple and easy ways to do just that:
Wash and dry your clothes properly - check the clothing tags for instructions. In the wash your clothes can shrink or change color, so be conscious when cleaning your clothes
Learn to mend or clothes properly (or get someone else to do it) - Don’t just disregard/throw out your clothes if there is a small hole or seam rip
Store properly - You would be surprised to know that specific items should be stored in a certain way to maintain their shape for longer!
Another way to extend the lifetime of your clothing is upcycling. Turn your clothes into something else that you will find useful!
DO BACKGROUND CHECKS
Do your research on the brands that you shop at! Even if you think it is something that you don’t have time for. As we have learned, it is important to put thought into the clothes you buy. It really shouldn’t take too much time to find your answer. I have come to find that if there is not a portion of the brands’ website/social media dedicated to sustainability and their mission around it then it’s not sustainable. Note that this can be hidden in the ‘About’ section, so do some clicking around! However, keep in mind that some brands will say that they are “working towards” or “trying to be” more sustainable. These brands are not sustainable. According to Ana Alves, a fashion and beauty writer for The VOU, you also have to watch out for brands that greenwash. This is a term used to describe when a company claims to be sustainable and to have sustainable certification but doesn’t. Check out Ana Alves’s article to learn how to figure out if a brand is greenwashing. There is also a great website called Good On You that has sustainability tips and recommends sustainable clothing brands. In addition, it rates brands based on sustainability.
Photo by Isabella Russo
Photo by Isabella Russo
RESEARCH, SHARE, AND SUPPORT!
One of the best ways to help sustainable fashion flourish is to spread awareness. Do your own research and share it! Also, support sustainable businesses. There are so many sustainable fashion brands on the rise, they just need to be discovered and supported. If you find a brand that you love, please show them support by sharing them with your friends, supporting their social media, or if you can, purchasing their products and leaving a review!
SOME PLACES TO SHOP:
Here are some sustainable fashion brands that I thought were most practical for high school students and the everyday person. However, there are so many other cool sustainable brands that are worth checking out! (I didn’t include them because they fell into the luxury and high fashion category, refer to the section below to see a few)
Askel - Essentials
Patagonia - Outdoor Attire
Levis - Denim
Brother Vellies - Footwear
Save The Duck - Outerwear
EXTRA: REALLY COOL LUXURY/HIGH-END BRANDS
CAALO - Outerwear