The clothes you’re wearing right now tell a story. Do me a favour, take your top and turn the hem over. Look at the seams. Another human’s hands have touched those. If they could talk what would they say? How would they describe the conditions they were produced under? What would they say about the person who created them? About their pay or rights? How about the fabric, where does it come from? How has dye that’s been used impacted the local environment?
What story do your clothes tell?
I’ve noticed more and more of you seem to be taking an interest in the story behind the clothes you wear.
You may be familiar with the term ‘fast fashion’. It refers to the speed at which many high street brands churn out clothing ranges.
In fact, fashion is so fast and cheap, you can now buy clothes for less than the price of a fast food meal.
The natural alternative to shopping with fast fashion brands is to seek what are often referred to as sustainable or ethical fashion brands. But if you’re used to shopping on the high street and spending so little, to some, ethical brands can appear expensive. Buying from ethical brands is great, but it isn’t the only way to build a sustainable wardrobe, particularly if you’re on a tight budget.
In this post I’m highlighting a variety of different actions you can take to make your wardrobe more sustainable.
01 | Take care of your clothes – so you can wear them for longer instead of replacing them. So many people I’ve come across are used to just chucking their clothes on the bed or even the floor when they get home from work or in from a day out. Give your clothes the care and love they deserve and they will give you plenty of wear. So fold your clothes and put them away or hang them up when you’ve finished wearing them. Follow the care instructions on the label and take a little bit of time to understand about different fabrics so you can reduce the impact of everyday wear and tear. Taking care of your clothes will give you longevity which means they won’t end up on landfill in three months time.
02 | Shop less often – buy less often and consider your purchases carefully. Often people buy things on a whim because they’re cheap and easy so it doesn’t matter if it’s going to be a stopgap and only serves you for one occasion. Think how often you do this. Wedding, buy something new. Holiday, buy something new. Friend’s birthday, buy something new. You end up with a wardrobe full of clothes that never really give you that warm fuzzy feeling inside because they were always intended to be worn for ‘that occasion’.
This is the wrong way to approach your wardrobe. If you’re not going to wear it long term don’t buy it. When you do buy, look for pieces that are high quality and will slot into your wardrobe and work with the other pieces you already have in there. This approach to your wardrobe will offer more variety and feature individual pieces that can then be combined in the number of ways to create a range of unique outfits.
03 | Buy less – as well as buying less, buy better quality clothes. Higher quality pieces will last longer meaning you won’t have to replace them as often. If you give them a bit of love and care, (see point 1), you can end up with clothes hanging in your wardrobe that are a decade old and still cool AF.
It is worth noting that luxury brands can sometimes use fabrics that are delicate and well, luxury. This means they won’t stand up well to the brunt of daily wear. So be careful with this. High quality items don’t have to be super expensive.
04 | Shop second hand – in second-hand or vintage stores, there are so many popping up right now. Clothing exchanges have even started appearing were you can take clothes you no longer want and swap them with others. This is a fantastic way of recycling clothes and rejuvenating your wardrobe. Shopping second hand or vintage can be time consuming, but sites like eBay or the Depop app allow you to search or filter results, which means you can find those perfect shoes quickly. Depop is actually a great place to find higher quality brands for really reasonable prices, often with little wear and tear. All these options are a great way of finding new clothes, while saving money and preventing more clothing ending up on landfill.
05 | Buy from ethical brands – you may think ethical brands are more expensive than the high street. But in most cases they’re comparable with what I would like to say is the middle tier of the high street. So think brands like Ted Baker, Reiss, All Saints, Whistles etc. If you’re buying less they can be affordable. Aside from ethical brands look for small independent shops and designers where they make their own clothes. The t-shirt in my photos is from my cousin’s first menswear collection. Shopping this way, you know exactly where your clothes come from and who put them together.
Fast fashion is pretty crazy right now. But the industry won’t change until people vote with their feet. That means buying less, buying better quality, and asking companies to be more transparent about their supply chain. By taking even the smallest of steps to make your wardrobe more sustainable you can help place more pressure on the industry which will hopefully lead to change.
Tell me how you’ve made your wardrobe more sustainable in the comments below.