Over the past couple of years, sustainable fashion has gone mainstream thanks to the raised consciousness of what mindless consumerism does to our planet.
What Is Sustainable Fashion?
The meaning of sustainable fashion comes from the cultural shift towards more eco-friendly and socially responsible ways of both manufacturing and purchasing apparel.
For designers, fashion and sustainability mean sourcing environment-friendly materials and paying fair wages. For shoppers, it means being more mindful of where you spend your money and which fashion brands you choose to support.
So, instead of supporting fast fashion brands that make cheap clothes that get thrown straight into landfills, you would purchase sustainable clothing that is ethically-sourced and made with eco-friendly or recycled materials.
Why Is Sustainable Fashion Important?
According to an article on sustainable fashion by the San Francisco Sustainable Fashion Week, fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry and the second-dirtiest in the world due to overproduction and over-consumption.
We consume 80 billion pieces of clothing a month, much of which contain harmful dyes, toxins and pesticides. The fashion industry also uses a huge amount of water, says the article.
How Can The Fashion Industry Be More Sustainable?
The most important way is by encouraging consumers to consume less and conserve more. That means not shopping for new clothes all the time and finding creative ways to reuse and recycle old clothes.
It also means using ethically-sourced and sustainable fabrics that are biodegradable, and recycling the immense waste material left over from the manufacture of new clothes.
6 Ways to Make More Sustainable Fashion Choices
Learn 6 sustainable fashion tips and ideas to reuse and recycle clothes, and choose sustainable clothing for an eco-friendly and mindful lifestyle.
1. Depend on your current closet
Undoubtedly, the most sustainable way to dress is by wearing what you already own. Before you go out and buy a new piece, take the time to clean out your own closet – you may be surprised what you find in there.
Most women have far more clothes than they actually wear, which makes it easy to start giving life to older pieces. What’s more, as trends tend to come and go, you may find something that you’ve had for years that is currently very trendy.
That said, if you are committed to changing your relationship with shopping and clothes, you may want to consider creating a capsule wardrobe – a small curated collection of versatile items that you love wearing.
Each season, you can curate your wardrobe to include a set number of pieces (around 37) that you will wear in different combinations.
Over time, your capsule wardrobe will become more refined until you only have items you love styling and wear often, as well as a couple of new, sustainable items that you can shop for once a season.
2. Hold a clothes swap
After shopping your own closet, the next most sustainable option is to trade clothes, and you can do this by holding (or attending) a clothing swap.
At this event, all participants will bring a certain amount of clothes that they no longer use which they can exchange for items that they will use.
Not only are these swaps a fantastic way to bring new clothes into your wardrobe (while also removing some), but they are also recognized as an act of environmentalism.
If you’re looking to host your own clothing swap, start by setting a date, time, and location and reaching out to your friends.
On the invitation, make sure to provide detailed instructions. Explain that attendees should bring any clothing or accessory item that is in good condition but that they don’t wear enough – no matter the reason.
Generally, two hours is a reasonable amount of time, and you can even ask each attendee to bring a beverage or food item that people can enjoy while perusing.
On the day of the event, set up an area where all the clothes can be housed and then allow guests to “window shop” for the first 30 minutes so they can get accustomed to the layout.
After this period, remind attendees that they can choose to take as many pieces as they brought to the clothes swap and encourage them to try something new.
3. Develop the thrifting bug
Thanks to society’s over-consumption, there are millions of clothing items that are already in existence, yet lacking a loving owner. You can find many of these pieces in your local thrift and vintage stores.
Shopping these pre-worn items helps to save them from going straight to the landfill, not to mention prices are usually lower than what you would pay in any other store (even cheap, fast-fashion retailers).
This means you can get “new to your wardrobe” items at prices that are good for your bank account.
Also, one of the best parts about thrifting and vintage shopping is that you never know what you’re going to find. Shopping in these kinds of stores is a surefire way of finding pieces that are different from what everyone else is wearing.
And, who doesn’t want to have their own unique style, especially when it is sourced sustainably?
4. Browse resale sites
If you’re interested in tapping into the second-hand market but don’t like the idea of scouring through items in real life, or you’re looking for something more high-end, then a resale site is what you want, you can shop for clothing on resale stores.
As with thrifting, shopping on resale sites gives clothing a new life. Being conscious about choosing to purchase used over new whenever possible helps to make small changes in an industry that is overproducing.
5. Rent special pieces
One of the best ways to start making more sustainable fashion choices is to ask yourself whether or not you will wear an item 30 times.
If the answer is yes, that means it is a versatile piece and could be an excellent addition to your closet. If the answer is no, then it isn’t a very sustainable choice.
For many women, it is a habit to buy a new dress or jumpsuit for every event. However, if you’re only going to wear a piece once or twice, you’re better off taking advantage of clothes renting services.
By opting to rent clothes, you are choosing to have access to an enormous closet of clothes without the cost (both financial and environmental) of ownership.
Renting clothes allows you to have new clothes in your repertoire, while also helping you to stay on budget and to reduce closet clutter.
These services are particularly useful if you are looking for a gorgeous evening gown, wedding-appropriate look, or something else for a one-off occasion.
6. Shop sustainable fashion brands
To make more sustainable fashion choices, you don’t have to ban yourself from shopping forever. Instead, you want to opt to support sustainable fashion designers and sustainable fashion brands that align with your values.
This means choosing to purchase sustainable dresses from designers who are also passionate about sustainability in the fashion industry and are pushing the boundaries within this space.
There are a growing number of sustainable fashion brands and sustainable fashion designers in India, so choosing sustainable clothing brands is no longer difficult or only for the elite.
Luxury e-commerce sites are demonstrating their commitment to sustainable fashion in India by curating sections on their website that feature sustainable fabrics.
Steps like this demonstrate a significant dedication to highlight and showcase sustainable clothing brands and sustainable clothing stores.
When you’re looking to purchase new pieces, you also want to pay attention to the materials from which items are made.
Opt for organic, sustainable clothing pieces that are made from sustainable fabrics such as silk and textiles such as bamboo, which have less of a harmful environmental impact.
What do you think about sustainability in the fashion industry? Is it important to you? What steps are you taking to make your closet a little more eco-friendly?
Are you interested in sustainable fashion in India? Let us know your thoughts and any experiences in the comments below.
Lamia Dahmash is a stylist and fashion blogger at Farfetch. She is always one step ahead of trends and known for perfectly coupling eclectic and minimalist styles. Feel free to follow Lamia (@luludahmash) on Instagram to get a feel of her style and different fashion tips and tricks.
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