Last week I wrote about Fast Fashion and the negative impact it can have on the environment, our health and the lives of people around the globe. But how can we help? How can we become better consumers and how will any of what we do make a difference?
In 2013, the Rana plaza building in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing over 1138 people and injuring another 2500. The victims were mostly young women. This was not caused by an earthquake, tornado, or crazy act of nature. The building collapsed after the owners ignored the warnings that the building was unsafe. In fact, architects had originally warned that the building was not constructed to bear the weight of factory machinery. These warnings were overlooked and instead multiple garment factories were operated inside this building.
It was this tragedy that sparked the formation of a group called the Fashion Revolution. Their mission is to “unite people and organizations to work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way”. The Fashion Revolution promotes awareness of the industry’s biggest issues and encourages fashion companies to be transparent about how they manufacture clothing and also to improve their methods. They inspire us all to pay more attention to the companies we are buying our clothing from and to care about who made our clothes.
So where do we begin? How cam we make a difference? Here are my thoughts on some first steps we can take to become smarter consumers and avoid “buying” into the fast fashion craze, while still looking great!
First, we can simply buy less clothing. As a recovering shopaholic, this is something I’m already trying to do and now I have another great reason to pursue this.
Jen from the The Sustainable Edit blog wrote:
“The most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already have”
I know that I already have a closet full of beautiful clothing to wear and likely you do too. Last year I did a massive “clean out” of my closet and ended up with a wardrobe that I loved. As I head back into the Fall and Winter seasons, I really need to take a good look at what I already own. There is nothing wrong with wanting to update some items and add some new pieces, but I need to be mindful about what I purchase. I need to carefully decide what I want to buy and stick to my plan. Buying less leads to reduced waste since a less stuffed, well organized closet means I won’t feel the need to purge and discard items so often.
Another major way to cut down on fashion waste, avoid Fast Fashion, and add new clothing items to your warddrobe is to buy clothing from consignment and thrift stores. What better way to help the environment that to keep re-using what already exists? Get rid of any old negative images you may have about second-hand clothes. I personally have sold many clothing items and designers handbags to consignment shops that were in great condition....I just never wore them anymore and needed room in my closet. The internet is filled with used clothing sites where you can find top brands for great prices. These online stores provide detailed photos and descriptions. They list the condition of the items (from new with tags to gently worn) and give necessary sizing measurements. If you are on a budget, these stores are a great way to be able to purchase quality clothing at a low cost. Two sites that I have used and can recommend are:
Sells clothing, handbags, and shoes for women and children. They carry a wide variety of brands including some premium designer brands.
Sells high-end designer pre-owned clothing. This past Spring, I purchased a “like new” Missoni dress for $125 and also a “New With Tag” pair of trendy Rayban sunglasses for $85.
Other similar online consignment sites that I would recommend and will look into using myself are:
This site seems very similar to ThredUp, but also sells items for men as well as children’s toys.
This is another re-sale site that carries designer items. I browsed this site and was impressed with what I saw. There were many gorgeous vintage designer shoes, bags, and clothing. In fact, I have my eye on a vintage Chanel jacket from the 1990’s that is in excellent condition (because when clothing is made well it lasts a long time).
Material World https://www.materialworld.co
Again, this is a designer re-sale site, but with a twist. It operates similar to the popular Stitch Fix except with pre-loved designer clothing and accessories. Just like Stitch Fix, you fill out a style profile and pay a $25 styling fee. Your assigned stylist will send you five pre-owned designer pieces based on your preferences. The fee is deducted off your total if you decide to make a purchase. I have always enjoyed using Stitch Fix since it is fun to have a stylist surprise me with a box of clothing. With Material World, I can still have that experience while helping to reduce waste by the re-use of well-made clothing.
RENT THE RUNWAY www.renttherunway.com
This is a rental clothing company for high quality, designer brands. I love the fact that they offer many brands that I love (like Theory, Tory Burch, and Rebecca Taylor to name just a few). By renting clothing you will always have something new to wear without spending a fortune and your closet will not become overstuffed as you are continually rotating clothes in and out. I originally thought Rent The Runway only carried dressy items you would wear to a wedding or fancy event, but this is not the case. Yes, of course, they have a large selection of dresses, but they also have shorts, jeans, tops, sweaters, coats, jackets, jewelry and handbags. There are several monthly plans that Rent The Runway offers depending on your needs.
There are so many more online consignment and clothing rental stores, including Poshmark, Ebay, Armoire, and Rebagg. Just do a search in Google and you will find many websites to explore.
What if you can’t find what you are looking for with pre-owned clothing or your existing closet? What if you just want to buy something new? First and foremost, avoid purchasing those inexpensive, poorly made Fast Fashion clothing items. As I mentioned in last weeks post, Fast Fashion clothing is cheap for a reason and the reasons involve the mistreatment of humans and our environment. If more people stop purchasing these items then the companies that make them will have no choice but to change.
Instead, invest in higher quality clothing. Yes, you may need to pay more, but it is far better to buy an item of clothing that is made with higher quality material and manufactured with higher quality standards since you know it will last for a long time - probably longer than you’ll want it. And when you get tired of it you can sell or donate it so someone else can enjoy it. Don’t confuse high quality clothing with designer clothing. Sure, most designer clothing is great quality, but there are many non-designer affordable brands that offer excellent quality too. And, as I’ll get to shortly, there are many stylish ethical sustainable clothing brands in all price ranges.
Now that we know about the negative effects of the fashion industry, how can we find out which fashion companies care about providing fair wages and reducing environmental waste? How can we know which are the best brands to shop? After all, the tags on our clothes may tell us the fabric content and which country it was made in, but that is not enough information.
In truth, it is not always easy to determine how environmentally conscious a company is or if their clothing items are made in factories where employees get fair wages and are treated well. However, because of groups like the Fashion Revolution, more pressure is being place on the fashion industry to become more transparent about their practices.
There are a few ways you can shop for new clothing more responsibly. Take the time to do your research about a brand before purchasing. Check to see if their website offers any information about where they manufacture their clothing or call/email the company. Yes, this can take time, but as overshoppers, taking a "Pause" before purchasing can be highly beneficial....let your research be your pause.
We live in a day and age where there is an "app" to help with practically everything , so it should be no surprise that there is actually an app you can download that “ethically” rates various fashion brands. To use the app you simply type in the name of a brand and the app provides you with accessible information about the company’s true practices when it comes to environmental protections, labour rights and animal welfare. Over 1000 fashion brands are currently rated in this app. Not every fashion label brand is listed, but more brands are continually being researched and added. I was very surprised (and sad) to see many of the current brands that I love only get a 2 star rating! Although disappointing, it has motivated me to seek out new sustainable brands that I can trust. To get more information on this app visit www.goodonyou.eco
If you determine your current favorite brands are not ethically where you would like them to be, then you should know there are many sustainable clothing brands out there. One website that I highly recommend called www.thegoodtrade.com. contains various information about Fair Trade, Ethical and Sustainable clothing, accessories, beauty products and other conscious lifestyle information.
Two articles from this website that will provide a start on finding new fashion brands to shop are:
35 Fair Trade & Ethical Clothing Brands Betting Against Fast Fashion
11 Best Affordable Brands For Ethical Fashion On A Budget
I am new to the concept of sustainable clothing, but I have purchased clothing from www.Amourvert.com and would highly recommend them. They offer stylish, high quality clothing and are very transparent about their supply chains, distribution, and environmental impact. They are in the running for being one of my new Go-To brands that I can feel good about! Additionally, I found two sustainable fashion bloggers that I would recommend. Each of them offers information and links to many stylish, ethical brands.
The Sustainable Edit http://www.thesustainableedit.com
Season + Salt https://www.seasons-and-salt.com
I have to admit that I am excited to have found these sustainable clothing brands through the links I’ve listed above. I’ve already browsed many of these websites and am currently putting together a “mindful” list of items I want to purchase. Knowing that I can be compulsive (especially with online shopping), I am taking my time thinking about the new items I want to add to my wardrobe. The overshopper in me wants to go out and purchase a completely new sustainable wardrobe, so I need to be careful as I explore all these new fashion brands!
I have included a lot of information in this post, but this is just the beginning. We need to start somewhere and each of us can make a difference. Even if you only take one of my suggestions it will have an impact. We, as consumers, have the power to demand more from the fashion industry. As for myself, I plan to continue becoming more educated about the clothes I buy even if need to stop buying clothes from certain brands and stores that I currently love.
If you would like more information about what the Fashion Revolution is doing and what more you can do to help, then please visit www.fashionrevolution.org