Want your fashion to be ethical and responsible without compromising your personal style? We feel you. That’s what we’re all about too 🙂 . Responsibility lies in the hands of the consumers, so let’s get on that. Although purchasing clothing is inherently not a sustainable act, trying to reduce the frequency at which we buy new articles of clothing is a fantastic step towards changing the current “fast fashion” industry. Here are some tips on how to become a more ethical fashionista:
1. Inform yourself about the fashion industry. It’s easy (and sometimes just plain habit) to be blinded by trendy clothes at very affordable prices, especially when you are a “starving artist”, such as myself. But always remember that fashion is one of the most exploitative industries in the world. Oftentimes, behind that cheap price, is a terrible cost: child labour, workers with 18-hour work days, unfair wages, environmental harm, etc. For eye-opening information about the current state of the industry, watch The True Cost (available on Netflix). Sadly, the norm in the fashion industry is exploitation and putting blinders on won’t correct the situation. We need to address the issue head-on. Talking about a problem without offering up a solution is useless, so here are some solutions, because fortunately, there is something we can do about it. Read along my dearies! 🙂
2. Carefully select the stores where you shop. How many of us are picky when it comes to selecting a partner? Try applying that same pickiness when it comes to spending your hard-earned money on clothing. Take the time to know where everything you purchase comes from. You’ll feel like less of an asshole. Favour brands that are sweatshop-free, local, fair-trade and ethical. Don’t know of any? We’ve got you covered!
3. When shopping in a store that isn’t known to be sweatshop-free, ethical or fair-trade, ask the store clerks and/or manager if they have a fair-trade section, organic materials, etc. Every time you assert your belief and wants, you send a clear and direct message to the store, which is bound to one day make its way up to top direction. After all, fashion companies are businesses and in order to survive, they must adapt to what their clients’ want, or they will lose them.
4. Shop smarter. When scoping out a prospective item, ask yourself if you would wear this item 30 times or more. If not, you may want to reconsider buying it. This is a great way to make your shopping more intentional and more intelligent. Buy higher quality items that will last longer, and mend things when they fall apart.
5. Avoid harsh chemicals. Did you know that fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry (the first being oil). Did you know that, even though they are toxic, azodyes are the most used synthetic dye. As part of Greenpeace’s Detox programme, some big fashion brands have committed to phase out these azodyes. Click here to see the list.
6. Don’t get stuck in the cycles and novelty that comes with them. One would think that fashion stores would have 4 cycles (one for each season), but no. Instead, some companies have anywhere between 50-100 “micro-seasons”. This means that every 4-8 days, companies are receiving new items.
7. Participate in or organize clothing swaps. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Swaps may be organized by friends or even universities. For example, many moons ago, I attended a clothing swap organized by my university, where I left with 2 “designer” items (Lacoste + Miss Sixty) worth about 500$ in total for 5 dollars in total. Just make sure to give your new items a good wash and cha-ching! Other ways of recycling your clothes include donating or resellling. This ensures they don’t end up in landfills.
8. Wash your clothes in colder water and line (or at least tumble) dry.
9. When all else fails, start sewing! Just joking, but not really! If you have the time and motivation to learn sewing, why not? You will be that much prouder to wear the clothes you made with love. Make sure to select ethical and organic fabrics if possible! 🙂
Whatever you decide, minimize your long-term impact on the world by buying less, buying quality, buying classic and asking yourself the eternal question, “Do I really need this?”
Easier said than done, we know.
And there you have it 🙂 Being a good fashionista needn’t be difficult! 🙂