We all have a relationship with clothes. Some choose to create them, some choose to experiment with them, some express themselves with them, while others stick to their basic function of covering them up with little care as to how it looks. Truth is whether we enjoy fashion or not, we all wear clothes. Today, we live in a generation of individuality and fashion is self-expression. However, we are also a generation of excess. Clothes have become like disposable cups: buy now, wear once (or never), then buy the next trend and on and on it goes. We’ve normalised our addiction to clothes to the point of turning it into one of the most polluting and harmful industries on the planet.
I started changing my relationship to clothes in 2016 and went from fast fashion addict to fair fashion advocate. I always say if I can do it, anyone can! I am passionate about sharing tips and practices I set in place to transform my relationship to fashion to one that empowers the people who make our clothes and helps preserve the planet. Most importantly, I have fun with sustainable and ethical fashion.
Here are 5 easy ways you too can start your sustainable fashion journey:
1. Rediscover your closet for one month (or three) without buying anything new
After I watched the documentary The True Cost, I knew I needed to change my fashion habits. I needed a clothes detox, so I stopped shopping for 3 months and rediscovered my closet in a way I had never thought possible. Turns out since I was a fast fashion addict, I had plenty of clothes I never really wore. By not shopping for that long, I was forced to see my closet differently and get creative! Honestly, I had enough clothes to clothe an entire village! You don’t have to stop shopping for three months like I did, it really depends on how many clothes you have but do set a period of time where you don’t shop that is challenging for you and see how creative you become with your closet. A recent survey by Weight Watchers has estimated that shoppers in the UK own £10bn worth of clothes they do not wear. For most of us, our closets hold secret treasures we have yet to explore.
2. Practice #30wears: wear one versatile piece you own in 30 different ways
The concept of #30wears is big in the sustainable fashion community. It’s a way to counteract the throw away culture we live in. By wearing one piece of clothing 30 times or more you learn to take care of what you have, appreciate it and get creative with singular clothing items. It helps eliminate the false narrative that we don’t have anything to wear or need to get something new for every occasion. Imagine having a smaller, more stylish closet with pieces you can wear 30 ways or more! Now, that’s real style.
"Imagine having a smaller, more stylish closet with pieces you can wear 30 ways or more! Now, that’s real style."
3. Go to clothe swaps
What if I told you, you could get new clothes without spending a penny? Well you can, by swapping your clothes. Swapping is the concept of sharing and switching clothes, either with family and friends or at swapping events. You simply search your closet for still wearable clothes that you don’t wear anymore and trade with someone else’s still wearable clothes they don’t wear anymore and voilà you have new clothes! My favourite clothes swaps in London are organised by Stories behind things, where I always find great pieces. What I especially love about clothes swapping is that I’m never adding to my closet but rather trimming it down to what I need, as I always make sure to take more to swap than I take back with me. It’s also a fab way to shop socially and get real life tips from people who’ve actually worn the clothes for a long time.
4. Second-hand is great for your wallet
Sustainable and ethical brands are not cheap even though they are a worthwhile investment. If the prices are too steep for you, I would recommend going second-hand or vintage. Find your local vintage and charity shops and hunt for cheap quality clothes. Charity/second-hand shops are great for quick, cheap basic finds that won’t break the bank. Vintage shops are a goldmine for unique branded and well-preserved pieces that no one else is likely to have. You can build a closet that will not look like anyone else’s. Aside from great prices and a unique closet, you’ll be fuelling your local economy and contributing to creating a circular fashion economy. You can find a list of the best second hand places in London here.
5. Educate yourself on the issue and support fair fashion brands
Watching the documentary, The True Cost led me on this path. It educated me and informed me about the gravity of the fast fashion issue and sparked a fire in me to make a change. I believe that the more we learn the more powerful we become to act. As consumers there is so much we can do and one of the biggest steps we can take is support and buy from sustainable and ethical brands that are fuelling the fair fashion economy. These brands are creating fashion the right way: treating garment workers with dignity, paying them correctly and using materials and processes that are good for the planet. You can find a list of some of these brands here. An easy way to assess brands is through Good on you, an app endorsed by Emma Watson that tells customers which brands are sustainable and ethical or not, helping guide your purchase decisions.
The journey is just beginning, there's more for you to discover:
More tips here
More amazing brands here
Style inspirations here
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