So, you have become aware of the damaging effects of fast fashion and would like to play your part in protecting the planet and its people. Do you now want to live more sustainably through your fashion choices but are not sure where to start? Well, you are in the right place. Let’s dive into defining your own sustainable style without having to overthink it.
Remember that you shouldn’t feel guilty about your clothes, rather, fashion is a space where you may freely express yourself. Fashion is subjective, and can be a way for you to explore your identity and sustainability in a way that best suits you!
No matter how someone practices sustainable fashion, it is important to always take good care of your clothing and invest in long-term pieces. Quality and condition are large factors in fashion and style, so if you’re washing them according to what the label says (I know some of you don’t! ), you will see a difference in longevity. You will be surprised to see how some pieces become timeless simply because they are well taken care of.
The first, and most obvious choice, is to cut back on consumerism. Simply put, buy less and lead a minimalist lifestyle. According to Mint (2022), “When you live as a minimalist, you strive to only use things that serve a purpose.
It’s about living simply and having only what you need to go about your daily life.” If this speaks to you and is something you are drawn toward, then go for it!
Organizing your belongings is the first step toward minimalism. Once you have everything laid out and categorized you will be able to see what you want to keep and what you are ready to give away. Donating or selling your used garments is a sustainable practice as it allows someone else to enjoy your pre-loved items while preventing them from purchasing brand new ones.
Now, this isn’t to say that minimalism means only having one pair of jeans, and a single T-shirt. It is simply a philosophy on life, of which your fashion choices are a part. What you wear is a part of your creative expression, so it’s okay to invest in a piece that catches your eye every once in a while.
Remember, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Re-use And Upcycling
Another way to practice sustainable fashion is to repurpose what you currently own. This is a great opportunity to be creative by upcycling pieces to better match your current style. If you have a local seamstress or would like to experiment with your own skills, then experiment away and add your own twist to the clothing that you already have! Keep in mind that fashion is subjective, so if there is something you imagine creating, then actualize it. There are no limits. You don’t need to buy something from the store for it to be validated as a trendy and stylish garment.
And of course, a very popular way of reusing is thrifting! It has gained so much popularity thanks to Gen Z, who seems to be driving the growth of consignment and thrift stores. By purchasing pre-worn pieces, you are also preventing them from ending up in a landfill.
You can also look into renting clothing, especially if it is for an occasion where you would only wear a particular outfit once. Check out Beyond The Runway, which has a wide variety of clothing, dresses, and accessories. Their prices are also reasonable, where for instance, a For Love & Lemons dress that costs CA$421.50 retail would only cost CA$80 for a five-day rental.
Invest In Sustainable, Long-Term Pieces
So if you’re not into minimalism and not interested in thrifting, that’s totally fine–just as long as you don’t go overboard with new purchases! Remember, we don’t want to feel guilty about our personal fashion and style. Consider purchasing long-term pieces from sustainable and circular brands, as they are the ones producing new garments while considering environmental and social issues. Some sustainable brands include Reformation, Tentree, and H&M Conscious Collection. If you’re looking for sustainable footwear Allbirds, Sézane, and Vega are some great brands to check out as well.
Keep in mind that we should find a balance between not over-consuming while shopping for new clothing. This is important because ultimately, the solution to protecting the environment will always be to consume less.
Speaking of long-term investments, last autumn I purchased a 100% wool, knitted cardigan that I plan to keep as a staple piece. It was made by sheep farmers in Ireland under the brand Aran Mor. Supporting the cultural practices of these farmers, who have been producing wool products for centuries, has a positive impact on society and is another great way to practice sustainable fashion!
Sustainable fashion may cost you more, but keep in mind that good-quality garments look more sophisticated than a fast-fashion piece made of a plastic-based material.
Written by Alexandra Petros