The ethical side of fashion has received an increasing amount of attention over the past few years. From fast fashion and production methods to the environmental impact of mass-produced clothing, there are many flaws surfacing in the clothing industry, as was reported in documentaries like The True Cost and Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. After watching these eye-opening documentaries, many consumers are now making more conscious decisions about where they shop and about the shelf-life of their clothing. There has never been a more relevant time to consider your shopping habits and the clothes you invest in. There are a few simple steps you can take to switch to a more sustainable wardrobe.
- Opt for neutral, classic garments as opposed to seasonal trend pieces
- Donate or sell clothing that you no longer wear
- Repair garments rather than letting them sit at the back of the wardrobe unworn
- Choose durable, natural fabrics that will wash well and last a long time
Build a Capsule Wardrobe
Creating a capsule wardrobe with good quality basics such as a white shirt, jeans, a black jumper, plain t-shirts, and long-sleeved tops is a sustainable way to shop for clothing. Basics that can be worn throughout the year and styled in different ways generally have more longevity than seasonal, “trend” pieces and make excellent investments, especially when you opt for good quality fabrics such as cotton, silk and leather.
Donate, Recycle or Repair
Clearing out your wardrobe a couple of times a year is a great way to assess the clothing that you have versus what you actually wear and give it a second life. A study performed by Movinga and reported on Fashion United found that people in the UK don’t wear a shocking 73% of their wardrobes – donate or sell items you no longer wear or only wore once or twice to extend their lifespan, or just free up space in your wardrobe. Likewise, repairing clothing is a great way to hold on to pieces you love even longer. Whether it’s stitching a tear in a jumper, replacing a button or mending a seam, there is great joy to be found in repairing your favourite clothing. Some fabrics are a little trickier to fix, especially leather. It ages very well and leather jackets, bags, and shoes often get better with age, making them extra hard to part with. Using a leather glue is often the easiest option and is the perfect way to fix leather.
Invest in good pieces and research the brands that you purchase from. Shopping ethically and sustainable doesn’t have to be expensive. Opt for high quality, natural fabrics, and garments that will see you through many months of the year. It is also helpful to have neutral colours in your wardrobe to make subtle changes to outfits. If you are sticking to a tight budget, spend carefully and invest in clothing that will last well, and consider how many outfits you can create with a few key pieces.
Creating a wardrobe of items you love and wear often may take some time but is well worth it in the end. Considering that almost three quarters of the items in wardrobe’s across the UK go unworn from one of the year to the next, even small changes such as donating, shopping mindfully, and repairing your favourite items when needed, will help shift the stats towards a more sustainable way of enjoying fashion.