When you love fashion as much as I do, it can be very difficult to prioritise ethics over style, fit, convenience and price. But if you can commit to making one or two changes in your fashion shopping habits this year it could make a real difference. 2011 was a big year for the ethical fashion movement with more and more mainstream retailers embracing sustainable ranges and new niche ethical brands starting out. According to fashion supply chain consultancy Made-By, there has been increased co-operation within the industry in having a zero tolerance approach to unethical trade, however it is important that customers, you guys, show your support by buying into these ethical and sustainable ranges.
It is easier than ever to do this, and you can be more sustainable in ways you might not expect, just have a look at these pointers.
If you are happy to shop online there is plenty of choice. Ethical fashion stores like fashion-conscience.com stock a range of ‘seriously stylish, seriously ethical’ fashion from brands such as Fair + True, Jackpot (main picture) and Komodo. Look out for Fairtrade and organic cotton on the High Street too; H&M’s Conscious Collection (below) is available globally for men’s and women’s clothes. For 2012 also look out for increased availability of bamboo, hemp and even soy fibre. Don’t go thinking ethical fashion can’t do high fashion; Fairtrade label People Tree often team up with fashion designers, look out for their Zakee Shariff collaboration for colourful and quirky printed t-shirts this spring.
Buying second-hand thrift items is a win-win situation. You get something that is new to you, a garment has a new leash of life rather than having to produce it from scratch, plus it will save you some pennies. Sites like eBay make it super easy to find exactly what you want; you’d never need to fork out for new clothes again. Vintage trends are here to stay for 2012 so make the most of those thrift shop finds in style. Don’t forget to sell your old clothes on too to earn some extra cash.
Make Do and Mend
Don’t get rid of a piece of clothing because it’s damaged, be imaginative. Jeans too short or torn? Cut off the legs and make a cute pair of hot-pants. Adding mismatched buttons, bows or lace trims jazz up old clothes and make them fit into the ladylike vintage trends. Learning how to sew on buttons, hem a skirt and fix zips will save you lots of money in the long run.
We’re all guilty of washing clothes too often. It just isn’t necessary to wash clothes every time you wear them, especially garments worn away from the body like jumpers and skirts. Only wash clothes when they really need it and wash at 30 degrees to save energy. Line dry outside wherever possible rather than tumble drying.
Are you up for the sustainable fashion challenge?
by Emma Waight
Emma Waight is a PhD student and freelance fashion writer for www.clothes.org.uk