Sustainable fashion is in my blood now, but it hasn't always been. I've shopped from Supré. I've ducked into Kmart for a quick essential. I've been lured into Zara for a last-minute glitzy weekend number. I've even rummaged through the sale racks at H&M and enjoyed it.
I've bought fast fashion in the past. No one is perfect. But when I started to learn about the impacts of fast fashion, modern slave labour, and the environmental devastation that throwaway clothes are responsible for - I put myself on a fast fashion diet. As I always say, 'Once you know, you can't un-know', and when I went down my research rabbit hole, it was way too deep to come back from. At the bottom of that research hole, I decided to be more conscious, to have a positive impact, and to make better choices, but it's been a constant journey - and not always an easy one.
If you're new to the ethical and sustainable fashion conversation, I want to empower you to know that you can make a difference. I also want to remind you that we all start somewhere, and it's never too late to change your wardrobe habits. It doesn't matter if you've only just heard the term 'sustainable fashion' for the first time; you're heading in the right direction just by reading this post and becoming more aware.
Understanding sustainable fashion can be overwhelming; I get it. Sometimes you don't know where to start or what brand to believe, and when every second research project touts a different fabric as the newest and most sustainable, it's hard knowing what's sustainable and what isn't.
So, I wanted to share my top five tips to help make sustainable shopping a little less complicated. They're the pillars I use as a conscious consumer, and they're easy to remember too...
Reducing your fashion impact starts with reducing how much you buy. I used to buy a new outfit every time I went out or had an event, and that's just bonkers. Not only is it expensive, but it's wasteful. The key is buying only what you really need and investing a little more in quality clothing so that it lasts. Ditch the trends and create your own style instead of following the crowd. Opt for pieces you'll love next week, next season, and next year instead of the quick-fix cheap impulse buys that will fall apart after three washes.
Some of my favourite wardrobe staples aren't even mine! I own them now, but I've gathered them over the years by swapping with friends and reusing pieces that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. Hosting wardrobe swap parties with your gal pals is free, and you'll clear out the pieces you no longer love and come home with a fresh secondhand wardrobe to play with. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure.
I'm a big lover of op shops and vintage stores, and there's nothing like owning an incredible and unique vintage piece that no one else will ever have. Besides doing something good and supporting a charity when you shop, buying from op shops lightens the load on the fashion system. It's also important to recycle your own wardrobe too, so I stick to a 'one in and one out' rule with op shops. If I'm going to buy something recycled, I have to donate something first.
When something breaks, don't just head out and buy something else to replace it. If it's a small hole, a loose button, a ripped hem or a broken zip, a quick repair will do the trick. If you're not handy with a needle and thread, there are plenty of repairers around, and most dry cleaners offer repairs too.
Before I buy anything, the first thing I do is look into where the garment is made, what materials it's made with, and I research more about the company's ethics and sustainability values. I always opt for natural fabrics over synthetic fabrics because they're more sustainable, and if the tag says 'Made in Bangladesh', I avoid it. You can also follow my easy checklist guide if you're looking for more research tips too.
When you're shopping with a purpose, and you use these five easy tips - reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and research - you have the power to create a positive impact with your wardrobe. You'll also start to love your wardrobe a lot more and spend less time stressing about what to wear.
If you're ready to invest a little more in timeless, ethically made sustainable staples, start your journey here.
The Fashion Advocate x