I’ve wanted to post about this for a while but hesitated because it’s such a vast topic and something we are all trying to learn and figure out (also learning the truth about fast fashion is really quite terrifying and who can blame people for wanting to stick their heads in the sand). So I went off and did a little more research on the subject and realised two things. First that a lot of it isn’t black and white and second, that being more sustainable in a fashion sense was largely a mindset. The good news it there are simple things everyone can do. I will break it down into simple tips but on the whole it’s about rethinking our whole approach to fashion, shopping and style. I’m proud to say that we (The Art of Style) have always been of the “less is more” philosophy; seeking out quality items that will stand the test of time has always been our approach to shopping. We’re not looking for a pat on the back here or anything but I suppose the point is that developing style, in a lasting way that is simple to maintain, often involves a more mindful “less is more” approach.
One of the tricky obstackles to a more minimal life is the constant pressure of social media. “Influencers”, advertising, never ending sales and special offers are all there to entice us and can sometimes make us feel that we need more “new” stuff. People with seemingly “perfect” lives and outfits can make us feel sadly lacking (if you ever feel like this turn off social media and step away from the phone!) On the plus side, social media can be a wonderful place to learn about living a more sustainable life (@sustainablefashiondublin is great for inspiration and tips on this topic).
With all that said, here are our tips on how to have a more sustainabe approach to fashion and personal style (bear in mind you don’t have to do eveything, but even small changes will have a positive impact):
Make the most of your wardrobe
This really is the first step. Most of us have a wardrobe full of outfits that we have never worn. There’s a phrase we often use, “Shop your wardrobe” which basically means looking at your wardrobe with fresh eyes. Any items that rarely get worn could be given a fresh lease of life but looking at it in a new way (“Could I wear this casually?”) or styling it with something different. Making the most of your wardrobe also means caring for your clothes (there’s probably another post there) including getting things repaired or alterered if necessary, because the longer we keep clothes the less will end up in landfill.
Buy less but buy better
The fashion industry knows they have to make changes. They have no choice. If every consumer on the planet started to shop differently simply by buying less, imagine the impact that would have on fashion retail. If the demand slows down, so will production. The truth is that most have us have way more clothes than we really need. By simple asking yourself “Will I wear this in five years?” you start to view clothing in a different way. Higher quality clothing wears better, last longer and helps to “slow” fashion down.
I know this isn’t as easy as walking into your favourite high-street retailer and picking items out with a choice of sizes. However, when you do find a great item second-hand it’s honestly such a buzz, particularly if it’s a designer or vintage find. A few tips to start you off: charity shops in fancy areas tend to have nicer stuff, consignment stores can be great and tend to have bigger name brands (such as Naphisa in Cork), online there is eBay and Depop where you can sell your clothes too. For designer clothing Vestiare Collective is well work checking out as they have a huge amount of stock from all over the world. I came across an interesting prediction that fashion will become “circular” by 2025! Hard to imagine but we shall see…
Swap or borrow
Doesn’t need much explanation. Perhaps organise a get together with friends and family. Especially useful for nights out or dressy occasions as this type of clothing is often rarely worn (and often expensive). Keep your eye out for local clothes swapping events (try Facebook groups), these can be great because no money changes hands.
If you have an item that you love the colour of or the fabric is lovely think about the potential to turn it into something else (the Zipyard are great at this). This way you are also creating something that is unique.
Know your fabrics
This really needs a separate post as there is so much to consider from the amount of water used, if dying is involved, how it’s produced and what happens at the end of it’s life! So again, not black and white. The best thing is to have a read up yourself, there is loads of information available online. Here’s a good link to check out https://goodonyou.eco/most-sustainable-fabrics/
Get familiar with sustainable brands
Again this isn’t as simple as one high-street retailer being better than another. What I have learnt that any brand that produces high volumes of clothing cannot be sustainable. Paying more for an item also doesn’t mean it’s more ethically produced than a cheaper item! Confusing I know! The website I linked to above goodonyou.eco is a great resource and also has an app where you can look up any brand to get their rating on how sustainble they are and why.
So there you have it. Like I said it’s a huge topic and can feel daunting trying to figure it all out but as Emma Watson says “As consumers we have so much power to change the world just by being careful what we buy.”