Sustainability in fashion has been a hot topic over the past few years. With the rise of fast fashion, many questions have been asked about the environmental impact of mass production in the industry. A lot of designers and fashion brands have since turned their attention to more sustainable methods of production, by using washing machines that use less water, for example, or using organic fabric dyes rather than synthetic ones. Similarly, many high street shops now also produce garments made from organic materials and offer ‘sustainable’ product lines. The efforts and steps to promote sustainability in fashion are moving in the right direction. There are also things that consumers can do to work towards a low-waste and more environmentally-friendly way of enjoying fashion.
What Can Consumers Do?
Anyone who is environmentally-conscious may wish to cut back on the amount of clothing they purchase each year or become more aware of the brands that are working towards a more ethical way of producing clothing. Minimising the effects of clothing production on the environment is something which many designers are considering. Other steps that consumers can take to create a wardrobe that is gentler on the environment include:
- Research fashion brands to find those that have a focus on sustainability
- Repair your clothing where possible, rather than discard it
- Host a clothes swap with friends to exchange items you no longer wear
- Shop in second hand or vintage shops
- Donate clothing to charity shops
Some brands in the clothing industry focus their entire collection around sustainability and ethical means of production. It is good to research where clothing is sourced or produced and, if possible, the techniques and fabrics used in production. Consumers can vote with their hard-earned cash, essentially, and support companies that strive towards an ethical and sustainable way of producing clothing.
Reuse and Repair
There is a huge amount of clothing-waste created each year (£140 million worth to be precise) as people throw away dresses, jumpers, jeans, footwear and everything they no longer wear. Rather than simply getting rid of garments, you can opt to repair them, donate them, or perhaps swap them with friends. Clothing repairs can be done by a professional tailor and is often easy enough to do yourself at home. some light stitching can fix a small tear in cotton or wool, for instance, while leather clothes, boots and bags can be fixed easily with simple tricks and some leather glue. Leather garments can be pricey – although it is long-lasting and ages well, leather can tear or break. This can be slightly heartbreaking if you’ve invested in a nice leather piece, and making a quick fix with glue is quite often the best way to ensure your favourite leather jacket or bag can remain happily in your wardrobe for a few years more.
Investing in High-End Clothing
Investing in timeless pieces that will last for years is also a great way to reduce consumption in this industry. Basics such as a white shirt, a black jumper, a trenchcoat, a great pair of jeans or a grey cashmere jumper never go out of style, and there are plenty of tips for an elegant look available that can help you put together a capsule wardrobe with pieces for every season. Investing in designer brands – even when you’re thrifty – is another way to support a more sustainable lifestyle. Designer pieces are generally made from high-end, long-lasting fabrics and will be a wardrobe staple for many years.
The move towards slow and sustainable fashion is a very positive one. Consumers have a huge amount of power to support this movement and can do their part by being informed and remaining conscious of the effects their actions and choices may have in relation to clothing waste and shopping.