Sustainable Fashion: what’s the answer?

We’ve been thinking about sustainable fashion this month at Norwich Nights Magazine, the fact that the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters and the conversations around this have been happening for a while. How far have we come really and what might be needed moving forward.

One thing is although the world seems keen to point the finger at the fashion industry and our throwaway culture, but let’s take a closer look. We would have considered ourselves to be conscious and doing our best in this area: we have a capsule wardrobe (reducing the number of items we buy), we recycle unwanted items to either the nearest clothing bin or charity shops. But then we started thinking what about buying only what we need? How often do we buy an outfit/dress/shoes for that one event and never wear it again. Do we buy sustainable clothing in the first place? How do we reduce our personal fashion waste?

It was at this point when you realize, it’s a joint effort consumers and fashion producers/retailers need to work together as we all have a choice, in production, purchases, and disposal choices.

Buying local is a great tool in ensuring your choices are more sustainable, let’s face it you buy that top from an online catalogue it was probably made abroad and has clocked up several airmiles before we start on the journey to you, the plastic it’s wrapped in, the outer packaging and labels to allow it to get to you, that all before we even consider what material the top is initially made of or how often we need to buy  new tops.

We have 2 rules that help us with our fashion purchasing:

  1. #30wearrule – no idea where this originated, we read about it in Vogue and as it fits closely with our second rule adopted it immediately – The notion goes before you buy anything you ask yourself would I wear this 30 times (over its life span).
  2. #howdofeel in this – For this rule I imagine how I would feel in that item is it soft, comfortable would I love it, how will I feel in this. Your clothes should make you feel incredible and happy.

Classic example of clothes gone wrong is my blue paisley dress – there’s nothing wrong with it and I like the design – but I feel just awful when I wear it. So off to the charity shop it goes. Clothes are extremely personal what looks great on you doesn’t on everybody else and vice versa – I found this out when on my 18th Birthday another girl who I considered better looking (skinner, prettier, etc) wore the same pink dress as me but to my surprise people didn’t compliment her as they did me.

Your clothes, your choice, your expression.

But the thing is the industry has its role to play too and we can clearly see that they are making good progress (pre-lockdown at least), Sea Salt opened a sustainable store in Norwich for example, there’s several sustainable fashion retailers as well as local retailers dealing preloved clothes which has had a boom since the conversations around sustainability began. Heist’s sustainable underwear and ladder-free tights are highly recommended. Heist is a great example of reasonably priced sustainable products. The problem of price is some brands sell their sustainable products at a high-ticket value such as a top made from oranges that is priced $150.00. Affordability is a huge hurdle for the sustainable fashion industry moving forward. Size is also a hurdle with many of the retailers and manufacturers limiting their collections to 8-16 uk sizes, which excludes all people of non-traditional sizes.

One of the other developing practices is within the larger retailers to release a sustainable collection alongside their main collections, honestly this feels like a non-committal token gesture. Rather than adopting an approach in support of sustainable values. It really is a yes or no area you either believe that fashion should be sustainable or not. It’s sad really, we need our larger brands to lead the way as they are the ones that can invest in new technology to produce clothing more sustainably. While we continue as consumers to make conscious choices with fashion retail.

See below for details of our capsule wardrobe:

Capsule Wardrobe

14 tops

7 pairs of trousers/jeans

2 skirts

2 dresses

2 coats

1 blazer

2 cardigans

3 jumpers

7 pairs shoes/trainers

Resources:

Veja: Official site (veja-store.com)

Patagonia: https://eu.patagonia.com/gb/en/home/

Baukjen: https://www.baukjen.com/

Colorifix: https://colorifix.com

Heist: Shapewear | Shaping Underwear | Heist Studios (heist-studios.com)