If you are reading this, then you have probably been thinking about how you ‘clean up’ your shopping habits in the fashion department for a while and wondering how on earth you start to navigate the mine field of building an ethical wardrobe whilst still staying true to your style.
It wasn’t that long ago that the terms “hemp nightmare” and “granola” were associated with ethical fashion, but fast forward to today, and we are looking at a very different and quickly evolving landscape.
You’ve probably heard that fashion is one of the biggest contributors to industrial pollution, but did you know that the fast fashion industry is worth $2.1bn a year in Australia, and is growing by 11% annually? Not only that, but it’s been reported that Australians discard 23kg of clothing per capita every year equalling six tonnes of textile waste going to landfill every 10 minutes!
So what you can you do? You love fashion and you want to save the planet. Well we’ve put together a few simple tried and tested ways to help you build your ethical wardrobe:
SHOP YOUR WARDROBE
If you have the luxury of affording a stylist, we highly recommend one. A stylist can assist you with sorting through your current wardrobe, and help you really nail what is missing whilst identifying what you don’t wear so you are not constantly buying clothes with no real purpose.
Reportedly, we only wear 20% of our wardrobe while the other 80% sits there gathering dust – what a waste!
We recommend our dear friend Alex from Op Shop To Runway (she has all the creds; she has worked on Television Programs such as The Bachelor, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Home and Away, and The Voice) and offers services such as a Wardrobe Edit, Wardrobe Cleanse and Personal Shopping. She has a knack for putting looks together that just work, not to mention you’ll be tapping into her encyclopaedic knowledge of every decent Op Shop in Australia!
If you can’t afford a stylist, ask a stylish friend to come over and help you cull and re-imagine your wardrobe with you.
We’ve come a long way in terms of ethical fashion and there are some stellar designers pioneering not just ethical manufacturing but also new plant-based fabrics such as Lyocel, Soybean fibre fabric, Tencel and Pineapple Leather. These new fabrics are arguably changing the way fashion brands are designing.
Of course, natural fibres such as organic cotton, linen, flax and hemp are some of the healthiest fibres you can put against your skin.
One of the reasons we chose to use organic cotton in our underwear was because it allows the skin to breath and absorbs excess moisture. Throughout the year especially in times of high humidity (lets face it Australia always feels humid) its even more important because itching, yeast infections and excess odour occur more frequently when its humid. Natural is always best!
RE-USE & RECYCLE
If you have a wardrobe full of suits you don’t wear, then there is a wonderful organisation called Dress for Success that are always on the hunt for donations of suits and work attire to help women get back into the workforce. A brilliant cause and a great way of finding a new life for your clothes.
If you want to make some money back from your wardrobe (and reinvest) then there are plenty of resell platforms. Depending on what you are selling should depend on where you sell, but we especially love DePop, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace (and all the private pages that sell clothes) The Real Real, Vestiare, and Bagista for selling designer wares.
With the rise of consciousness for the environment, so is the rise of fashion brands proclaiming words like sustainability, organic and ethical. Word to the wise – really research the ethics of a brand before just believing the claims immediately. There can be quite a bit of green washing and you want to make sure you are supporting a brand that is genuinely doing the right thing.
It’s not just about ethical fibres, but also about the conditions in which the workers are in, fair wages, exposure to toxins (like dyes) which is why certifications like Fairtrade and GOTS give you a level of comfort that these standards are being met.
If you want to shop by your values – then Well Made Clothes is a beautiful curated store of ethical fashion brands.
SHOP SECOND HAND
The ick factor of buying second hand is hardly there anymore! Buying second hand clothing, shoes and bags can be super fun for the hunter at heart and great for your back pocket.
There are usually consignment stores in most cities and outer suburbs as well as the plethora of second hand online stores (see above), not to mention the wonderful charity shops in nearly every suburb in Australia. You just need to be committed, know your style and commit to getting a piece altered if need be.
Writer at MG/B