5 Common Struggles with Sustainable Fashion

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Understanding that fast fashion is not sustainable is easy. Knowing how and where to find better alternatives is slightly harder. Even when you start looking into the subject there are a few common problems that might arise.

Style

Are oversized hemp pants and batik tunics the picture that comes to mind when you think of sustainable fashion? Sure, there are loads of that out there but today there are alternatives available that offer a wider range of styles.

Finding sustainable clothes that fit your personal style can be hard. You’ve probably spent years cultivating your style and finding stores that correspond to this. You probably know where to go if you want a good white tee and where to go for a party dress. So when you start looking for sustainable options you might find yourself back at zero, having to go through the process of finding your sustainable favorites.

So how can you make the process of finding your sustainable style a bit easier? Firstly, find sustainable influencers whose style you like. They will surely be sharing their favorite brands on their channels so be there and snap it up. Additionally, you could start following your favorite brands on resale apps. It’s still possible to shop your favorite high street favorites, as long as you purchase them second hand. By shopping second hand you save clothes from going to landfills, as well as avoiding using new resources.

Size

Finding clothes that fit is hard enough, to begin with, but if you are plus size the selection of sustainable brands that cater to you will be very slim. Many sustainable brands start very small, meaning only size S-L which leaves most women out. There are however brands that are working hard on being size-inclusive, so don’t think that you have to skip sustainable fashion because of your size!

Some great resources for finding size-inclusive brands:

Marielle Elizabeth’s full list of plus size sustainable brands

The Good Trade’s list of 15 plus-size brands

Ecocult’s list of size-inclusive ethical and sustainable brands

Price

The price point is definitely higher for sustainable fashion than for fast fashion. This is because better materials cost more, and so does paying a fairer wage for workers.

The best ways to get around the price issue is to rethink how you value and spend money. From fast fashion, we have gotten the view that clothes are cheap and disposable and that it’s okay if a shirt breaks after 4 wears because it only cost us 4€. But the resources behind that shirt was way more expensive than those 4€ and we should strive to extend the life of our garments. So instead of buying five 4€ shirts that last us a total of 20 wears, we should instead invest those 20€ in one shirt that will last us 20+ times. Investing in quality rather than quantity.

Shopping second hand is also a great solution for an affordable and sustainable closet. The prices are cheaper and allow you to stretch your money further than buying new. There are no new resources being used for second-hand items and at the same time, you might be saving an item from ending up in the landfill. Pretty neat, huh?

Accessibility

If you don’t live in a bigger city, chances are there are no physical stores near you that sell sustainable fashion. Thankfully today there are loads of brands that are available for you to shop online!

One issue with shopping online is finding the right size and fit, so to avoid sizing issues, invest in measuring tape to make sure you order the right size. Also, don’t be afraid to contact the shops or brands for sizing help, they want you to find the best fit as well. There is the problem with shipping when shopping online. And while it might feel like a big issue, shipping usually has a small impact on the lifecycle of a garment.

If you don’t feel like shopping online, it’s wise to go for smaller local businesses that produce quality products that will last. Investing in smaller businesses keeps your money from the big corporations, destroying the planet with unethical practices, and benefits the local area.

Knowledge

Knowing which materials, brands or certifications are best takes time and lots of research. Even researchers seem to be unable to say what’s the best choice (except maybe less consumption of newly produced products, I think that one is pretty clear), so how is it possible for us consumers to know?

Once again, I would champion finding stores, influencers, and brands that you can trust and follow their lead. Unless you want to do all the work yourself. Just spending a little time reading up on which fabrics are most eco-friendly can make shopping feel easier. And never feel bad for making a decision based on what you thought was the best at the time. Choose progress over perfection and be kind to yourself.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

5 common struggles with sustainable fashion

What is Ethical Fashion and Why Should I buy it?

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Today, Monday 22nd until Sunday 28th is Fashion Revolution Week. Fashion Revolution is an organization formed by Orsola di Castro??

What is ethical fashion?

To really define ethical fashion is quite hard. I always saw (and still do see) ethical fashion as fashion that focused on social aspects of the fashion process, ethical and fair trade labor, companies that made sure that workers were paid fairly and worked in safe and humane conditions. This is also often the use I see from a lot of brands promoting themselves as ethical.

In its essence though, ethical fashion is a wide definition of designing, producing and distributing fashion with ethics in mind. This means ethical in regard to all. To the planet, the people within the supply chain, as well as animals. Thus it encompasses both eco-friendly/sustainability, cruelty-free and fair labor.

If we look at an example, Everlane is often championed as an ethical brand. The reason for this is that they are somewhat transparent and use ethical factories. So nothing really about the environment or animal welfare. This is what makes the term quite confusing.

Why is it needed?

According to Fashion Revolution  women in the Guangdong region in China (where a lot of fashion is made) have to work up towards 150 hours of overtime every month. In addition, only about 10 percent of them have access to social insurance. In Bangladesh, the workers are only earning about one-fourth of the living wage, about 44£ a month! At the same time, the amount of fashion that is produced per year has more than doubled since the year 2000. In 2014, we bought 60 percent more garments than in 2000, while only keeping each garment for half the amount of time.

No matter if it’s the planet or the people you are more passionate about, these statistics clearly show that the speed of which the fashion industry is moving at is ever increasing and the planet and the people in the industry are paying the price. Fashion is a huge industry and it has the chance to make a great impact if it were to make sustainable changes.

Why is it more expensive?

Today most of us have access to fast fashion and have probably bought a t-shirt for less than 10€. So it makes sense that a lot of people would be shocked to see an ethically produced t-shirt cost four times as much. Ever since fashion was outsourced to cheaper countries, there has been a race for cheaper. When one country’s labor becomes too expensive (ergo, they get better paid), companies simply move their production to another, poorer, cheaper country. Until that country gets better wages and they move onto the next.

Fast fashion has given us a screwed view of what things actually cost because when you shop for fast fashion there is usually someone else paying. When you buy a cheap t-shirt, there really is no room for paying the workers fairly because after material costs and markups there is next to nothing left for the workers. It’s simple math.

This doesn’t mean that all items that are slightly more expensive pay fair wages. It might just be a higher markup to ear more money. But it’s safe to say that if you cannot believe how cheap it is, you can be pretty sure that someone along the line wasn’t paid.

Who made my clothes?

This is the question that Fashion Revolution wants us to pose to our favorite brands. Even though most brands write in which country the item has been produced, very few share who or even in which factory it was produced. A lot of times they do not even know. The supply chains are today a huge net of factories in many different countries and continents and the traceability is lacking. By demanding brands to answer the question of who made my clothes you are demanding a fairer production and a more transparent production.

So who will you be asking?