Catherine J Archer.
BA (Hons) Fashion Design student at Bath Spa University. Class of 2020 graduate!
Fashion is a massive industry - so very busy and eclectic, that some facts go unmentioned - and I want to talk about them.
This blog is a platform for me to share my opinions and ideas on the need for sustainable fashion.
Be curious. Be the change.
Top Tips for Conscious Purchases
In search of becoming the best version of ourselves and preserving the planet that hosts all life as we know it, I’ve written some key tips for purchasing any clothing items.
Buying more sustainably is important due to many reasons (please give my other posts a read to better understand the topic). There is no black or white way to view conscious purchases, as there are so many variables afecting our choices. Briefly, sustainable fashion is an umbrella term covering more ethical or eco-friendly production of an item. Upcycling old or buying second hand are also more sustainable options.
Fast-fashion, on the other hand,is mostly found on the high street or online; easily accessible and easily disposable. It moves quickly from the catwalk to stores. Pretty Little Thing, Boohoo, Missguided, Primark, H&M, Topshop, Office, Urban Outfitters… to name a few! It's attractive, on trend and cheap. What we see as consumers is actually the end product of a long cycle of production.
1. WHICH FIBRE AND WHY
When my A-level textiles teacher told me I had to study fibre chemistry in order to understand the properties of the fabric I was like "naaaaah".
I still learned a few things:
Fibres can be
·natural (a.k.a. cellulosic) Like cotton, hemp, silk, wool, linen…
·synthetic (a.k.a. manmade or oil based. Yes, as in fossil fuels!) Like acrylic, nylon, polyester
·regenerated derived from wood pulp (like viscose) and some considered more sustainable due to being recyclable, such as lyocell
The source of the fibres, and variability in production, all contribute to their carbon footprint. After treatment they're spun into yarns and woven or knitted into fabrics, then cut and sewn.
In my experience and as I continue to learn, I have mostly been purchasing things solely made from natural fibres, preferably organic. They feel great on the skin and have a sufficiently less CO2 footprint than synthetics which, even ones that are recycled (!!!), will continue to shed micro plastics into our water bodies.
It’s important to keep in mind that purchasing things consciously is a life style choice, “the most sustainable garments are the ones already in your wardrobe!”
Only recently have I started donating things because I don’t feel myself in them, although they still fit me. I urge you to Marie Kondo it, and “only keep what sparks joy”. Do it! Dump all of your clothes on the bed and go through them piece by piece. It’ll help the mental process. I was surprised by the items I forgot I owned or needed to alter. In doing this, you’ll know what you do and don’t have, so when you next go on the hunt you’ll know exactly what you need.
Personally, I have found basic pieces to be my saviour, as they’re easy to layer and you’ll never feel like you have nothing to wear again, as you can’t go out of fashion! Don’t get me wrong, I still love quirky pieces. Some of my favourite garments were my grandmother’s or my mother’s, belonged to my best friend, to her dad, or found vintage at car boots. You’ll be amazed by what you can find closest to you! Be resourceful.
By definition, this is a misleading claim about the source or benefits of a product to make the company appear to be more environmentally friendly than it is. I’m looking at you, H&M Conscious Line.
H&M are a great example of this, as big fast fashion retailer’s sustainable strategies are implemented purely for sales targets. Did you know H&M sends 12 tonnes of unsold clothing directly to landfill yearly? That is brand new garments being incinerated from one fashion retailer alone. Imagine the build up! Mass production is not sustainable in any given situation. Profit is all that drives these companies.
Essentially, what you need to look out for is the company’s entire ethos. Transparency is ultra, super, mega
important. Usually it’ll be 100% clear if a brand cares about the entire production process, from the source of the fibre, through the ethical making, to the durability of the item. People Tree are a great example of this.
Just because something says it is sustainable, doesn't mean it really is. Usually if you’re unsure it’s because it’s unclear. An app that myself and friends use to get a better idea of a brand’s reputation is called “Good on You”. Would recommend when it comes to deliberating a brand’s honesty (because lying ain’t cool).
4. MAKE IT A LIFESTYLE
Being conscious of the products we buy is the main thing I would like for you to take away from this. Try to approach any purchase as a lifestyle choice of selecting only that which you absolutely love and plan to cherish for the rest of its days!
For me, as I believe with anything, if you surround yourself with it, you become it. Also, sustainability is in now, if you don’t care about others or the planet then “boo you!”
In hopes of this buying habit to become second nature to you, here are a few general things that have helped me:
1.Join Facebook groups such as the "Slow Fashion Exchange" for any queries and a friendly community of like-minded people.
3.Vintage is great (as long as it’s legit) because it is usually made properly and to last. Also it’s unique! You can even rent clothing for fancy events to wear that gorgeous dress you always wanted (but will realistically only wear once…)
4. Organise or attend a clothes swap or share clothes with friends or siblings.
5.Buy second hand in charity shops or preloved online: Depop app or Vinted.co.uk are great for
finding exactly what you need without having to spend hours scouting for it. Convenient? check. Affordable? check. Ruining the planet? Nope. What’s not to love?
6.Do It Yourself: dye it, sew it, embroider it. Make it yours!
7.On Instagram: @slowfashionmemes (the second these become relatable is a beautiful one).
8.“If it’s not dirty wash at 30º”and hang it up rather than tumble drying it! Two-thirds of the carbon footprint of clothing occurs during the aftercare.
Our choices impact others in ways hard to imagine, it is important to always question where
the item has come from and where it’s going.
Because "sustainable fashion" no longer means "boring"!
To those of you wondering where to buy yourself the new shirt of your dreams, yet only willing to do so without harming the Earth or other fellow humans.
Here are some key points to note:
Transparency - Sustainability has been a buzzword for a while now. It's cool to care for the planet. So some brands will be jumping on the craze simply to drive profits without being genuine as a company (this is called greenwashing). The brand must be fair to its workers and make an effort to reduce their impact on the planet. There should be info on that in the brand's "About Us" section. Price - I know, I know, "sustainable fashion is expensive". No it's not, simply a majority of consumers nowadays are used to buying a top with the same price tag as a takeaway coffee. Given the brand is genuine in it's transparency, it's worth the investment. The fork-out will make more sense when you …
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