Mindful Buying, Shopping Sustainably & Ethically.
In addition to re-creating old clothes, an effective way to support green fashion is to avoid buying newly produced clothing, simply because vintage and secondhand clothing require no new energy for production, and zero waste. Many charity and second-hand shops are now selling online, Oxfam has recently relaunched its online shop (presenting vintage specials, accessories and bags) with a range of high-end brands such a Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Whistles. The site allows you to filter for brands, styles and sizes; which can be a lot more appealing than spending hours in a charity shop. Your purchases will go towards helping those who are disproportionally affected by the coronavirus, providing access to basic necessities such as clean water and food. You can improve the lifecycle of your secondhand by clothing only washing them when essential, at a low temperature then letting them dry naturally.
If altering or embroidering unloved clothing is not for you, there are many fashion brands that promise well-made items with sustainable production and affordable pricing – in addition to secondhand. As the fashion industry becomes increasing transparent, shopping sustainability can be convenient and engaging – it’s just about finding a preference, suitable to your style. If you do buy new, I suggest investing in quality over quantity, as it is important to emphasize durability. It helps to be informed; you can usually find a brand’s values and practices of sustainability online (including origin of fibers, locations of factories and working conditions). Having a complete, sustainably sourced wardrobe will not come overnight, allow yourself to grow and make gradual changes.
It is true that newly produced, sustainable fashion does cost more, this is largely because the recycled materials used require more treatment/processing, it can also be a reflection of better work conditions and fair pay throughout the supply chain. An inspiration to my own work is British menswear designer Bethany Williams, who collaborates with charities to promote environmental and social change. Bethany’s work incorporates second-hand denim and hand-woven textiles to create entirely recycled collections. The stylish and contemporary pieces are a great example of how sustainable clothing can be colourful and playful. By shopping from independent brands, boutiques and local artisans you can shorten the cycle between you and your clothing. Products are often made-by-order which reduces waste and gives them a unique feel. An item of clothing that is has meaning to its owner and that will stand the test of time– buying less but buying better!
I can proudly say I that I haven’t bought fast fashion in over a year. I don’t think it was even a conscious decision, I’ve just found the uniqueness of secondhand and vintage to be a lot more interesting. At one point I was buying from Zara every other week, and almost felt like I had to buy something every time I went into the store.
Tips for thrifting:
Be patient, especially with charity shops. You might not find something you like until you reach the third shop. I would normally go to small high streets that have a few charity shops on them to save time.
Try it on, you will be surprised at how something might look on you. Even if it’s not exactly your style, a lot of my own clothes I was unsure of until I tried it on.
Be open minded, it might be hard to something specific so be prepared to consider other options. Eg. an orange skirt instead of a red one.
Bought this corset from a vintage stall in Jacobs Antique Market (Cardiff) last year. Shirt is secondhand and the denim skirt is my mums from about 10 years ago. Pearls from Oxfam, bought them for my 1920‘s outfit NYE. Bag is @artsrosie
Read full article of my contribution to GUAP Magazine: