What does sustainable mean to you? With so many voices in the fashion world, each with a different viewpoint on what is considered sustainable fashion, who do we listen to? What truly makes a garment sustainable?
I know we’re all done with talking about this pandemic but if it has taught us anything, it really was about going back to basics and working with what we have. Many people took to their wardrobes to really considered what it was they actually needed. Before the pandemic, were we just buying clothes for the sake of it, killing some time on a lunch break? Or for that feeling of joy when your parcel arrives at the door, knowing each time it was just momentary joy until the next parcel. Maybe it was to ensure all eyes were on you at the party that evening. Whatever the reason, we have to admit, we have all made purchases that we really didn’t need to. What can we do to shop better?
To understand how to shop better, we need to understand why we shop. Let’s go with the obvious. Love of fashion. Each fashion season we eagerly watch as designers send their looks down the runway. The collections drop in store and walk straight from the runway into our wardrobes. People who shop for the love of fashion usually have their style game down. They’re done with experimenting and really know what works for them and their style and how each piece will play a part in their wardrobe.
Let’s say you love fashion but its more the trends you’re interested in. You’re probably looking to Vogue or Elle to tell you what to wear next and like many, off you go on the hunt to find the next ‘it’ piece for your wardrobe. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with trends, but if you’re buying into them, its probably from the high-street and its probably not in your wardrobe for very long. Not until the next trend is out, when cheetah becomes the new leopard, and magenta is the new fuchsia.
Maybe you’re a practical shopper. You think long and hard about the pieces you invest in and really make sure you’re invested in them before you purchase. You’re probably shopping sustainably without even knowing you’re doing it. It’s not your typical idea of sustainable fashion. But you’re buying a piece for it to last, you’ll wear it multiple times, with multiple outfits, and only purchase something when it needs replacing.
All in all, people are becoming more considerate with the purchases they are making. One method in particular has seen a massive increase and has even been adopted by fashion giants like Selfridges and Farfetch. Vintage and thrift shopping is becoming more popular now more than ever. People are happily using these stores to source their next purchase, even online thrifting has become much more relevant, Selfridges with their RESELL-FRIDGES programme or Farfetch with the pre-owned option. It’s a great way to shop, I mean the clothes are not all aran sweaters and corduroy trousers, which is usually where my mind takes me when I think vintage. But you can get some really amazing one-off pieces that have a story behind them.
However, there is still a demographic who wishes to shop new, but their direction has shifted. In the past where social events were still allowed, we were all shopping the for a new outfit to wear at every event or waiting for the latest drop from Prada so we can happily join their cult of fashion elites. But it’s taken time for that demographic to realise that it’s the basics we are all desperately searching for when we add to cart another print shirt from Jacquemus. It’s the idea of going back to basics and adopting a minimalist mindset. Before you say anything, I’m not saying we all need to be dressed in neutrals with a clean silhouette. We just need to think about the pieces we have and how many different ways we can wear them. This is where basics come into play. Invest in some high quality basics in neutral colours that you can layer with your statement pieces.
Maybe for you it’s not about multiple use that defines sustainability. Maybe it is whether or not the garment is actually sustainably made. One word that comes to mind is transparency. Brands are starting to think more about how their garments are made. How much resource went into producing the raw materials? How many flights did the raw materials have to take before they made it to manufacturing? How much energy and resources went into manufacturing? Did that finished garment have to be packed and stored in another country? Is the packaging the garment is delivered in sustainable and recyclable? Theres so many things to consider if you truly want to shop sustainably.
But there are brands which are making it a lot easier to do so. Founded in 2002 Mother of Pearl is a contemporary brand who’s mission it was to become sustainable. “There’s no handbook on how to make a brand sustainable, but I wanted to know from start to finish where our product was grown or derived, who was making it and the social impacts along the way. I’ve journeyed to find the best factories, suppliers and farmers who care about the planet and its inhabitants as much as we do.” They offer a contemporary collection with simple designs that surprise surprise, can be transitioned into a multitude of looks. Its beautiful silhouettes they have created and a beautifully simple way for you to see what impact you garment has had on the environment.
If you’re not one for effortless blouses and cropped flare jeans, maybe The Pangaia will suit. Featuring the best track set I have ever worn, they too make it super easy for you to understand what impact your clothing has made. They also are using new methods of creating fabrics and textiles to ‘naturally’ improve your clothing. Grape leather sneakers and a down-like fibre made from flowers are just some of the amazing things they are doing.
For more of an everyday wardrobe Nuin could be the place for you. You’ve probably seen them advertised on your favourite social media influencer. They have rapidly grown in visibility online and are proving a success. With high-street price tags and sustainable clothes you can see why people are flocking to their site. Once again they offer simple pieces in simple colour palettes which can be mixed and matched over the seasons. It really is great to see brands doing more but what more can we be doing?