You have values. So should your clothes.
Ethical/Sustainable fashion has been around for a long time, but it’s only now that it’s becoming a thing that people recognise not only as another trend but an actual necessity. 2019 saw a rise in people becoming more concerned with the rate at which our planet is declining.
Fast fashion contributes to climate change.
How? Well, “the fashion industry produces 10% of all of humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics. 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year.” Polyester, for example, is a fabric many of our clothes are made out of. Polyester is a type of plastic which doesn’t break down when you get rid of it and it ends up in a dump for many years, not going anywhere.
Fast fashion: Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. The vast majority of the clothes we wear are made in countries where the rights of workers are limited or pretty much non-existent. The people who make your clothes are earning little to no money, working in poor conditions, and working seemingly endless hours.
Ethical/Sustainable fashion: An approach towards sourcing, manufacturing and designing clothes which maximises the benefits to the industry and society at large, and at the same time minimises the impacts on the environment. It also means that the people making your clothes have made them under proper working conditions and they’ve earned fair wages.
Slow fashion: Often made in smaller and more local places using high quality, sustainable materials. These materials are locally sourced with fewer collections being released every year. It encourages us to buy fewer garments because they will last longer.
Biodegradable: I’ll use cotton as an example for this one. Cotton is completely biodegradable meaning it can be broken down, recycled, and manufactured into something else. This avoids pollution.
How can we actually support/buy into slow fashion?
First of all, by buying clothing from ethical/sustainable brands. You can be sustainable by donating your clothes too. In 2020 make it a thing to donate your clothes, whether to charities, friends, or selling them online.
Another big conversation that revolves around sustainable fashion is that of “the price you pay.” There’s no denying that it can be pretty expensive. One thing that has helped me feel a little better when navigating the websites is that it stops me from buying clothing I don’t actually need. When I know I’m about to spend more money than usual, I think about it longer. In the process of thinking I’ll be able to discern more between what I want and what I actually need. The pieces I end up with will be investment pieces which will last longer and make me feel better because I’m doing my small part in helping the environment and the people who have put time and energy into believing and creating. Alternatives such as buying from charity shops or doing clothes swaps with your friends are just as great. There are also apps such as Depop where people sell and buy second-hand clothes (there are honestly some great pieces on there.) I mainly look to Depop when wanting to buy original vintage pieces.
Sustainable and ethical fashion is a trend that should never end.
If you buy into ethical/sustainable fashion you are not only helping the environment but also supporting those who are making the clothes. Usually women and girls of colour. Your clothes will say “Made in Indonesia”, “Made in China”, ‘Made in Romania”, to name a few, but that’s just about all you’ll know about it. You never get to know anything about the actual person who manufactured the jumper you’re wearing right now. It goes deeper. Think about the person who made the clothes you’re wearing right now. Think about the conditions they’ve had to make your clothes in. So it’s not just about it saving the planet, it’s also about changing peoples lives.
Women of Colour creatives bring a new voice and fresh perspective into the industry and I find it incredibly important that I do what I can to support women of colour who are stepping up in industries where there’s not many of them. Think about the BAME woman who has worked tirelessly to create an ethical/ sustainable brand. The woman who has put her heart and soul into her brand and… no one is seeing her work.
There are so many layers in the industry that get neglected and it’s about time something changes.
Here a few brands by women of colour:
Average: $50 // £38
Ethics: Compostable packaging, sourced naturally, made locally
Sophia Chang & Weylie Hoang
I first came across them on YouTube where they both create videos ranging from vlogs to serious sit-down videos. They’re the YouTuber’s I watch when I want to be uplifted and feel like I could accomplish so many things. So when I heard they were creating their own brand I was probably too excited.
Womn. is a female-focused apparel line that makes limited runs of conscious clothes. Through their products and community, their goal is to celebrate women (all different types of them) and to help rethink what femininity means in this day and age.
Average $64 // £50
Ethics: Ethical production process, organic cotton
Founder and creative director of Most Prominent Co., Avery went to university and took a course on Environmental and Occupational Health which opened her eyes to the realities of labourers in any industry. Along with her love for digital and tangible forms of art, she decided to dedicate her love for fashion to serve the underrepresented people behind her clothes – garment workers.
Most Prominent Co. was founded in 2017 and is a responsible clothing brand bringing streetwear into the ethical fashion space. The brand seeks to improve garment labour working conditions with each piece telling a story, educating and advocating.
Average 941kr // £75
Ethics: Made from deadstock fabric (leftover fabric), recycled packaging
I came across Julia Dang on YouTube and instantly fell in love with her creative Outfit of The Day videos along with her light-hearted vlogs. I wasn’t shocked when I found out she was starting her very own brand. It had to happen.
The idea of DANG STHLM started at the beginning of 2019 when Julia Dang wanted to create a conscious brand that neither exploited our planet or workers, yet was still designed with quality and ready to be worn. Each individual piece reflects her style and personality.
Subrina Heyink grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the U.S to study Chemistry at university although she eventually dropped out to pursue her passion—fashion. Subrina is now a fashion stylist, vintage shop owner, and mother. She opened her vintage store in early 2017.
This online store (@subrinaheyinkvintage) recently made a transition from website to Instagram. It seems like Instagram is becoming home to everything nowadays. Subrina Heyink is an Instagram vintage shop full of hand-picked statement pieces to spice up your wardrobe.
And if you’ve made it to the end of this post and you’re thinking ” I can’t afford any of this,” here are 2 thrifting videos for YOU: