By Ethical Made Easy
If you have Instagram, there’s a high chance you’ve come across the term “sustainable fashion” in your scrolls.
Sustainable fashion is a bit of a complex beast (kind of like us pre-morning lattes), so we’ve put together a short, all-inclusive explanation of what sustainable fashion is, why it’s important and how you, as a change-making consumer, can participate in it.
What is sustainable fashion?
Essentially, sustainable fashion is a more considered approach to both the environmental and social impact fashion has. Sustainable fashion brands bring garments to life with complete intention and consider the impact the production of their garments has on our environment, the people who create them and the consumers for whom they are made.
Sustainable fashion brands (more often than not) participate in ethical practices - their employees are paid fairly and work in safe, non-discriminatory, abuse-free conditions. They also consider the lifespan of a garment before it is even created, taking into account the strength and quality of the fabric they use; its ability to withstand the weather, the washes and, of course, the wine stains; and its timelessness, trans-seasonality, and its ability to defy seasons and trends.
As for the environment, sustainable fashion companies carefully consider the materials they use. Fabrics like GOTS organic cotton, OEKO-TEX certified bamboo, hemp, linen, deadstock fabrics, end-of-roll fabrics and ECONYL are just a few of the materials synonymous with sustainable fashion. More often than not, these companies will also choose non-toxic dyes and compostable packaging, and may even extend their sustainability commitment to the bank they use and the energy consumption of their studios.
Why is sustainability in fashion important?
"10% of global carbon emissions come from the fashion industry, which is more than shipping and aviation combined" (The Ellen Macarthur Foundation); “4% of the money Australians spend on their clothing actually goes towards the wages of garment factory workers” (Oxfam); and “fast fashion companies design clothes that fall apart quickly. They pursue a strategy called ‘Planned obsolescence’. This means to design garments to become unfashionable, wear out, lose shape or fall to pieces easily to force consumers to keep buying new clothes” (Be Global Fashion Network).
Fast fashion companies essentially operate with a “52 seasons a year” model, and this is evident through the endless supply of cheap garments pumped out by them on a weekly basis. These garments are not designed for durability or longevity, and are certainly not created with any thought given to the end of their lifespan - a lifespan that, considering that consumers keep clothing items about half as long as they did 15 years ago, is incredibly short.
Sustainability in fashion is important because the traditional fashion model is against the environment, is against garment workers, and is against you and me. Fast fashion companies including (but certainly not limited to) Boohoo, H&M, Zara and UNIQLO put profit over people and the planet, and are completely environmentally and socially irresponsible.
To put it simply, they can’t sit with us. Ever.
How can I be more sustainable in my own fashion consumption?
By considering your purchases long before you make them. We know this sounds like a chore and a half, but we promise it ain’t. The most sustainable wardrobe you could ever have is the one you already own, so shopping secondhand, reacquainting yourself with your wardrobe, and mending what you already own are great things you can do to participate in sustainable fashion without spending a dime.
When the time does come for you to buy something new - because, let’s face it, you’re only human - and you want to be more sustainable in your consumer habits, consider buying a made-to-order garment. Essentially, if a garment is made-to-order, it is only brought to life if there is an individual demand for that specific garment. If something is made-to-order, it is specifically made for you. Dreams really do come true.
You can also consider the cost-per-wear of a garment. Cost-per-wear is exactly how it sounds: it’s the amount of money that garment actually costs you each time you wear it. Cost-per-wear describes the price you pay for a garment, divided by the amount of times you wear it. For example, if you buy a garment for $100 and wear it 4 times, that garment costs you $25 each time you wear it. This is a super useful tool that will help you decide whether or not you will actually wear the garment you’re eyeing off.
Where can I shop for sustainable fashion?
We’ve made this one as easy as ordering hangover food on a Sunday morning. If you live in Australia or New Zealand, Ethical Made Easy Store is a great place to shop for all women’s and men’s sustainable fashion. We’ve got activewear and swimwear made from recycled water bottles (ooh), dresses crafted from responsibly-sourced linen (aah), and the comfiest underwear on the planet (yeah, we called it). Thanks to i=change, $1 from every sale goes directly towards one of three charities, and you get to choose which charity your money goes to.
With Ethical Made Easy Store, we want to make it easy (lol) for you to support brands that align with your own personal values, regardless of what this looks like for you. The brands we partner with are completely committed to environmental and social responsibility: they limit their collections to small runs, ethically craft their garments from eco-friendly materials, and some adhere to a made-to-order mode of production (which you know all about now). Most importantly though, these companies are setting Tomorrow’s Standard in what it means to do good business, and we are 100% here for it.
Sustainable fashion is not just for businesses, it can also be an action taken by individuals in their everyday lives. By considering your purchases, considering the cost-per-wear, and considering from which brands you buy new garments, you will be participating in a more sustainable mode of consumption. You may even help to save the world along the way.
For some epic sustainable wardrobe inspiration, check out these gals (they’ll make you proud to be an outfit-repeater, too):