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How To:Sustainably Approach Fashion

by Rebecca Hughes

Known on Instagram as @theniftythrifter_, Becky shares how to thrift whilst highlighting environmental and ethical importance of being fashionably sustainable.

The fashion industry is responsible for more carbon emissions than all international flights and shipping put together, per Business Insider. It’s time to revolutionise our relationship with the clothes we have in our wardrobes and ditch fast fashion in favour of brands that actually care. In our current climate, it is more important than ever to demonstrate a slower and more sustainable approach to fashion.

Fashion is intrinsically connected to the way we feel about ourselves. We want to keep up with trends in order to be relevant and ‘cool.’ I still see pictures online of people wearing fast fashion and find myself thinking about how much I love a certain top. However, I always end up listening to reason, thinking about the impact it has on someone else’s life and the detrimental effect fast fashion has on the environment. I decided that it was definitely not worth selling my soul to look cute in that top.

I would also often use trends as an excuse to buy a certain item of clothing for a night or an event, post it on Instagram and then never wear it again. This disposable clothing culture is too often promoted by fast fashion brands and the trend is both pernicious and simply unsustainable. I could easily find a top just as cute (and better made) at a charity store or by purchasing from a sustainable brand to show I care about my impact on the world.

During all of 2019, I chose not to buy any new clothes and focused on how I can thrift clothes instead. I can cherish and make better use of the clothes that I already have. I think that it is important to note that a sustainable relationship with fashion is not about a few of us following an ethical approach but more about millions of us accepting our imperfections while still trying hard to make a difference.

I think it involves having a more conscious thought process before buying clothes:

Is this something I really love?

Will I wear this a number of times?

Am I buying this certain piece just for a particular event or to post a picture and then throw it away?

These are the sorts of questions we should be asking ourselves before making a purchase.

Some of my favourite brands that promote a slower, cleaner approach to fashion are Lucy & Yak, Sloanie and TALA. Whilst working on a recent ‘Now x Slow Fashion’ documentary with Earth Minutes, I was lucky enough to interview exciting slow fashion brands such as Sancho’s and Finisterre. However, most of the brands I follow are independent creators who share their crafts on sites like Depop and Etsy. My favourites are Think Threads and Lucid Seams. Sites like Depop, Vestiarre, Hurr and Priest Ldn are all incredible portals to making sustainable shopping more accessible.

Upcycling is another way to make the clothes we already have wearable. I’ve taken to repairing and embroidering my clothes when broken. I’m keen to break down the myth that you must be a seamstress to be able to fix your clothes when, in reality, a simple needle and thread will do. In terms of fashion, use charity and thrift shops instead of heading straight to the high-street stores. The stigma that comes with charity shops is simply outdated; if you like what you see, just give it a wash and wear it with pride. Thoroughly research brands and use those that are making a conscious effort to improve the outlook for sustainability within the fashion industry.

There are many brands out there that do care. If fast fashion brands at least acknowledges the high-principled standards that we as the consumer demand, hopefully they will eventually adopt practices that put the planet first.

Here’s hoping. 

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