What do you wear and how do you shop? Do you ever consider the impact that your fashion choices make in terms of sustainability, pollution, ecology and exploitation? The global fashion industry impacts on both agriculture and manufacturing, using, producing, abusing chemicals and pesticides, oil and petrochemicals and water, to create products that all too often are worn for a season and then discarded. “Fast Fashion”is often synonymous with worker exploitation, dangerous working conditions, child labour and with workers being paid a pittance.
It is certainly possible to make ethical choices about what you wear and about how you shop, and still have a fabulous wardrobe!
It is probably a good idea to take a good look at what clothes you have, and sort them out! I recently had a good old wardrobe declutter and went for a “capsule” wardrobe approach. I reduced my clothes by about half and found the exercise therapeutic and useful! It has allowed me to see what items I overbuy and what items I truly need! If you do have clothes that no longer fit, you could sell them on-line, or you could donate them to a charity shop. Clothing that charity shops cannot use is usually sold on to a “Rag man”, a trader who will sort the items for recycling in the textile industry, for re-sale abroad, e.g. in Ghana, The Ukraine, Pakistan, or for land fill. You could also get a bit more creative and organise a “clothes swap” event with friends or family, or you could take a pitch at a Car Boot sale and try your luck direct selling!
What about those items that need a little TLC ?
Repairs and alterations are really not difficult, even for a sewing novice! You can sew on a button very simply with a needle and thread. If you can sew on a button, you can replace all of the buttons on a dress or jacket and give it an entirely new look. Look at a few YouTube tutorials or buy a book and learn a few basic stitches… running stitch, back stitch and blind hemming will serve you well, and enable you to repair a split seam, stitch on a patch or repair a snagged hem.
Invest in a sewing machine and a whole world of creativity opens up to you……
Back to that pile of discarded clothes…..reuse the fabrics and make something new. It is pretty easy to turn a pair of jeans into a skirt, or a tote bag, or a pair of shorts! You can turn a dress into a skirt or a skirt into a dress. You just need a bit of imagination!
Consider buying Vintage or buying from charity shops. Buying used clothes is the ultimate in clothing recycling and offers so much choice. Buying from an On-line or a Brick & Mortar Vintage Shop gives you the opportunity to explore fashion history, create a unique and personal style often with one-off pieces. Look for iconic pieces from a certain era, or for certain designers. Some Vintage buyers like a total look, perhaps even with hairstyle and footwear from a particular era, whereas many like to mix Vintage with modern, for a more eclectic and individual personal style. In Charity shops, be prepared to look through racks and racks of mainly modern clothes. You will often find bargains, particularly in “special occasion” wear, and could save yourself lots of money!
Think of new clothes as investment pieces. It is worth looking at how your clothes are produced, from the source of the fibre and fabric to completion. Organic fibres, hemp, linen, cotton, wool etc., or recycled fabrics would be used more if we created a demand for them. You may wish to support up and coming designers or small collectives that consider the impact of their methods on the environment and produce clothes that will last.