Kicking a habit can be tough. Especially when you are a die-hard fashion lover on the lookout for a bargain. It’s so addictive to walk out of a store with all the latest trends but unfortunately, our planet is paying for your bargain.
There are many easy tips to help you break the habit of fast fashion and also build a sustainable wardrobe in the process. Check out my top 5 tips to get you on your way.
1. Get clued up on the ‘why’
We cannot change our habits for the better if we don’t know why we are changing them. The key to understanding why we should veer away from buying fast fashion is to research sustainable fashion.
In a nutshell, Sustainable Fashion is creating clothing in the most sustainable way possible. Taking into account the environmental and socio-economic aspects of manufacturing, fabrics, transport, storage, marketing, customer care and end of life of the garments.
– To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? By Lucy Siegle
– Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
– Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press
2. Buy less, choose well, make it last
As Vivienne Westwood says, “Buy less, choose well, make it last”. Often purchases from fast fashion stores are made from poor quality fabrics and designed to last less than a season. By saving your money for well made ethical clothing, you can ensure that your new top lasts longer and you get better value for your hard-earned cash.
Speaking of fabrics, it pays to understand the difference between natural fabrics and synthetic fabrics. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, linen and wool, are breathable, more environmentally friendly to produce and can breakdown faster in landfill compared to synthetics. (But never put textiles in the bin!)
Synthetics, such as polyester and nylon, are created from petroleum and coal. Not only is their creation causing pollution, but each wash also releases tiny microplastics into the environment. Each of these plastic fragments (less than 5mm in length) penetrate our environment and cause harm to not only our wildlife but also to us! Synthetics are also more likely to stretch, pill, tear and fade.
3. Support ethical brands & choose certifications
Just like organic food and fair trade coffee, our clothing can also come with certifications to help consumers navigate ethical fashion. These certifications ensure that the product you are buying is certified organic, free from child labour or pays a living wage to the garment workers.
It’s important to remember that sometimes the certification may not include the whole garment, it could just mean one part, for example, the Fairtrade mark only means that the cotton is certified Fairtrade. If in doubt, ask questions to avoid greenwashing.
4. Be open to new ways of shopping
Often we are lured into shopping in the big brand stores because of a cheap price point or the latest trend. Well, what if I told you that there was a more sustainable way to shop right next door?
Op shops, vintage stores and consignment stores are growing in numbers around the world. According to a 2019 report by ThreadUp, the second-hand clothing industry is set to be worth $US64 billion in the US, while fast fashion will only reach $US44 billion in 2028.
Online resale apps like Depop and even Facebook marketplace are cashing in on the Kondo effect with 40% of consumers now considering the resale value of an item before buying it.
But what if we didn’t have to own everything? Renting is another sustainable option that is growing fast. Sydney Based Glam Corner has more than 10,000 garments for you to loan for 4 to 8 days. Way better than having your precious wardrobe space taken up by that dress you HAD to wear to your cousins western-themed 30th party…
5. Give your wardrobe some extra TLC
Before the rise of Fast Fashion, we owned less and cared for it. Nowadays, where trends change in the blink of an eye, we have lost the ability to sew on a button or mend a tear. Caring for our clothing correctly means it will last longer, be worn more and mean more to us.
Instead of constantly searching for that “perfect” pair of pants, look in your wardrobe to see what you already have. Work on mending or getting garments tailored to your body. Air dry instead of throwing in the clothes dryer. Hand Wash delicate items. Reinvent a tired garment by sewing on different buttons or fraying the hem. Stop seeing our clothing as disposable. Remember, Loved Clothes Last.
So next time you feel the urge to shop, head to your local op shop or check out an eco-friendly brand. Small habit changes can lead to world-saving steps.
Want to learn more about how to style sustainably? Check out our courses at Australian Style Institute.
Written by Jenna Flood, Sustainable Style Expert and Education Mentor at Australian Style Institute.