First, what is Ethical Fashion?
Let’s start with some definitions so we’re all on the same page.
Slow fashion “Slow Fashion is the deliberate choice to buy better-quality items less often. They’re environmentally and ethically conscious when purchases are made rather than trend-driven.” – digiday.com
Fast Fashion So naturally, fast Fashion is the opposite. Fast Fashion is an industry that is constantly making new trends, paying its employees very little (and treating them poorly, too), and not caring about the MASSIVE carbon footprint they are leaving behind.
Because the fashion industry moves so quickly, companies can push out new articles of clothing seemingly overnight at meager prices. This causes people to justify the amount they buy, only to toss it in a few months when it falls apart, or a new trend comes along.
In comes: Slow Fashion—trends out, quality pieces in. The idea of slow Fashion is beautiful. Buy fewer clothes and only buy quality pieces from companies you know aren’t exploiting resources or its employees.
So, where do we even start?
Before you run to your closet and start throwing things out, don’t. That will only add to the problem. Even though you now know what fast Fashion is and does, don’t think of your closet as dirty.
Here are some things you can do instead and what I’m doing to begin the transition.
- Love the clothes you already own.
The best advice I’ve ever heard when transitioning to a low waste/ethical lifestyle is this “using what you have is the most sustainable option.”
Everything you already own (Including your clothes) already exists. It doesn’t need to be made again for you to purchase it. And throwing it away would only add to the ever-growing problem of textile waste.
Instead of buying a new piece of clothing every couple of months, try to make the pieces you already own last longer.
That includes being more gentle with them, storing them properly, and washing them less.
There are countless ways to style a single article of clothing. And when they do start to go, find creative ways to re-purpose them and give them new life.
- Change your mindset.
We need to get out of this “fast” mentality. Everything from our food, clothing, service, and everything in between is so fast these days.
We need to learn how to slow down our lives and consumption rate.
Along with this fast mentality comes a mentality of “disposable.” Often, the things we get very quickly aren’t made or done as well and are frequently disposable.
We need to stop looking at clothing as something disposable, something meant to be cherished and last a long time.
- Buy to wear.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something because it was on ale, looked cute, or “I might need it one day.” Only for it to sit in the back of my closet and never be worn. Not even once. If you don’t go places that require a cocktail dress often, don’t buy the cocktail dress.
If you live in a warm climate and don’t plan on going anywhere cold, don’t buy a jacket.
Buy things with the intent to wear them. And wear them over and over and over again.
- Start shopping consignment.
Although most of the pieces you’ll find in thrift stores will be made by fast fashion companies, you are not directly supporting the company by purchasing. And better yet, you are, in a way, recycling. We are giving old clothes a new home and a second chance. And therefore keeping them out of landfills. Besides the clothes you already own, shopping in consignment stores is the most sustainable option.
- Don’t be fooled.
Ethical Fashion and sustainable living are making their way into the mainstream. So it’s more important now than ever to be aware of greenwashing. Brands will honestly go to great lengths to make you think they’re ethical when they are not. Be diligent and don’t take everything at face value. Transitioning your wardrobe won’t happen overnight, and you shouldn’t put any time limit on yourself to make the switch.
Creating an ethical wardrobe when we’re used to fast Fashion is a drastic change and requires dismantling everything we’ve grown up knowing.