The fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry, behind fossil fuels, in the world today.
As well as the water pollution, agricultural pollution and the production of non-biodegradable synthetic fibres, the over consumption of fashion itself is one of our biggest problems. This is before we’ve even started on the ethical and humanitarian issues the industry throws up…
For an industry that for many of us provides a fun and creative outlet to express ourselves, there’s no doubt there’s a dark side, and it’s becoming harder for the industry, and for us, to ignore. That’s why I’m trying to think a little differently about what I buy and what I choose to wear.
I don’t know about you, but over the last six months, I’ve noticed a massive change in the way people seem to be thinking about their wardrobes. Not only is there more awareness, with TV shows like the new BBC documentary, ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’, I’ve also seen a big change in the way different bloggers and influencers are talking about fashion over on social media.
Looking at my Instagram feed over the last few days, at least 5 different women, with tens of thousands of followers, have talked very openly about their confusion about what to do when it comes to fast fashion.
After all, these are women who make a very successful living by promoting fast fashion brands and clothing, wearing new garments almost everyday and who are sent dozens of freebies by brands every month. It’s no wonder they feel a bit conflicted when they hear about the cost this kind of industry has on our planet.
Many of them seem stuck between wanting to remain relevant to their followers who love to check out what’s new and affordable on the high street, and wanting to have a more intentional wardrobe of well made pieces that will be worn a lot more than once.
While they may not have all the answers just yet, they want to make a change when it comes to their wardrobes. Whether this change will ripple out to the rest of us who don’t have brands knocking our doors begging to work with us, remains to be seen, but there is definitely more movement away from fast fashion.
All in all, I’ve been thinking differently about fashion recently and I want to change the way I look at my wardrobe. As a maker, I feel that I already spend a lot of time trying to make good decisions about what I’m wearing, after all, I don’t want to spend hours making something to find the fabric falls apart, or that I just never end up wearing the garment. So here’s where I’m starting…
Lot’s of people start with a massive clear out, which certainly helps clarify what I really love and what fits well. (This process is made a little harder by the fact I’m pregnant right now, so my body shape is changing dramatically!) However, there’s no point me getting rid of old stuff if it’s just going to go into landfill right? I’m trying to make sure I look into where I’m donating or selling my clothes, to be sure that they are really needed and will be put to good use.
Anyone who’s had a recent wardrobe clear out knows how tempting it is to go out straight away and buy more clothes to replace them; but I know it is not going to help in the long run. That’s why I’m making lists of what I really need, so I can spend time to make or find a replacement I’m going to be happy with for a long time. If you’re unsure where to start and feel like you’re personal style could do with an update, Anuschka Rees, a personal style expert, has some great resources on her website to help you curate your wardrobe. I know I’ve found them useful!
Do some reading. I’m trying to make an effort to look into the brands I currently love, to see what their policies are on the environmental and ethical impact of the clothing they make and the production processes they use.
I’ve been getting involved with a few online challenges, like ‘The Refashioners' . It’s an annual movement run by Portia of The Makery, where creative people get involved around the world, and turn a previously unloved garment into something amazing. It’s been a real inspiration to get my juices flowing.
If you’re lacking in inspiration and don’t really know where to start, check out the #slowfashionoctober, and take part in the discussion many are having online about how we can all avoid contributing to fashion’s darker side. There are a lot of tips and prompts, and also links to companies and brands who are trying to be part of the solution. It’s something I’ll be trying to implement throughout the next few months, and also once I’m out of maternity clothes.
Being able to mend your own clothes is a skill that’s worth investing in. Rather than throwing away a piece of clothing with a rip or tear, or getting rid of something that doesn’t quite fit, I’m learning how to mend or alter them. While I already know how to sew and make some fixes, I’ve been following Katrina Rodabough, who has released a book all about the creative and visible ways to mend clothing.
Let me know if you have any other tips and ideas for me to try when it comes to being more mindful or sustainable about fashion.