The world of sustainable fashion and becoming a conscious consumer can be overwhelming. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions, which can make it confusing and hard to know where to start if you want to shop more sustainably.
Today I’m going to lay out some of these commonly held beliefs, prove them wrong, and show you easy ways to start incorporating sustainable style into your own closet.
sustainable fashion brands are too expensive
This is probably the number one thing I hear when I have conversations about sustainable fashion. Designer brands like Stella McCartney have done a world of good for promoting eco-fashion, but they’ve also contributed to the misconception that to shop sustainably means to spend a fortune. Additionally, you’ll rarely find ethically produced garments at price points comparable to what you’d find in Forever21. But there is a middle ground.
Companies like Everlane and Kotn are great examples of companies that incorporate radical transparency into their supply chain, and produce clothing that is high-quality and fairly priced. And I think that’s key. We need a mindset shift of what we as consumers think is fair to pay for a piece of clothing. We also need a mindset shift on how often we purchase newly manufactured clothing.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say “It was only $20 so I don’t care if I don’t wear it again” or “I just need this dress for this one event, so I don’t want to spend more than $75”. Fashion shouldn’t be disposable.
My personal outlook on this is that it makes more sense to shop less but spend more for ethically produced, high-quality pieces. If I compared how I used to shop a couple of years ago – purchasing new “good deals” multiple times a season – to how I shop now, I probably spend the same amount or less. Perhaps I have less in terms of quantity, but the quality can’t be beat.
i can never shop at zara or h&m again
I am a firm believer that as consumers, we vote with our wallets. As someone trying to be more of a conscious consumer, I have to think twice about shopping at fast fashion chains whose sustainability claims are not as transparent as they should be. But I also understand that it’s hard to go cold-turkey and give up the designs and deals we love.
My personal outlook on this is that it’s better to support sustainable brands and choose used when possible, but in today’s market, ignoring fast fashion is a big task. If you’re going to shop at these companies, do so thoughtfully, and pick pieces that you’ll know you can wear and love for a long time.
secondhand shopping is gross and it’s hard to find what i want
I find it hard to understand how anyone thinks secondhand shopping is gross, but to those who do, my response would be “Thank goodness we have the ability to wash our clothing”. There are definitely pieces I wouldn’t buy used (lingerie, socks, etc.), but for the most part, there are ways of ensuring your secondhand items are sanitized.
If you think logically about this, we actually can’t afford to ignore upcycling and buying into the “re-commerce” industry. I really like what Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed – the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion had to say about this:
“There is no evidence that the standard of living we enjoy today can continue. North Americans in particular have a huge carbon footprint. And there’s no evidence that the way we live can be replicated in developing economies without disastrous consequences. That’s the paradox at the heart of how we’re living and one that goes beyond fast fashion.”
Companies like ThredUp and Poshmark (app) make it really easy to find what you’re looking for. ThredUp’s website provides a seamless user experience. It has really easy to use filters, so that you can narrow down what you’re looking for to your size, colour, budget, and brands you know you’ll love – it saves so much time.
How I shop
My personal shopping strategy now looks like this: for basic items and wardrobe staples that I can’t find used, I’ll purchase as often as possible from sustainable brands. To add personality and depth to my wardrobe, I’ll purchase secondhand/vintage.
I hope this post shed some light on the myths around sustainable fashion. I’m curious to know what your personal philosophy is on shopping 🙂 I am sure it’s different than mine, and I love learning more about how people around me build their closets. Thank you so much for reading! Xox