We’ve all got our New Year Resolutions, whether it’s doing more exercise or getting a new job, or – like me – spending less on clothes (it’s been tough). But one thing that we should all be doing is being more environmentally conscious, from eating no meat to boycotting fast fashion brands, which is a little bit more up my street.
You probably know this already (and if you don’t, I have no idea where you’ve been), but sustainability in fashion has become paramount. The shopaholic devil on my shoulder has been quaking in her Miista boots as the environment’s state gets drastically worse, and my spending habits have now been challenged not only by my pay check but also by the deteriorating climate surrounding me. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose fallen victim to those troublesome Black Friday sales and new-season drops, but as our situation gets increasingly worse, I am having to force myself to change. I’m not saying I’m perfect; it’s easy to slip into old habits when you find your dream Saks Potts coat for a fraction of the original price. But, despite this small hiccup, I’ve definitely got myself on the right track for 2020.
Whilst I face some personal challenges as SS20 stock clogs up my news feed, there are some serious perks that I’ve found along the sustainable brick road that make up for it. From designer bargains that beat any 70% off January sale to investing in those key pieces that will take me through the trend years, there are so many conscious fashion solutions that, without being too dramatic, can change our entire lives (and wardrobes).
One thing that I can thank my pay check for is becoming a hunting queen for a bargain, and this means buying other people’s clothes, whether it’s online or in store. Whilst seasonal sales can be tempting, I cannot stress how much better vintage and second hand pieces are on your wallet, style and carbon footprint. A couple of recent purchases of mine include a Chanel Tweed skirt for a speechless £105 off Depop (my online haggling skills proved useful), and a fuchsia Prada baguette bag for £45 off eBay, which only took a bit of tactical searching and bidding. When signing up to sites like Vestairie, Depop and Vinted, the trick is to have a few designers, brands or specific pieces in mind and search for them, following those who sell anything good you stumble across. I began this bargain manhunt by taking the time I usually spend endlessly scrolling on Instagram and dedicating it to these sites ,which maximised the chances of finding an absolute gem (doesn’t help the shopaholic tendencies though that’s for sure). I also sell a lot of my pieces on these sites, which in turn helps fund buying other second hand steals. I treat it like my circle of fashion life.
Another thing I’ve been doing a lot of recently is supporting small brands, especially sustainable ones, as it’s a great way to find unique pieces that you won’t come across on these mass-production-filled fashion sites. I often look out for fashion graduates who are starting up their own labels, most of which are sustainable nowadays, and give them an Insta follow. A few of my favourite small brands right now are Dipetsa, Helena Manzano, Camilla Bloom, Fruity Booty, Western Affair, Elliss and Chopova Lewona.
It’s easy to fall into habits of spending time on sites such as Selfridges and Farfetch, but with a bit of research you can easily find small boutique stores in your area that have the same concept but on a smaller sustainable level. Some London based stores like this include inNEOSs and 50m.
A huge issue I’ve also started facing is the struggle to trust a brand or company when the word ‘sustainable’ gets thrown about. When you hear huge climate activists & fashion designers such as Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood preaching about the environment and making political statements in their campaigns and catwalks, I can’t help but feel deceived. These are two designers who are still mass-producing clothes, some of which aren’t sustainably made (I’m talking about those VW jelly shoes that I spotted in Singapore). Vivienne Westwood’s Asian market is a completely different ball game to what she preaches to the Westerners – why isn’t that spoken about? And Stella McCartney has recently been outed for using a manufacturer who seriously underpays their staff, which is unethical, and that goes against the sustainability code for me.
‘Sustainable’ is a word that’s become used so loosely by many designers, which brings us to the new term ‘Greenwashing’, something H&M have been criticised for with their conscious collection. This means promoting the sustainable side of a brand/company, whilst dismissing any existing issues such as mass production, unethical manufacturing and the continued use of unsustainable materials. It’s easy, though, to out a fast-fashion company like H&M, but many designers seem to have got away without a scratch. This is why I’ve found myself turning towards the small brands more than ever before, and only trusting companies who are completely transparent with their production. In a world that is getting scarily close to reaching a point of complete self-destruction, industries like the fashion industry need to drastically step up their game, and preaching and pretending about sustainability is not going to cut it.
We need to start thinking more deeply into what we buy and who we buy from. A product may be made out of recycled materials, but is the brand still causing concern for the environment? Do we know enough about that brand to feel reassured that they’re sustainable? If you don’t, don’t buy. That’s your simple 2020 resolution right there.