Ever since I remember, I have loved clothes. They have always been my form of self-expression, exercise in identity and creativity. I have mostly bought them abroad and took them home as a souvenirs, inherited them from my mum, ordered online for a specific occasion or had them made-to-measure for me only. Therefore they serve as living memories, treasures that I use and love. But they are also much more than that. While those deliberate purchases form my style, they are today more than ever assembled into a declaration of my values.
Times changed and so did the fashion industry. Many fast-fashion as well as luxury companies nowadays have a long history of sweatshop labour, dangerous working conditions, ethical and environmental issues raised in their supply chains accompanied by distraction marketing methods, empty promises and outright lies. And the only thing that can transform the industry are our buying decisions. We all have the power to make the change. And it is actually pretty simple.
Follow these tips to become a more mindful fashion consumer:
Harmony between comfort, practicality and style is the main concept behind Studio August’s design process. Particular importance is attached to careful choice of natural materials and attention to all steps of the manufacturing process. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified fabric mills and sustainable fabric fairs are the cornerstone of Studio August’s fabric sourcing.
1. Take care of the clothes you already own
Taking care of your clothes is the most basic and for sure the best thing you can do right away to become a more mindful consumer. Always check the care tags and follow the instructions. Handwash and don’t tumble dry delicate fabrics, never hang heavy sweaters, repair a rip or missing button, take the stained piece to the dry cleaners, the list goes on. Clothes that are well-taken care of last longer and need to be replaced less often.
2. Buy less, choose well
The quote by Vivienne Westwood “buy less, choose well and make it last” is acually pretty self-explanatory. Buying clothes that are well-made of high-quality materials is more eco-friendly because they last longer and do not need to be replaced so often. Stay reasonable, resist buying things with impossibly low pricetags and avoid the buy-and-toss behaviour. Those clothes you bought impulsly might have been cheap to you, but once you add to them their real cost someone else had to pay, you see that cheap in fashion simply doesn’t exist.
3. Calculate your cost per wear
The real worth of piece of clothing is actually a pretty subjective thing. The sales tag isn’t the only one you need to consider, rather think how often you will actually wear it. Before buying any new item, do the math: divide how much an item of clothing costs by the number of times you plan to wear it. It might turn out that the 200 eur dress you will wear 20 times is a much better buy than the 20 eur one you will wear only once.
Joanna Organisciak is young designer based in Poland. Characteristic style of her brand Organisciak is unique combination of classic and modern, deconstruction of traditional forms and ambiguity. Easy yet elegant shirts and dresses fulfill the mission to bring an avant-garde twist to classic silhouettes. Created forms in highly limited palette of colors, are focused on considered details and have become an Organisciak signature.
4. Be curious, ask questions
Start looking at your clothes differently. Instead of only asking yourself “Does this piece look great on me?”, rather answer some of these questions: Who made these clothes? What materials were used? Where did the they come from? Where were they made? What’s it like to work there? What are the worker’s lives like? Being interested in the answers to these kinds of questions is the best first step towards changing the story for the people who make our clothes.
5. Learn about the textiles
Do the research and learn about the fabric production. Choose brands that use recycled fibres and opt for sustainable options, like hemp, organic cotton, Tencel etc., unlike mainstream fashion that mostly uses elastics, nylon and polyester that contain plastic. And we all know that when thrown away, plastic does not compost – it sits in soil and floats in the oceans forever.
Janja Videc operates socially responsible, local and sustainable. Avoiding the seasonal changes, brand is based on a monochromatic color scale, well thought tailoring and geometrically shaped patterns and is consequently wearable in many different ways, anytime of the year.
6. Support local designers
Small independent brands with sustainable production models are becoming more and more available. They ignore the insane fashion cycle, create pieces that can be worn all year round or produce smaller collections per season. The small independent brands usually produce their clothing close to their stores, in their local environment and avoid the staggering CO2 emissions caused by shipping garments over the globe. So with every purchase you make you support craftsmanship in the region and enable your local designers to grow.
Check the selection of our independent designers in our shop.
7. Buy vintage or second-hand
Buying vintage or second-hand clothing is another great, budget-friendly alternative to buying new clothing. By buying pre-worn clothes, you extend the lifetime of clothes and reduce the negative environmental impact. Additionally vintage boutiques and online marketplaces hide some truly unique treasures, you will not find anywhere else!
8. Swap, share, hire
Every now and than you still need a fashion fix, I get it. But rather than buying new clothing, consider organizing a swap party, sharing clothing with your friends or simply hiring them. More affordable and way more entertaining than shopping spree!
9. DIY – do it yourself!
If you’ve fallen out of love with a piece of clothing, don’t throw it out, change it. Learn the basics of sewing, so you will be able to repair a rip or a missing button, tailor clothes to a different shape, add new embellishments or dye it a different colour.
10. Join the revolution
Fashion Revolution, organisation that challenges the fashion industry to provide greater transparency, safer work places, fair pay and adresses its environmental issues, is active already in more than 90 countries. Tens of thousands of people get involved each year into their Fashion Revolution Week, asking brands #whomademyclothes on social media. Find out more and take part at fashionrevolution.org!
Written by Sandra Gubenšek
Featured image: Shaina Mote via the Dresyln, other images by Studio August, Joanna Organisciak and Janja Videc.