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About Sustainable Fashion and being a Conscious Consumer

I feel like the world is changing faster than I can say ‘I’, with the push to a plastic free society and the move towards sustainable living, I’m sometimes wondering what happened to the days of smoking packs of cigarettes in order to look cool. But while the global shift in a more positive direction is one to be proud of (millennials I’m looking at you) it’s also one to be careful of when it comes to advertising and jumping on trends. I’ve noticed this shortly after the passing of the Feminist t-shirt trend (which you’ll see down below), where it was cool to be proud of being a feminist, and brands didn’t hesitate to sell you pretty fashionable pieces to muster up your intersectional feminist self as you believed you were spending your money in the way of good deeds. Too far? Haha maybe, but listening to the views of this trend of whether companies were actually supporting women in this new market was interesting. Questions came up, like whether the designer was a woman or maybe the photographer for those campaigns, or did any of the proceeds of those sales go to aiding underprivileged and disadvantaged women in some form. And these are all good questions we should be asking, but the answers I’m afraid remain a mystery as the lack of transparency by brands is not something we’ve actively pushed for as a society. Well, not yet. The advent of sustainable fashion brands and local designers are up & coming and will very soon be all we want to be purchasing as consumers, but let’s not purchase just yet.

Let’s think about this. As the drive towards a sustainable lifestyle becomes more fashionable, you’ll soon see more and more fashion pieces with some amazingly sourced material at a bit of an expense compared to your poly blends, which by the way I try to stay clear of, because polyester is good for no-one. But the fact is we will and are already paying a pretty penny for sustainable fashion pieces, and as the trend gets more attention, we’ll be paying even more. So the choice will come down to, to use an analogy, do you want that McDonald’s meal or that 1 organic vegetable because they are basically the same price. My point is this, for that one piece of clothing that is produced from ethically sourced fabrics, made in an environment where the workers are paid and treated fairly, you could probably buy the whole of Zara. Okay, that’s an over exaggeration but it probably will feel like it one day. So before you consider sustainable fashion as your be all and end all of your shopping experience and be ahead of the trend, let’s be conscious consumers first. 

Conscious consuming is a thought process. We often define it in terms of ‘what’ we are buying, by checking the labels, finding out which fabrics are good enough, in which country the item of clothing was manufactured, all those good things. It’s synonymous with ethical fashion and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. It’s something we’re already doing when it comes to the food we are eating. I was reading food labels meticulously when I started the keto diet in January. It’s about knowing what you’re consuming. It’s about being aware of your habits and knowing what’s good for you. And yes this is a good trend that has developed over recent years but because we are in such a consumer driven world, be careful not to just consume sustainable fashion just for the sake of. We should also be asking ourselves why we’re consuming. The idea of sustainable living is that we consume less, not that we consume tons of ethically produced items, it’s that we consume just enough to meet our needs and have those few items be of good value to ourselves and to the environment. 

So how can one be a conscious consumer when it comes to sustainable fashion? Well first, just stop buying shit. That is already an act of service to the environment and maybe even to your own mental health. We consume far more than we need to and all the clutter has a negative effect on all of us. Get rid of some stuff too, or a lot! Send all of your unused clothes to a charity and hey you might even feel good about it. Yay for mental health! Strip down your closet to the things you KNOW you’ll wear and styling your outfits become easier in the mornings. Yay for productivity! This is a perfect way to shop your closet and bring back older more nostalgic pieces, even if they’re no longer on trend, if you still like it then wear it. This is also the time to be a proud outfit repeater. If you’re pieces are lasting for years and years then you know you’ve already been making good choices when it comes to sustainable fashion (except for polyester, that shit lasts forever and will never die). Also, shop your friend’s closet, or your sis/bro’s closet and do a swap. I find that as we’ve got older it’s much easier to pass things along. This leather coat I’m wearing I got from a friend when doing a swap (jackets for jeans – yaayyy). Yes, you can fight with me about how leather is not ethically produced, but this is how we consume less of it, by passing it a long, by giving it a new home. And lastly, do an internet search of local designers in your area, chances are that they are producing sustainable fashion pieces that is also ethically manufactured and who are making positive changes to the industry. This handbag I’m wearing is from Mors Design who are literally crafting bags out of recycled tyre tube. There are so many interesting and innovative designers out there that you can support when you do feel it’s time to make a new purchase, because we all know, you really want to. That’s why you’re reading a fashion blog right? Jokes!

Outfit Details: Jeans – Country Road, T-shirt – H&M, Handbag – Mors Design

Photography by Achmat Booley

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