A question I often get asked is how do I shop more Sustainably? In a recent interview I was asked, What advice would you give young fashionistas about educating themselves on their favorite brands, labor rights and fair wages? Now I thought this was a very important question and so I decided to put this up on the blog for anyone who might want to know how they can make more conscious decisions with their fashion purchases.
I advise for young fashionista's before making any purchase is to do some research into where their clothes come from, how they are made and If there are other Eco brands out there they could wear. So many of the big global retail fashion and beauty giants are still manufacturing goods through sweatshops, testing on animals, mass producing at a ridiculously unsustainable rate and it is costing our earth.
"Each purchase we make or not make, is a statement which shapes the way our world operates and what we want our future to look like".
It seems the problem is when people think of ethical fashion, they immediately think it is limited to drab hippy shirts. This is quite the opposite, there is so much range out there from high end couture, luxury fashion to limited edition pieces which are of an exceptional quality and craftsmanship whilst not compromising on quality or style to suit all different tastes of consumers. Ethical brands are also producing products which are up to date if not fashion forward with trends, therefore paving the way of how we see fashion and what it will mean to us in the future. There are so many eco brands to choose from that with a bit of research you can find the same if not better fashion pieces which will not cost the earth.
Such as: your purchase may help a community thrive through a skills training project giving them a livelihood, give fair trade working conditions, re-use or give purpose to a material which would otherwise become waste ending up in our landfills, revive dying trades and preserving the skills and culture of traditional artisans and craftsman or even provide a uniform to a child to give them access to an education e.g Smile Clothing, the opportunities to make a difference are endless!
Here are a few things you could consider when making your purchase....
- What about the 'real' story behind the clothes I'm buying?
- Who made this?
- Did they earn a decent wage?
- What are the conditions of the environments these people work in?
- Were they of a legal age to even work?
- What was the effect on the environment to manufacture, ship and package the goods?
- Am I encouraging 'fast throw away fashion' or am I making a more concious decision with my purchase?
What types of fashion are Eco friendly?
- Purchasing vintage or preloved fashion, this reuses garments/accessories that would otherwise be wasted ending up in our landfill.
- Turning something old into something new for example by creating something from an old necklace that has broken and re using the beads from it along with other materials you can find that might be wasted. If utilised well and with a bit of creativity, It could be turned into something wonderful. (Ethical DIY Tutorial coming soon on the blog. I have done this with my Mother's old belt from the 80's which I took apart and created new jewellery from a mix of vintage and recycled materials) I will show you all how to do this.
- Certified and non certified organic cotton and other fibers such as bamboo are very eco friendly.
- Fair Trade products which award their employees a fair wage and good working conditions.
- Fashion brands/designers/artists products which have a charitable focus i.e one for one - sustainable giving, with every purchase they donate a school uniform to a child in need (Smile Clothing, Toms Shoes) etc.
- Brands who encourage the use of traditional craftsmanship by using skilled artisans therefore preserving dying trades such as batik, hand weaving and others to name a few).
- Recycled fashion, some brands make clothing out of recycled bottles or other materials.
- Vegan fashion, by wearing non leather goods and faux fur you help discourage the use for animals to be killed merely as a means of fashion so we can look pretty. In turn helping more animals live out their lives without having to be subjected to getting skinned for our pleasure.
Where can I access these types of Eco friendly fashions?
- Op shops and Thrift stores
- Vintage stores
- Vintage, designer, seconda hand, flea markets
- Look online and do some research, some major brands already have an ethical fashion line for example H&M and their 'Conscious Collection'
- Independent Eco boutiques and/or online shops showcasing many ethical/sustainable or vintage fashion brands/designers and their products. EKOLUV of course!
- Peppermint Magazine - A wonderful Fresh, Green Fashion magazine with features on sustainable fashion and a list of wonderful brands or store you can shop from.
- Trade shows and events - Ethical Fashion forum hosts a sustainable fashion event called Estethica showcasing sustainable manufacturers, brands and retail stores from all over the world.
- Becoming a part of the Ethical Fashion Forum Network, you can keep up to date with sustainable fashion and connecting you with brands and resources of information for you to know more.
Top 5 Physical and Online Boutiques where you can purchase eco friendly/sustainable merchandise in Australia (will put up a directory soon of other stores world wide on EKOLUV)
- Biome Eco Stores - A delightful store full of eco friendly/sustainable merchandise and beauty products Brisbane City store -215 Adelaide Street (near Post Office Square & Anzac Square) Brisbane, Qld t: 07 3221 9842 or Paddington store - 2 Latrobe Terrace, Brisbane, Qd t: 07 3368 300.
- Good Concepts - - A fabulous mini emporium of the eco friendly, re-and up-cycled and fair trade goods. 58 Vulture Street, West End, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.
- Going Green Solutions - Eco and Green living store - 946 Main Rd Hurstbridge, VIC 3099 Australia
- EKOLUV - Eco boutique with a committment to Ethical and social Responsibilty specialising in providing unique and leading ethical, sustainable, fair trade, hand made, recycled, diy fashion and lifestyle products.
- Boutique Eco - Western Australias premium destinations for natural fashion, footwear and essentials. The boutiques offer luxurious natural fibres and sustainable products such as merino, cashmere, bamboo, silk, organic cotton and leather.
How do you shop sustainably? I would love to know If any of you have any suggestions I could add. Also feel free to comment on the post below, I will be happy to hear your thoughts/tips.