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Style and sustainability

22 November 2018

I’ll be the first to put my hand up to say that, quite frankly, I couldn’t define sustainability even if I tried. However, I could hazard a guess that the fast fashion we all purchase in a careless, hypodermic manner probably doesn’t fit the bill. Perhaps, like me, your intentions are good but you require a little educating on this topic so that you’re able to make better choices as a conscious consumer.

There are so many questions that I have about sustainability: Does it mean that I can only wear hemp from here on in? Am I to refrain from washing my clothes forever more? The answer, thank goodness, is no.

 

So, let’s start from the top, shall we? What does sustainability mean?

It can be surmised that sustainability is the status achieved by meeting the needs of the current consumer without compromising how future generations will be able to meet theirs. So, bear with me, brands that claim sustainability must actively balance both the short and long-term supply and demand of their resources, without putting the planet, their workers or the population at stake. Many of us might suggest that sustainability is closely linked to environmental issues, but it’s less common knowledge that both economic and social issues are also concerned.

Brands that are striving to produce sustainable products are not only efficient with their resources (from materials, to dyes to the methods used) but are also actively bettering their practices to benefit the economic standing, as well as paying and treating each staff member fairly and providing safe and comfortable working conditions.

 

What do I need to look for when shopping sustainably?

Naturally, the most sustainable way to shop would be to refrain from it all together, but let’s be realistic here. We can and will continue to shop, but being educated on the environmental, social and economic impacts that a brand has on the planet may induce thought and consideration before dashing to the checkout.

Ask yourself if you’re realistically going to wear the garment that you’re holding in your hand far more than once. Will it transition nicely from season to season? Does it complement your jackets and shoes? Is it a high-quality garment that will stand the test of time? And most importantly, does the brand commit itself to sustainable practices? Information regarding the latter will always be readily available on the websites of those brands who are proud of their efforts towards obtaining sustainability.

 

Can sustainability ever be stylish?

In our defence, sort of, brands have long struggled to create a balance of sustainability and aesthetic. This has been an issue because as consumers, we’re largely unwilling to compromise on style, accessibility and price. Today, there’s simply no excuse; gorgeously stylish garments can now be conveniently purchased online and on the high street, at prices that are now able to compete with non-sustainable options.

Sustainability isn’t a short-lived trend, it’s certainly here to stay, so you can rest assured that your next sustainable investment will never go out of style.

Where can I shop sustainably?

Sustainable brands used to be extremely few and far between, meaning that consumers would seal the deal with a convenient high street options instead. We’re all a little guilty of this, right?

But hold up because today, brands such as Kowtow, Edun and People Tree cover every style that we could ever desire, making sustainable shopping a whole lot easier for all of us. Fashion brand ‘Reformation’ can name every single person who’s involved in making their clothes, and that’s certainly something that we can get behind.

 

What steps can I take to be more sustainable?

Where possible, try and avoid trend-driven garments. Instead, opt for capsule pieces that have the scope to be worn across the seasons.

Shop second hand. We’re actually spoilt for choice with second hand stores, so save a garment from the landfill.

Get your most stylish friends together for a wardrobe swap.

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