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Sustainable Fashion - Tips for making your wardrobe more sustainable

Something a little more thought provoking this week on the blog: a topic that has started some big conversations particularly within the world of fashion....Sustainable fashion. In no way a new topic, I think the world has been aware that fast fashion is having a negative effect on the planet for a while now, but the BBC documentary "Fashion's Dirty Secrets", shown last year, presented by Stacey Dooley has opened Pandoras box and now it is something that everyone has taken note of and some major changes are afoot. I recently watched a great YouTube video on buying sustainable fashion, by the amazing IntheFrow which really made me think about my own relationship with fast fashion and inspired this post....

Before we dive in and discuss - What is Sustainable Fashion? 

"Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. This means dealing with interdependent social, cultural, ecological and financial systems. It also means considering fashion from the perspective of many stakeholders - users and producers, all living species, contemporary and future dwellers on earth." - Wikipedia
I think the fashion industry, teamed with the phenominon that is social media has a lot to answer for - it has the power to do so much good, but on the flip side has also started to do some damage. Most influncers are all about showing us new and pretty things, encouraging us to buy (who hasn't bought at least one thing from a post you've seen on Instagram???) and that mentality teamed with fast fashion so readily avaliable, means people are buying at an alarming rate. Entry price point retailers such as Primark are thriving because of how cheap pieces are - who wants to spend £50 on a dress for their holiday when they can pick one up for £13, this along with celebrity collaborations & endorsements makes that new Saturday night outfit affordable and achieveable. Some people take this to extremes: I recently served a customer and we got chatting about how she is trying to buy less and how a friend of hers will happily buy an ENTIRE new wardrobe for every holiday she goes on from Primark and will simply leave it all in the hotel once the holiday is over! I know its cheap but how crazy is that - I am sure we all like to get a few new bits for our holiday but literally wearing once and then throwing away is a prime example of how crazy fast fashion has got and that things need to change.

I think on the British highstreet Primark is the store that most people will buy fast fashion from, with dirt cheap prices, crazy trends are so accessible and if you only wear once so be it. Now I will admit I love me a bit of Primarni, however over the last few years my consumption of cheap clothes has decreased, I still buy PJ's, accessories and kids clothing in there (little man grows to quick, it seems daft to spend lots of money on basics like joggers & tshirts) but I can't remember the last time I bought clothes for myself - the quality over quantity mentality has definetly kicked in for me. Don't get me wrong though, I will not be rushing out and only buying pieces from sustainable brands (mainly because those who are truly sustainable are also very expensive!) but I will be trying to make a conscious decision to not buy into mass produced garments so much and embrace the wardrobe I have.

My first challenge is to tackle my wardrobe and split it into Keep, Recycle and Throw away, so that I know exactly what I have to work with, then trying to follow the below tips to keep my wardrobe as sustainable as it can be....


1. Wear you wardrobe // Such a simple start to cutting down on buying into fast fashion. You probably have many things in there you haven't worn in ages - we all do! So dig them out, style them up and give them a new lease of life. Fashion is about showing your personality, something you can't do as well if everyone is wearing the same Zara dress or Topshop boots! I have so many pieces in my wardrobe that I love but don't wear, so actually quite excited to try out some new combinations and remember don't be afraid to dig out those unexpected pieces, like wear sequins during the day.

2. Recycle // Once you are done with a garment, don't just bin it (unless it is truly unwearable) take it to your local charity shop/clothing bank or sell it on to someone else to enjoy. One womans trash is another womans treasure....share the love.

3. Charity Shops // Branch out and try something new. I used to shop in charity shops a lot when I was at Uni and I had forgotten the thrill you can get when you find something exciting and unexpected. Perhaps something designer or from a brand you love but can't afford. If you know where to look this is a great sustainable way to add newness to your wardrobe and give a garment a second chance at life. My only advice would be give yourself time to rummage, you will need to dig deep to find the gems.

4. Swap with friends // The perfect excuse to get the girls over, share some prosecco and get some new clothes at the same time. Obviously a little more limiting in terms of sizing, but worth a try.

5. Head online // Regularly check Ebay, Facebook marketplace and sites such as Depop, where you can find some many great pieces secondhand, this is something I do a lot - I can often find pieces that I wasn't able to find in stores or that sold out quickly, usually in good condition at a fraction of the origional price. I find this a useful resource especially for brands that are usually out of my price range.

6. Be consious when you buy // Can you honestly imagine wearing this new top 50-100 times? this is the question you need to ask yourself when buying new. These days I like to use the rule of three when I shop....I have to be able to mentally style the item at least 3 ways within my exisiting wardrobe, if I can I am allowed to buy, if not then put it back. The only time I will deviate from this rule is if it something special that I have fallen head over heels for....this doesnt happen often so i allow myself. You need to feel joy for every piece in your wardrobe for it to be an item you will keep for years.

And finally making your own clothes.....but lets be honest most of us do no have the time or skills to be creating our own wardrobe, but if you can - do it! Sustainable & unique.

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To finish off this post, I wanted to share just how possible it is to live your wardrobe.....
I met a customer in Mint Velvet recently who fully truly embodies the sustainable ethos I believe we should all be aiming for. She is in her late 60's and is one of the chicest ladies I have ever met. I got chatting with her after complimenting her outfit....head to tone in shades of gorgeous camel with a stunning classic Burberry trench draped effortlessly on her shoulders. She was more than happy to share that her trench, along with most of the pieces she was wearing were actually charity shop finds. She rarely purchases new items of clothing, opting to rummage and find gorgeous gems in the charity shops around the UK. She does buy new, but only when she needs to, prefering to really shop her wardrobe and find new combinations for pieces she has had in there for years. She is also a strong advocate for continuing the life cycle of a garment, and will always donate when she is done with a piece. This approach is what I would love to see more people adopt, even if it was only for a few pieces....I take a lot of items to the charity shop but very rarely find gems that I want to rehome, but that is going to be my fashion mission for this year.

A longer post than I normally write, but I hope it has been food for thought and has left you thinking about your wardrobe and whether you could make more sustainable decisions when you buy new pieces. Not aimed to shame people for shopping in Primark (I still do), or make you buy only sustainable designer pieces, but to make you think a little more before buying lots of cheap fast fashion without a thought to how it affects the enviroment and the world we live in. While consumers can make a difference through purchasing habits, retailers & brands have also got to step up to the plate and make changes - this can be as small as looking at their delivery packaging (some of the highend retailers give you the choice to recieve your order in reduced packaging, so no unnecessary plastic), working with factories to ensure ethical process are adhered too, as well as considering eco friendly fabrics, even recycled fibres to produce garments. I believe it is much harder for established brands to make changes to how they have always done things, so it is even more important that new emerging brands are set up with this sustainable ethos behind them from the start, so that going forward the fashion industry is aware, informed and hopefully making a difference to the world that our children & grandchildren will grow up in..

Would love this to open up a dialogue and hear back from readers about their thoughts on this topic and any tips you have for making the most out of fashion...

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