Ethical fashion is something you see come up each time the business of fashion and long term implications are discussed. The explosion of fast fashion has created long term negative effects on the economy and environment and accelerated other pre-existing environmental concerns. This is not to mention the negative effects of the wide spread copying by fast fashion labels on premium and luxury design labels. While we are no longer naive to the fact that fast fashion is a phenomenon that has beaten the odds and proven that it has lasting power, we can in our own small ways treat our wallets and world better by embracing simple ethical practices.
Here are five simple ways you can go ethical.
TAKE BETTER CARE OF THE CLOTHES YOU ALREADY OWN
This seems like a no brainer, but in reality because we know that a new t-shirt is about 900 naira on ASOS, we tend to not care for the clothes we have as well as we could. We do not read the care instructions added to the name tag or follow the recommendations for coloureds vs whites, or even bother to store them properly. All of this leads to our clothes suffering more wear and tear than necessary. If we did simple things like laundering our clothes the recommended way and storing them carefully when we aren’t using them, we’d see them last much longer, and have to replace them less often.
SHOP LESS, CHOOSE BETTER
We all have this predilection to go shopping as a form of therapy or just because we feel we need to follow the trends. You actually don’t. It’s okay to have one or two trend setting pieces in your wardrobe, but by and large, your clothes should be trans-seasonal staples, like dress pants, white button down shirts, the odd jacket. That way, when you splurge on an item, you’re sure it won’t be out of season in five months, and ultimately you spend less.
BUY HIGH QUALITY, DURABLE CLOTHING
Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to clothing. This principle is why we can wear our parent’s clothing from the 60’s and 70’s. Because back then, people insisted on durable clothing made from high quality materials that can withstand wear and tear. Many fast fashion labels use very cheap, low quality fabrics as a way to counter costs. Buying those clothes means you have to replace them quicker and ultimately means you spend more in the long run.
BUY VINTAGE OR SECOND HAND
This is something many of us already do, but should do much more of. Most vintage and second hand clothing comes from first world countries where Fast Fashion and overproduction translates to a lot of wasted clothing. By tapping into this market, you can satisfy your passion for clothes and be gentle on your wallet and the planet. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
SUPPORT ETHICAL BRANDS
If you absolutely have to have your designer duds, but vintage/second hand clothes do not do it for you, never fear, there is still a way out. If you’re going to buy premium or high street, ensure you give your hard earned money only to ethical brands. What is an ethical brand? One that can show you that its process of manufacturing is fair to its workers and the environment. Labels that do not exploit their workers, or produce with substandard materials to increase profits need your financial encouragement to keep doing what they’re doing. Do not let them down.
See, going ethical is pretty easy, there’s a way in for anyone.