No doubt you’ve heard of the impact fast fashion is having on the planet by now, but what can you do about it? Steve Cochrane, Managing Director of designer clothing retailer Psyche, explains how you can change your shopping habits to be more sustainable.
Britain is world-famous for quirky fashion. We love to shop, but with rising environmental concerns, the price of staying stylish is becoming increasingly difficult to pay.
We turn to stores that can turn out the latest clothing quickly and cheaply so that we can wear and discard our clothes to keep up with current trends. But this ‘fast fashion’ almost always comes with a massive carbon footprint, from the factories that produce it to the vehicles that ship it in vast quantities (Vox).
And, that’s not to mention the ethical considerations of animal cruelty and human slavery associated with cheap materials and labour that contribute to how unsustainable the industry really is (The Conversation).
With the world becoming more and more eco-conscious, it’s important to wise up on sustainable fashion and make sure we’re doing everything we can to reduce the environmental impact of our shopping habits. Below, I’ll be taking you through what’s being done in the industry and how building a capsule wardrobe can help.
How is the fashion industry adapting to help the environment?
It seems like the fashion industry is first looking to reduce its impact by sourcing sustainable options for materials, like cotton, and dropping exotic animal skins. Many designers are also developing new energy, water, and chemical-saving practices that are more efficient and have less of an impact on the environment.
Most importantly, key players in the fashion industry are starting to design for longevity, which means they are producing clothes that are built to last rather than fall apart quickly. They’re also focussing on circular economy principles, which is where ‘waste’ is recycled back into the process. In fashion, this is done by consumers donating their old clothes at collection points, which the industry then reuses.
Designers like Vivienne Westwood have been vocal about the importance of eco-friendly fashion for decades. But, in recent years, other major designers have begun adapting to sustainable trends too. This is putting pressure on the big fashion houses to invest in sustainability going forward (CPP Luxury), so it’s more mainstream than it was before.
Even major high street stores are taking responsibility by providing sustainable ranges for the general public alongside their usual stock. Many have set up collection points in their stores so that customers can bring back their old unwanted clothes to be recycled, aiming to become 100% circular in the near future (Carbon Trust).
How can consumers help?
With more and more of us are showing a growing interest in environmental issues, we are slowly starting to change the way we shop and prioritise quality clothing over quantity. So, one of the ways you can stop supporting fast fashion is to build a capsule collection. These are made up of versatile, well-made essentials that can be combined in lots of different ways to create new looks, meaning you don’t have to keep purchasing outfits to stay on trend.
The basic rule for building a capsule wardrobe is to try to have no more than one or two of each article of clothing, including trousers, shorts, maxi skirts, miniskirts, vest tops, jumpers, cardigans, button down shirts, t-shirts, and long-sleeved t-shirts. That should provide you with more than enough options to work with.
You may be wondering what to do about seasonal clothing. Your summer staples are probably totally different from your winter essentials, so it’s worth building a few capsules rather than just one. But rather than throwing or giving away your collections at the end of the season, store them instead. That way, you can bring them out again next year when the weather changes.
How to style your outfits using the same garments time and again
One of the ways you can re-style your outfits and keep your looks fresh is to focus on layers. An oversized button-down shirt, for example, can be worn in many ways, including:
- Open with a top or dress underneath
- Half buttoned, half knotted
- Sleeves rolled up or down
- Top button done up or not
- Under a jacket, jumper or dress
- Buttoned halfway and off the shoulder
- Tied around the waist
- Tucked or untucked
- Under a short sleeved or crop top
It’s also important to remember how attention to detail can affect your overall look. Your oversized shirt can appear totally different depending on whether it’s worn with chunky or fine jewellery, or whether it’s belted or not. So, it’s easier than you might think to create new outfits using the same clothing if you get creative.
Fast fashion is a big problem, and while the industry is becoming more sustainable, there’s a few changes that we need to make to our shopping habits to reduce the environmental impact of our wardrobes. The tips in this guide can help you develop a capsule collection, which should begin to change the way you think about clothes.