5 Steps In Building an Ethical Wardrobe

Many people want to build a more consciously curated wardrobe, but are not sure where to start. Here are a few tips to help you get started. The biggest part to conquer is a mindset shift. Once you reprogram your thoughts and beliefs around shopping, the rest will be easy. It also takes a fair degree of preplanning since most of what you will find is not in the malls. Here we go!

1. WHAT YOU HAVE IS WHERE YOU START.

It’s great that we have decided to be more conscious of our purchases, but that doesn’t mean we need to throw everything that was unethically made or not sustainable out of our wardrobes.  That would be doing the opposite.  Part of sustainability is longevity in our purchases, so if there are things in your wardrobe that can last you many more years and many more wears that’s fantastic!  That’s the goal.  So, start shopping your wardrobe!   The majority of people only wear 20% of their wardrobe.  Try to rediscover pieces you haven’t worn in a long time and find new ways to pair pieces with different combinations.  It will start to feel like you have a brand new wardrobe! 

2. BUY LESS, CHOOSE WELL.

The fast fashion industry has done a number on our minds of what we ‘think’ we need.  Gone are the days of two fashion seasons ‘Spring/Summer’ and ‘Fall/Winter’. They are now churning out 52 micro-seasons a year, releasing new trends on a weekly basis.  It has created a ‘want’ society that gets us hooked on very low prices, low-quality products.

The question is how do we break this cycle? Start shifting your thinking from fast to slow. The slow fashion movement brings consciousness to our purchases and advocates for good quality, clean environment, and fairness throughout the supply chain. Look for the quality in pieces you would wear for years. Ask yourself ‘why’ before you buy. Develop a style rather than following trends. A lot of people don’t realize that there’s a difference between fashion and style. The difference, as Yves Saint Laurent so beautifully put it, is that “fashion fades, style is forever”. Fashion is a fad or trend that doesn’t last long. It’s a never-ending cycle chasing the newest fad, not to mention a drain on your pocket. Style doesn’t need to follow those rules and is unique to you and timeless.

3. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

All else aside, buying any clothing item that is high quality is more eco-friendly than buying cheap, disposable fashion.  More often than not, the quality and price are tied together.  Things that are higher quality will have spent more on better quality raw materials and quality production and design.  These types of brands invest in the process.  However, a high price does not always mean high quality.   So, you have to be careful.  Fabric and stitching is the best indicator of quality.  Every type of fabric comes in different quality levels.  High-quality fabric is one that will last, not shrink, not pill,  has a great drape, feel and texture. There should be neat seams and stitching.  To learn more about sustainable fabrics and what to look for, click here: Fabric 101

4. START SHOPPING VINTAGE/SECOND HAND!  

This is an area I have really grown to love and embrace.  It’s an experience you just cannot get in the mall where there are hundreds of items of the same piece.  This is a finders keepers kind of hunt! It’s like finding a hidden treasure 🙂

Here are some not so fun stats for you:

  • consumers buy 60% more pieces of clothing compared to 15 years ago.  Yet each clothing item is kept half as long
  • North Americans send 10 million tonnes of clothing to the landfill every year â€” most of which could be reused or recycled
  • Canada alone produces enough textile waste — clothing and other goods like upholstery — to create a mountain three times the size of Toronto’s Rogers Centre stadium.

So, what does this all mean?  By giving a garment a second life you are not contributing to the cycle of mass production and you are saving a garment from the landfill.  Second-hand clothes also utilize no additional resources to create other than transportation.  You can find second-hand stores that cater to literally EVERY budget.  Thrift stores and charity shops are very budget-friendly, while luxury consignment stores cater to luxury shoppers.  Sometimes you want to dabble in both.  You want to splurge on a gorgeous vintage Chanel bag or you want to supplement some pieces in your wardrobe with some budget-friendly options.  It’s all good! And it’s all sustainable!

5. SUPPORT ETHICAL BRANDS 

With the Fashion Revolution Movement making strong ripples through the fashion industry, there has been an influx of some amazing brands defying the concept of fast fashion and what it stands for.  These are mindful brands, consciously curating collections that respect both the people making the clothes and the planet.  They have these ethics built into the very philosophy of their mission.

Eco-Fashion used to have a very rough, unfashionable connotation to it, but it has made leaping bounds.  Every year there is newer, better innovation in eco textiles that designers are able to keep fashion and design at the forefront of the appeal.

So, when we do shop, supporting these brands is like joining the conversation and contributing to an investment in our future and that of garment workers globally.

You can check out my collection of ethical and sustainable, made in Canada pieces here: www.truvogue.com

I hope you found this useful.  If you did, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂

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