So, you want to be a more conscious consumer & shopper, but where do you start? Learning all you can about fast fashion and ethical brands is great – but it can also be time-consuming, especially when you just want to buy a pair of jeans or a great swimsuit without devoting hours to the search. Luckily, breaking down the main issues and finding key things to look for can help. This way, we can feel a little more enlightened about all things “eco-fashion”, do good for the planet, and still enjoy shopping for great sustainable fashion. To learn more about why eco-friendly clothes are so important, and the best ways to shop sustainably while still have fun with it all, we invite you to delve into this important topic. Armed with this high-level information, you may feel compelled to dig deeper into the issues that matter most to you – and to that, we say, go for it!
Why is sustainability important?
Sustainability in fashion is critical for many reasons. Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual carbon emissions globally? That is more than all maritime shipping and international carbon emission combined! On top of that, the fashion industry is said to produce 20% of the world’s waste. According to scientists, the next 10 years could be the most critical for reversing the course of these concerning realities. This is serious stuff.
Today, many leaders in the industry are calling out important ways to improve fashion’s footprint, including areas of focus such as; utilizing regenerative agriculture, decreasing c02 emissions, ending the use of toxic materials such as microplastics, harnessing alternative energy, recycling waste products, and turning them into usable fibers and products, increasing the prevalence of fair trade practices and ending human exploitation, as well as reworking business models into circular economy systems. Sustainability is important in order to support the planet and to also support those who create what we wear with fair wages and safe working conditions.
The main takeaway? Sustainability benefits everyone. We can all affect change and make a real difference by investing in companies and brands that are forging a sustainable path forward. Feel good and do good with fashion? Sounds like a win-win scenario.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion applies to the fashion system in its totality, ranging from ecological, financial, cultural, and social issues. It is a framework that addresses the need for integrity throughout the many facets of textile and product production and explores and finds ways to improve upon aspects of the material, production, design, and more.
When figuring out how to shop sustainable fashion, here are a few areas that are most commonly focused on:
- Responsibly-Sourced Materials
- Low Carbon Footprint
- Responsible & Alternative Energy Consumption
- Fair Trade Policies
- Regenerative Agriculture
- Transparency in Supply Chain
- Quality & Product
- Indigenous and Localized Community Impacts
- Slow Fashion vs. Fast Fashion
Where can I shop for sustainable clothing & accessories?
From high end to budget-friendly, sustainable fashion has become more accessible than ever. And once you find your favorite brands or shops, we recommend having fun with recycling your clothing, trading garments with friends, and getting as much use out of the pieces you love, rather than over-buying. You may be surprised how long your well-loved pieces last, and how much more meaning they carry when you put more thought into your sustainable fashion purchases. If you are wondering how and where to buy sustainable clothing, then look no further.
- Shoes that are designed with social and environmental responsibility, while also being stylish and functional. Sneakers work for streetwear and exercise, sizing for children and adults.
- Utilizing a significant amount of eco-friendly materials and limiting chemical, water, and wastewater in production, Veja continually improves their sourcing and production methods to reflect highly sustainable principles. Some refer to Veja as ‘the world’s most sustainable sneaker brand’.
- Swimwear & Activewear
- Bikinis, surf suits, and activewear designed to perform exceptionally and look incredible on. Beautifully designed while offering superior performance, pieces are built for action while still feeling feminine and sexy. Subtle, thoughtful features and a loyal eco-conscious community make this brand especially noteworthy and earth-friendly.
- Vivida’s swim and activewear line is made from recycled, post-consumer plastic bottles. They also work with the United Nations to help drive industry sustainability initiatives globally. Other areas of focus include utilizing GOTS certified cotton, wind energy, eco-neoprene made of recycled rubber tires, and the use of low impact dyes and non-toxic glues in high-performance gear built for the water and beyond.
- Lounge & Streetwear
- Comfortable basics in simple colors to mix and match and wear anywhere. Easy fit, affordable, and made for all ages.
PACT works with a Fair-Trade certified factory that creates products from GOTS certified organic cotton, which means no harmful chemicals. A great example of how to make sustainable fashion affordable.
- Women’s High Fashion
- High-end clothing and accessories designed and created with extreme attention to detail and tailoring.
- Working on numerous initiatives to ensure their products do not exploit natural resources, Stella McCartney has reduced the use of oil-based synthetic material and makes sure to use cotton that is not sourced from endangered forests. They also keep an extensive supplier database that meets only the highest standards in sustainability and quality.
- Denim Clothing
- Clothing for men and women that ranges from tees and dresses to jackets and pants, with an emphasis on denim. Easy, wearable, and high quality.
- Outland utilizes a high proportion of eco materials, including low impact dyes and GOTS certified cotton to produce their denim products. They also limit water usage and harmful chemicals. Additionally, they provide employment opportunities to women of Cambodia who have been trafficked, offering them a fair living wage.
- Men’s Fashion
- Ethical clothing for men, including t-shirts, coats, jeans, sweatshirts, and more.
- This company focuses on creating a positive social and environmental impact by working with wind-powered factories, operating with transparent supply chains, and ensuring fair and safe labor conditions.
Luxurious, but more affordable than your average high-quality knitwear. From sweaters and matching sets to dresses and elevated loungewear.
Focused on improving transparency, especially in the often, over-priced cashmere market, the founders pay nomadic herders 50% more than industry standards and cut out middlemen in their direct-to-consumer model.
Leather Goods, Accessories & Clothing
A combination of chic apparel and accessories for a modern wardrobe. Women’s bags, jewelry, and items easily integrated into any wardrobe as go-to staples.
Cuyana works with global craftspeople to support local communities and minimizes their carbon footprint by sourcing materials in close proximity to their manufacturing facilities.
Alternative ways to dress sustainably on a budget
It’s not difficult to learn how to clothes shop sustainably. Once you learn a few hacks and mix and match strategies, you’ll find it can be quite fun. Aside from buying new clothes & accessories, here are some other ways to score great finds, sustainably.
Spearhead regular meetups with your friends and acquaintances to bring clothes you no longer love and swap for new-to-you items.
REIMAGINE EXISTING CLOTHING
If you’re feeling creative, discover new ways to wear old items you’ve outgrown or become tired with. Pants can become shorts, old cotton tees can be reimagined into a cool headscarf, and that boyfriend shirt could be cropped and cinched at the waist for a fresh look.
If you’re looking for sustainable fashion cheap, this is the place to go. Not only is it an ultra-affordable option, but you’ll also find unique and one of a kind pieces that will elevate your wardrobe in cool and unexpected ways.
Services such as Rent the Runway and Nuuly have become the new go-to sources for great fashion that you don’t need to own to wear. These are especially great when you need that killer black dress or meeting attire that you know you’ll only wear once.
About The Author
Vivida Lifestyle seeks to build the best and most sustainable activewear and accessories for watersports, yoga, and life. Vivida supports a global community of like-minded individuals that inspire and empower one another to live balanced, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyles doing what they love. Focused on supporting the earth and serving as an example for the industry, Vivida has signed on with the United Nations in helping to create a Global Climate Action Plan for the Fashion Industry. They also work with some of the most sustainable, innovative, and transparent manufacturing methods, materials, and facilities available today.