You’ll be so cool that people walk past and think ‘where did she get that coat from?’. But even better you’d be shopping sustainably.
If you haven’t seen Stacey Dooley’s most recent documentary “Stacey Dooley Investigates: Are your clothes wrecking the planet?” then you may be wondering what shopping ‘sustainably’ means.
What is sustainable fashion?
Also known as ‘eco’ or ‘ethical’ fashion, it is a philosophy and growing trend of selling clothes in a way that doesn’t have an impact on the environment or human manufacturers such as sweatshop workers.
It is a stand against the ‘Fast Fashion’ system – the method of manufacturing clothing designs straight from the catwalk to capture current fashion trends. This generates high amounts of waste and can in turn damage the environment. Fashion comes in seasons, consumers are constantly encouraged to buy new because of the ‘new season’, however, old trends come back around very often, meaning that original vintage items from when they were first in style can be worn, rather than purchasing newly made products.
Items can also be timeless and never go out of style. Recycling clothing in this way has many benefits.
Fashion’s effects on the environment is lethal
The fashion industry is the third most polluting industry in the world, as a lot of the fabrics that clothing is made of are made using harmful chemicals and/or processes. Recycling the clothing means that these processes do not have to occur to create the clothing you buy.
In addition to this, the workers in third world countries who produce the clothing at such a fast pace, and it being sold at such low prices on online sites such as PrettyLittleThing means that they get paid well under the amount they should for their labour, and they are often forced to work in disgracefully unsafe and disgusting conditions. There are also many cases of child labour in these countries.
For one of my projects for my photography degree I went to Brick Lane and Notting Hill in London to photograph people who shop vintage/secondhand and interviewed them on their thoughts about the fashion industry. I met a range of different people, from fashion bloggers to those who had worked in the fashion industry themselves.
I met this lady In Brick Lane. She said she worked in the fashion industry and understood the importance of recycling clothing as the planet is unable to sustain the fashion system. She was wearing vintage clothing herself (and looking amazing if I may add).
This lady said she was wearing an outfit of entirely vintage clothing, she stressed that shopping sustainably is incredibly important as many people in third world countries suffer as they are not paid enough for the manual labour they endure. By shopping second-hand you aren’t supporting the companies that use these workers.
Liv is an Instagram (@liveblankson) fashion blogger and marketing consultant, she mentioned that she really admires the work that H&M do in their campaign to get people to recycle clothing, on their website it states “At H&M group, it is essential for us to address sustainability proactively. We are dedicated to continuing making great fashion and design affordable, by having a circular approach and being a fair and equal company.”
H&M encourages customers to bring old clothing in to be recycled- “Drop off clothes and textiles from ANY brand, in ANY condition” the website states.
So why should you shop vintage and second-hand?
Sustainable fashion is money saving, you will find more unique pieces, you can give to charity, and you won’t be supporting companies/ a system that promote such negative issues. Websites and apps such as DEPOP are becoming very popular in present day, as they are easy ways of shopping second-hand, and it allows people to sell their own clothes too. Vintage shops are becoming increasingly popular, with second-hand clothing becoming re purposed for current fashion trends or wearing trends from the past.
Products bought on the high street are mass produced, meaning many people will have the identical piece, rather than if you buy second-hand, not many people will have that specific piece, especially if it’s vintage. And you’re saving the environment, not supporting sweatshop labour, and looking edgy… so get down to your local charity shop! You can’t go wrong.