Fast Fashion has enabled millions of budget-conscious stylistas the world over to frequently update and refresh their wardrobes for little cost. But is the environment ultimately paying the price?
With major brands now embracing more eco-friendly materials and production methods, in her latest article, Nottingham designer and stylist, Susi Henson, suggests that a combination of new, recycled and re-imagined clothes, along with careful maintenance is recipe for Lasting Fashion…
The world of fashion is changing rapidly. Climate change, the corona virus and uncertain economic times amongst an array of other social and environmental issues, means there are huge changes for us and indeed every industry ahead. Where does fashion fit into all of this? And what can you do to do your bit?
With tons of clothing going into landfill globally every day, a large proportion of this containing plastics, sustainability should be at the forefront of every consumers mind. No one can escape the information out there these days on what global consumption is doing to the planet but we can as consumers shop more carefully, take care of our clothes so they last longer, upcycle/recycle and support the second hand market.
Here are some tips on how you can do your bit:
Fast fashion has dominated the High Street for so long now, but shoppers have become more clued up over recent years about unethical manufacturing practices behind the scenes, as well as the culture of buying cheap disposable clothes that last a few wears before they end up in the landfill. Creating a seasonal capsule wardrobe so you can see what you have, what goes with what makes every day dressing so much easier. That way it’s easier to spot the gaps in your wardrobe and helps you focus on what you need to buy to complete your capsule collection, rather than making random shopping mistakes which we all do. If you’re looking for an ‘occasion’ outfit or dress that may only get a few outings for a wedding or party, think about buying something plain that can be dressed up differently with accessories. If your outfit contains a jacket, go for a style you could wear with other things.
There’s inspiration a-plenty on platforms such as Pinterest that will give you guidance on creating a capsule wardrobe that suits you and your lifestyle. Not only does this help with buying less but this also means that if you are buying less you can buy better quality. Investing in classic items or ‘must have’ gorgeous pieces that you know will last longer with less going in landfill. Accessories are a great way to update tired items in your wardrobe or to give you a pop of colour. So, don’t rule these out as an alternative to a new item of clothing.
There are also plenty of brands out there doing their bit for Eco fashion, whether by selling organic and Fairtrade cotton garments or operating ethical manufacturing practices through to using recycled plastics. In The Exchange you can find brands with an ethical conscience at Tutu Urban Boutique, while Dr Martens have a collection of footwear and accessories in vegan leather.
Looking After Your Clothes So They Last Longer
How many of us just bung a pile of washing in the machine without sorting it properly? Or set the machine on a 40-degree wash without reading the label? We have all done it. But if we look after our clothes properly by caring for them correctly, they will stay in better condition for longer. Most clothes can be washed at 30 degrees and this is a much kinder temperature to fabrics. Washing clothes inside out will stop the fabric pilling (little bobbles on the fabric) so much on the outside and also preserve the colours and prints. For items in your wardrobe that are knitted, or delicates such as underwear and hand wash-only items, wash these on the appropriate hand wash or woollen settings using a gentle detergent such as liquid soap flakes. Washing bras inside a pillow case will help them last longer and prevent the underwiring coming loose as they won’t be getting so bashed about in the washing machine.
Dry clean only garments generally do not need cleaning every time you wear them. Give them a good air outside of the wardrobe for a few days before hanging back up and any marks can be cleaned up easily by sponging gently. Alternatively, sachets of dry-cleaning wipes are a great thing to have at home for items that require dry cleaning, as these are good for marks and small stains. The less chemicals you use the better the impact on your clothing and on the environment. If you can wash your clothes at 30 instead of 40 degrees, again this is better for both your clothes and the environment.
When it comes to storing your clothes; keep them away from direct sunlight in order to protect colours. Try to keep your clothes in drawers or a wardrobe away from moths, as they love to eat their way through natural fabrics. Knitted garments of any sort should be folded rather than hung up as they can stretch and go out of shape on a hanger. Any special garments that are stored for long periods, such as wedding dresses or ball gowns, should be wrapped in acid free tissue paper to prevent yellowing and patches of discolouration which can occur with moisture and also over time.
Upcycling and Repairing
An old biscuit tin with basic sewing items and an array of random buttons was commonplace in every household at one time, sadly less so now. The disposable culture we live in, not to mention sewing skills being taught less and less in schools, have put paid to the faithful tin of delights our mothers used for fixing holes and darning socks. Some supermarkets carry basic sewing items so they are easy to find and they can be purchased for a few pounds online. They also make great gifts!
If you don’t have anyone around to teach you how to sew, there are a multitude of free and paid courses around the county that you can sign up to, to learn this invaluable skill. There are also an infinite number of free courses and tutorials online, and if in doubt there is always You Tube!
There is nothing to lose, and you might love it so much you go from a simple repair to upcycling old clothes into new items altogether. Some needles and a few threads in basic colours will mean you can fix holes, repair pockets, shorten or lengthen hems and resew buttons. If you find yourself with a pile of clothes you don’t wear, but love the fabrics you can turn the old into new – an old dress can become a cushion cover, a bag, or anything else you set you mind to creating.
You can find so many amazing items in the second hand market. Whether you shop via charity and vintage shops or using platforms such as eBay and other online retailers, there is a whole world of preloved fashion out there looking for a new home. There are some real treasures to be found, it saves money for other things and it’s also a good way to clear out your own excess clothes that you no longer wear by selling or donating. Sharewear – a charity in Nottingham – takes donations of clothing and gives them directly to those in difficult circumstances in need of clothing.
Having mountains of clothes as with having mountains of anything, can lead to anxiety and overwhelm. For easy everyday decision making a capsule wardrobe is a great way to bring some calm to busy mornings and is a great starting point for working out what you need and what you don’t. There are so many ways we can be more eco with our fashion… making some of the small changes above can have a huge impact if we all start to make them.
Dr Martens Vegan 1490 boot £149
Dr Martens Vegan Blair Sandal £109
Dr Martens Vegan 11″ Satchel £119
Oasis Straw Round Bag £30