Say no to fast fashion.
Why is it so important to consider the manufacture of your clothes?
Andrew Morgan shows very powerful with his documentary True Cost that a cheap shirt for you means a ‘worthless’ life for the person making it. Before he started filming, he asked himself how we could have let it come so far. Why did we watch for so long? Or why did we not even question where our clothes came from and how it affects the life of the person making them? He said in an interview, he did not have to build up the story because it is just so outrageous. The person sewing your fast fashion t-shirt ‘lives’ probably in complete poverty in disastrous environmental conditions.
The money you supposedly saved stands in no relation to the consequences your purchase decision has on the other side of the world. That’s why it is inevitable for me to do my part as a consumer to assure sustainable manufacturing for the sewer and the environment.
Tip: If you are interested in the documentary’s background and making of, I recommend the interview I mentioned with Andrew Morgan on the Intention Podcast.
What is a ‘conscious closet’?
For me, a ‘conscious closet’ or an ‘intentional wardrobe’ means,
- to use what is already available – in your closet or from someone else (second hand),
- to pay attention to socially and ecologically fair production, especially when you buy new clothes,
- to know where my clothes were manufactured,
- to avoid wasting any resources,
- to prefer natural materials, which can decompose (unlike synthetic fibers) and
- to own clothes that fit nicely and bring me joy even if I wear them every day.
Quality over quantity.
I’m no fashionista (understatement of the year ^^) and I never know the latest trend. Although I am very indifferent, I like to wear clothes that give me joy, fit nicely and do not create a scandal.
When I moved the last time, I sorted out a lot of my clothes because I wasn’t willing to put anything in my new closet that wasn’t nice to look at. Organic minimalism, so to speak. At the moment I wear a perfect, but nevertheless unintentional, capsule wardrobe. Since I can only choose from 3 pants, 4 shirts and 3 blouses, I realized quickly how much time I save in the morning. Thus, I do not want to increase my closet by innumerable pieces. Unfortunately, the few pieces I own at the moment have seen better days and are not really suited for the warmer seasons.
My goal for a conscious closet is to choose high-quality garments, while keeping the number of pieces low. As a starting point, I’ll consult the guide ‘15 ways to be more mindful about your wardrobe’ from Simply Liv and Co. In short: less is more, buy timeless and choose clothes in colors that reflect your lifestyle. I guess, this is easier said than done 😛
That has not only practical reasons, but environmental ones as well. High quality clothes can be worn longer and afterwards repurposed sustainably. If they are made of natural fibres such as linen or cotton, they can decompose. It will save financial resources for me and non-renewable resources for the environment. And don’t forget: if I spend more money on my clothes to begin with, the person sewing it will get more money to live as well.
To save resources with second hand clothes.
Before you buy something newly produced, I would recommend to look for second hand clothes. Even if you buy well-known fast fashion brands on the second hand market, it helps. This way you can avoid that exploitative brands will produce new clothes very cheap and under unfair conditions. A step further is to look for fair fashion brands. I know from experience that it is hard to find these in thrift stores or online swapping platforms.
Take care of your clothes. #repair
It is especially sensible to wear the carefully chosen clothes as long as possible. If some of your pieces get rigged or break you can have a look at last week’s blog post on mending and repairing.
You have to keep in mind the material when you wash and dry the clothes to keep the clothes as long as possible. This means e.g. to turn your clothes inside out before you put them in the washing machine (because the side touching the skin will always be the dirtiest one), to avoid high temperatures for wool (or you will have perfect doll garments) and to avoid using a dryer at all (it’s bad for the environment, bad for your fabric fibers and your wallet).
Donate and give away sustainably.
Conscious consumption will not keep you from mispurchases. Your personal style will change over time (or you never find one, #guilty). Sometimes you just buy a piece, you realise you don’t really fancy. Or you need a different type of clothes due to changing circumstances. When this happens, you might want to get rid of the unwanted pieces.
This leaves you with different options to handle your clothes:
- sell (e.g. online or on flea markets)
- swap (swap party!)
- give away (if someone gladly accepts it) or
Unfortunately, the clothes you put in the collection boxes are rarely sold in thrift shops. Most of them will be shipped off to foreign countries, in particular to Africa and South America. This will prevent the existence of local markets. A better way is to bring your clothes directly to social institutions, in times when they are actually looking for them.
Conscious consumption: shop sustainably.
A neat little trick to avoid impulse purchases is to keep a list with things you want to buy. Two years ago, I put on my list: black cardigan. I will not forget that I want a black cardigan, but it might not have been as necessary as I thought two years ago. Otherwise, I might have bought it already, right? A list is such an easy and wonderfully effective tool to save resources.
Another tip: avoid to ‘stop by’ at a sale. The inhibition threshold for spending money is just so much lower if the clothes are already ‘so cheap’…
If you have decided to buy something newly produced and you are looking for fair fashion items, I highly recommend this incredibly extensive fair fashion guide. Justine sorted the shear endless list into basics, sportswear, bags, etc. (it’s in German, but you can just check out the brands).
At the end, a suggestion for further reading on the topic of ‘slow fashion’: how slow fashion is saving our environment by Bobbi on her blog ‘living life green’.
After reading all this, will you create a conscious closet and more importantly: how?