I am constantly asked the same question on social media…
I want to get into ethical and sustainable fashion, but where do I start? How can I do better?
Sometimes it’s hard for me to answer because these questions come from all over the world, so instead I wanted to put together a global guide on how to really change your habits and become part of the slow fashion movement.
1 Ditch Fast Fashion
This may feel like an obvious one, but I honestly believe one of the biggest changes you can make as a consumer is to stop supporting fast fashion companies and instead seek out ones who are doing things right. When I say doing things right, I’m talking about brands who are being transparent about their production processes, supporting their communities through the work they do, being considerate of the types of fabric they choose to use as well as their overall impact on people + planet.
2 Second Hand First
This is your chance to become a real life treasure hunter. Due to the insane amount of excess clothing already filling up our beautiful little planet, it’s not difficult to seek out incredible second hand clothing. Although buying second hand isn’t the answer to all our problems, it’s still often better than buying new. Go to markets, turn up the Macklemore and hit up your local thrift store, join facebook Buy/Sell/Swap groups, download clothing apps like Carousell (to buy) or Lana (to swap), host or attend a clothing swap. Buying second hand also makes for a better story when a friend asks “Oh wow, where did you get that?”
If all you have to say is “Zara” it’s a bit of a conversation killer.
3 Ask the tough questions
I ask myself three key questions when considering whether or not to make a purchase. Firstly – where was the item made? If the answer is vague or hard to find, it can be assumed that there is a reason for it (hiding dodgy or unethical manufacturing). More fashion brands are starting to be transparent and accountable for the production of their clothing, which is fantastic. These are the ones you want to support so keep an eye out for them (and consult my golden list below!)
Secondly, I ask myself do I really “need” it? I consider what I already own, and whether or not the piece of clothing will become a staple I can wear for years, or be out of fashion by the end of the season. Do you think you’ll wear it at least 30 times? If not, time to reconsider.
Thirdly, is it good quality? I’m willing to fork out extra dollars these days if I know the piece I’m buying is going to go the distance. Clothing should never be considered disposable (however do note: biodegradable fashion is currently in the works) as there are epic amounts currently being thrown into landfill. Seek out natural fibres and fabrics, especially pieces that have been crafted to last.
My Golden List
I’m always asked for brand recommendations, below is a list of my absolute favourite labels who are doing amazing work in the sustainable and ethical fashion space. Click ’em to visit their sites!
- Outland Denim
- Lois Hazel
- Matter Prints (Pants featured right)
- Sukkha Citta
- Vege Threads
- Sticks + Stone the Label
- Bamboo Body
- Fridays Project
Underwear + Lingerie
Jewellery + Accessories
- Ethical Clothing Australia is an unbeatable resource for brand suggestions plus articles about what’s going on in the Aussie fashion industry.
- The Good One You app is your perfect pocket companion for when you’re unsure about a brand and their ethics. They rate brands on things like labour, animal rights and environmental impact.
- Peppermint Magazine is one of my absolute favourite mags, filled to the brim with interesting articles and inspiration.
- The True Cost literally changed my life and is the very reason I started The Un-Material Girl in the first place. A must see
- Minimalism: A documentary about the important things. One of my favourites, the title speaks for itself
- River Blue is a ground breaking documentary about the fashion industries impact on the worlds rivers and how consumers can inspire change
- No Impact Man is kind of controversial, but watch it with an open mind and take from it what you can
- Never Ever Pay Retail is Brisbanes Op Shopping Queen, check out her guides!
- Op Shop to Runway is one of the most stylish thrifters I’ve ever come across
- Wardrobe Crisis presented by Claire Press, Australian VOGUE’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large
- Conscious Chatter is hosted by Kestral Jenkins, the ultimate asker of tough and gritty questions
We must not forget that much of the power lies within our hands and wallets. There are countless smalls things you can do, that in the long run will make a big difference in slowing down the impact of fast fashion. I truly hope this post has inspired and informed you, I’m going to keep updating it as I discover more so stay tuned!