Ready to Start Building an Ethical Wardrobe?
Maybe you just learned about the negative impact of the fashion industry and you’re ready to make a big change in the way you fill your wardrobe.
Maybe you watched The True Cost a few months ago and have felt a twinge of guilt every time you’ve shopped the mall’s clearance racks since then.
Maybe you’ve looked at the seemingly perfect feeds of sustainable fashion brands and influencers and have thought that you can’t attain or afford the perfect “conscious consumer” lifestyle being presented to you.
Wherever you’re at, we’re here to tell you that taking your first steps toward crafting a sustainable closet might be easier than you think. Here are a few practical tips from The People Label Team:
DON’T get rid of all your old clothes.
Good news! The most eco-friendly action that you can take costs you $0 and is pretty easy- keep the clothes that you already own and use them as much as possible. Take some time to “shop your own closet”, too; most of us have a stack of clothes in our closets that we’re “saving” (until we lose a little weight, until we have time to get it drycleaned or repaired) and not using on a regular basis. Focus on those pieces, and challenge yourself to make adjustments to them through restyling or tailoring until they become staples in your closet rotation.
Shop with intention
Bring items into your closet in a slower, more thoughtful way. Impulse-buys are the bread and butter of the fast fashion industry and one of the reasons that big fashion companies stay motivated to keep churning out faster and cheaper clothing. You might want to start practicing more intentional shopping by first identifying “gaps” in your wardrobe- A new pair of jeans to replace a pair that’s getting threadbare, a sturdy pair of winter shoes, a few more tee shirts to add to your rotation- and then keeping a list of those needed items on your phone or in your planner. Try to stick to your list whenever possible, rather than purchasing items that won’t last long or be worn often on a whim
Find the options that work best for your budget
Buying brand-new clothing from ethical brands isn’t the only way to shop sustainably! If you’re tight on cash (or just want to do your part to keep pre-loved clothes out of landfills), try shopping secondhand. Other creative and low-cost ways to refresh your wardrobe include renting clothes through a service like Rent The Runway (this works great for items you’ll only need to wear rarely, like a fancy dress for a wedding), or swapping items with friends
Do your research…
When purchasing new ethically made clothing, do your research to make sure that the company you choose to support has values that line up with yours. Look for information on worker wages, the company’s environmental impact, and any additional certifications or initiatives the company is engaging in. Keep in mind that not all ethical companies will be labeled in a specific way (fair trade, sustainable, eco-friendly). When in doubt, send a quick email or twitter shout out to the brand and ask for more information. Searching for ethical clothing options can be daunting, so if you’re just starting your ethical fashion journey be sure to use resources like The People Label’s listings for ethical brands in categories like menswear, womenswear, active wear and more! The companies we share in our guides are pre-vetted and you can feel confident browsing their offerings.
… But don’t expect ethical closet perfection overnight
Know that ethical fashion might not fill every wardrobe need. And that’s okay. While it might be super easy to buy ethically made cotton dresses or basic tee shirts, there are some categories of clothing that have very few or no options to speak of (yet!) that are ethically made: plus-sized clothing, running shoes, and work-appropriate maternity wear, to name just a few. If you need to purchase a specific item that you simply can’t find ethically made or second hand, make the best choice that you can, and try to choose a well-made, quality piece that will last a long time in your wardrobe.
Remember, everyone’s journey looks different and there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to begin exploring what ethical fashion looks like for YOU!
We’re all about making ethical shopping easier and more accessible for everyone here at The People Label, so get in touch if you have a specific topic you’d like us to tackle, or a question you’d like to have answered by the People Label team or community.