The phrase ‘sustainable fashion’ is broad and can be represented or interpreted in myriad ways. With all the certifications, acronyms, ‘new’ materials, greenwashing and eco-everything… It’s hard to know where to start and what to look for. We believe that for a garment to be truly sustainable it must be good not just for our planet, but also for the people that make our clothes.
At Fair Wear, we first and foremost support our member brands. Our members commit to implementing our Code of Labour Practices at their factories. By supporting them, you can be sure that you’re supporting a brand that is working towards a more ethical supply chain. But, you can ‘wear fair’ in other ways too. So, we have created a list of tips to help you navigate the world of ‘sustainable fashion’ and adopt more conscious clothing habits.
1. Shop people-friendly fashion Want to shop sustainable brands but not sure where to find them? A good place to start are the Fair Wear member brands. When you support these brands, you know they are working hard to improve the lives and working conditions of the people that make your clothes. Fair Wear brands cover a wide range of garments, from luxury womenswear to classic, affordable staples, and almost everything in between.
2. Shop in your own wardrobe The average consumer in the Netherlands owns 173 items of clothing, 50 of which haven’t been worn in at least a year. Sometimes we think we have ‘nothing to wear’ when really we might just need to look at what we already have, but in a fresh light. Try pairing clothes in a new way or making a point to only wear your lesser-worn items for a while.
3. Phone a friend Don’t limit yourself to shopping in your own wardrobe when you can shop in your friends’ too! Borrow clothes from each other when you want to try something new. Or, clothes swaps are a great way to add new things to your closet while finding your old items a new home, too. Try organising one with a few friends, and if you enjoy it, maybe over time it could turn into larger event!
4. Shop secondhand So many clothes end up in vintage or thrift stores in search for a second (or third or fourth) lease on life. And many are in as good a condition as if they were brand new, but without the hefty price tag. Yes, it might take some time to rummage through racks of clothes to find something you like, but the reward will be worth it! And if you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can check out peer-to-peer marketplaces like Depop and Vinted, where you can buy, sell and swap clothes without having to leave the house.
5. The ’30 wears’ test Initially a campaign started by Livia Firth, the ’30 wears’ test has become a sustainable fashion mantra. When you’re about to buy something new, ask yourself if you’ll wear it 30 times or more. The idea is to change the way we approach shopping and owning clothes. ‘It’s about thinking of your clothes as an investment rather than something disposable,’ Livia says, ‘the 30 wears campaign is about ending the culture of buying a cheap outfit and only wearing it once. We should be wearing our clothes time and time again.’ Interested in seeing how often you really wear your clothes? You can track how many times you’ve worn individual items with the 30 Wears app.
6. Check the label Sometimes we want to buy from a brand but aren’t sure how sustainable it is. Similarly, sometimes a brand will use sustainability as a marketing technique, without being able to substantiate those claims. This is known broadly as ‘greenwashing’. If you’re unsure about a brand’s sustainability credentials, check the labels or its website to see if it has been certified by environmental bodies, or if it’s affiliated with an independent organisation like Fair Wear Foundation or Ethical Trading Initiative. If you can’t find any information, reach out to them and ask! It’s important for more brands to be transparent about how their products are produced.
7. Repair and re-use Fancy learning a new skill? Learn to sew so that you can repair or upcycle old items, or even create new ones from scratch. With a bit of care and creativity, our clothes can last us a long time. So next time you find a hole in your favourite jeans, you definitely don’t have to throw them out!
Ready to take action for a fairer garment industry?