This year my New Year's resolution was to buy only ethical clothing and jewellery indefinitely. I set myself this challenge in attempt reduce how much I consume and help positively support those in the industry that is trying to change the fashion industry - one of the most unethical and unsustainable in the world.
Fortunately, my wardrobe has just been robbed. A sign from the ethical fashion universe or just plain bad luck? Who knows, but either way I’m a wardrobe-less fashion lover who’s back to square one and want to use this unpleasant experience for something good.
So, after my London flat was broken into and just about all my clothing and jewellery was stolen (bar the clothes on my back and the things I had with me on a trip) an ethical wardrobe overhaul suddenly became not only an instant spring clean, but a symbolic start of something new.
This is my chance to create a wardrobe that will be truly good from top to bottom (pun intended). The only question then became: how?
Boycotting the Fashion Industry? I Have a Bone to Pick...
For some boycotting fashion all together is a solution. It is a way of taking a stance against fast fashion. Maybe I should boycott the fashion industry and challenge myself to live on the bare essentials I still have, like I’ve seen a few others doing lately. But, the social and economic development professional in me quickly dismissed this idea.
What would happen if everyone in the world stopped buying clothes right now and didn’t do it for, say, a whole year in protest? Firstly, the fashion industry would suffer. Then, the mainstream fashion brands would begin to lose money, and perhaps then they would get the message and start changing their practices to attract their suspended spending dollars. That would be great. However, let’s be real. Only a small minority would ever take the extreme commitment of boycotting buying their new favourite dress all together, and this would not be enough to make a significant impact on the biggest culprits.
Haven’t we learned that positive action has a more productive and effective influence of industries than going off something cold-turkey does? When we disagree with the food production industry, we don’t stop eating - we buy organic. The same should apply for the fashion industry.
Boycotting is a good place to start, however to create sustainable change we need to go further. Real change is created by actively supporting those who are standing for something better.
While moving towards a more minimalist way of living is absolutely essential, striking a balance between consuming less and supporting what will create larger change is the most important challenge we face in high mass consumption societies.
Loving the new wardrobe
What does the start of this commitment look like? For me, I looked at what was remaining in my wardrobe and picked out a few basics I wanted to replace quickly. Bringing together the basic principles captured in “Your how to guide for shopping in support of the global goals” I started with these:
Lose the fast fashion habit
Choose sustainable materials
Support sustainable livelihoods
Avoid products using child and bonded labour
Have a think about your eco footprint
Buy recycled or go to clothes shops
My first purchase ticked almost all of these categories. With an important dinner party the following night, and no appropriate dresses to wear, I started looking around for a new timeless, beautiful cocktail dress.
One of my go-tos for wellmade, affordable eco-dresses is www.thereformation.org. Their products are stylish, sexy and this one is made of a viscose yarn certified by OEKO-TEX 100. This means it’s free of harmful metals, EZO dyes and formaldehydes which trash the environment. Kicking in a few other categories of ethics into my purchase I opt for a hand-down version of the dress I’ve found, their gorgeous Lydia dress on ebay. I score this dress in the perfect dress, size, price (only £42) and my favourite colour. Not only that, it’s made in LA and free of child labour, made of eco fabric, is a classic I will keep and wear time and time again, and is recycled through ebay. Win, win, win.
Finding out that your house has been robbed is never a good thing. It’s an intrusive crime that leads to loss of many things. Some of these items are not so important, and some deeply saddening. I will never replace the heirloom jewellery from my grandmother that has been stolen, and I feel a little less safe in my home than I did a month ago. These things can’t be changed, but one thing that can be changed is feeling great about the choices I make in replacing them.
So, when your wardrobe gets robbed, this could be the perfect chance to make it more ethical. However, the great news is that you don't have to go through unwanted loss to get the upside of this deal.
Now is a great time to join me (in a less traumatic way!) and spring clean your wardrobe.
If you’re not convinced just yet, I get it. It's sometimes tricky to know where to even start when it comes to ethical fashion shopping. Some more good news is I am here to help. Keep an eye on my blog and each week from here on in I’ll be blogging about an item of clothing I’m buying to restock my wardrobe that are affordable, quality and ethical. I’ll continue to show you just how possible, and how good it really is.