Do you want to have simple chic sustainable clothing? Well, the first step in building a sustainable wardrobe is to stop buying clothes that you do not need. This tiny change can make a significant difference. It is quite an effort to keep up with the seasonal and often monthly fashion trends, so get off that fast fashion consumer treadmill, and you wallet will thank you for one.
Fashion is a multi billion dollar industry, which does pose the question of what is sustainability in fashion. Sustainability in fashion is based on the 3 P’S, The Planet, People and Profit and it is important to have a balance between these three as they affect one another.
- Planet is about the environment and involves using resources that are sustainable and recyclable
- People is the social aspect and has to do with the fast pace of fashion
- Profit is the economic side and involves operational costs and inventory control
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Terms associated with What is Sustainability in Fashion:
- Slow fashion pays attention to quality and detail, without getting drawn in by consumer impulses. We will look at affordable sustainable clothing brands below that all form part of the slow fashion movement.
- Circular fashion refers to the life cycle of a product from creation through to the final stage of recycling at the end of the cycle. Instead of disposal, materials must be reused to minimize the environmental impact.
- Recycled and upcycled fashion is closely related to circular fashion. Products are broken down into its components and something new is made from it.
- The focus with eco friendly fashion is on the fibers that are being used. Natural fibers are chosen, rather than synthetic fibers, and organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and flax that are grown without chemicals and pesticides.
- Vegan fashion where no animal products are used.
- Organic and biodegradable fashion refer to natural fibers that were organically grown and is biodegradable. Wool is biodegradable but comes from animals.
- Greenwashing is the false impression that some brands are giving of their sustainable efforts. They might produce a capsule collection, but the rest of their collection is not sustainable.
- Cost per wear is how many times a garment is worn before it is disposed of. Better to spend more money on a durable item that will last longer, than cheap garments that are disposed of quickly.
- If a company is carbon neutral, it avoids carbon emissions during the entire production cycle. Gucci is one of the big names that are trying to follow that. Also, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi (recycling of materials to create luxury bags) Patagonia, Stella McCartney, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Botega Veneta.Gucci has long sought various ways to become sustainable and, last year, launched its project to become entirely carbon neutral. The concept is to reduce, or even eliminate, the CO2 emissions in the production of the garments. To do this, Gucci is reducing emissions in its plants and has also activated 4 reforestation projects in Kenya, Peru, Indonesia and Cambodia.
Basics of Simple Chic Sustainable Clothing
You might be wondering how to build a more sustainable and eco friendly wardrobe. So start by looking at what you already have and ask yourself “what was made to last” and “what is really essential”.
Mindfully choose pieces that coordinate well together and can be worn and combined in a number of different ways. Think twice about what you are buying in an effort to be more eco conscious. Buy good quality products with the intention to own them for a long time. This is better for your wallet and the environment and also the planet and forms the foundation of what is sustainability in fashion.
Tips to make your wardrobe eco friendly, while keeping it stylish:
- Buy garments you will wear again and again: before you buy a new piece of clothing, ask yourself some questions like “How often am I likely to wear it?”, “Do I really need to add this to my wardrobe?”. Make sure you will actually wear it a lot. By keeping to a minimum with a capsule wardrobe, you are likely to get more wear out of your clothes and it will break the trend of single use fashion.
- Quality over quantity: a high quality piece of clothing that you love, is far better than fast fashion garments. So look at the material and stitching for quality issues and avoid buying anything that looks as if it will fall apart after a few washes. Fast fashion will fall apart and slow fashion will last.
- Care for your clothes: if you look after your clothes, they will last longer. Wash at a lower temperature and use less water will also reduce the impact on the environment.
- Mix and match: mixing and matching is the key to an efficient wardrobe and gives versatility to your garments. So choose pieces that can coordinate and can be worn in different ways. When you find something you like, think what else in your wardrobe you can wear it with. If it is a top for instance, think about these options:
- does it go with trousers or a skirt that you already have,
- can you tuck it in,
- or be worn with a belt like a tunic,
- can it be worn as an outer layer,
- can you dress it down for lunch,
- and can you dress it up for an evening date,
- You need a minimum of three exciting prospects of styling this find, before you buy it.
- Layering and Accessorizing: accessories can make everything you have in your closet more diverse and they are a life saver for a capsule wardrobe. Take your little black dress and layer it with a bright scarf and chunky piece of jewelry, and then change the look with a simple elegant jacket and piece of jewelry for the evening. So experiment with what you already have and surprise yourself.
- Research the brands that you are interested in and want to buy from and make sure that they indeed follow sustainable practices and use ethical production processes.
- Reuse and recycle: think about the life cycle or each garment. What do you do with your clothes when you are done with them or it is worn through? Clothes should never be thrown away. Clothes that are in a good enough condition to still be worn, should be donated (or sold) and if it is no longer usable, recycle it.
Memorable fashion – if you really want a memorable bright piece, then get that from the thrift store.
Related post: 8 Best Green Jeans Denim Brands.
Building Blocks of Simple Chic Sustainable Clothing
Simple chic sustainable clothing starts with neutral pieces that form the foundation. The fundamental pieces are the most important, and these would include pieces that can be used for simple layering, like tank tops, T-shirts and leggings, to essentials like tailored trousers and season less skirts.
A capsule wardrobe gives you the flexibility to wear pieces in different ways and thereby creating different styles and outfits. The building blocks to a great, long-lasting wardrobe, are great basics and neutrals.
Classics like a good white shirt, classic black trousers, chic denim jeans, a little black dress, sneakers, heels etc. that can be utilized for several occasions. Choose colors that you love to wear and look good in and can wear all year round.
When it comes to adding or rebuilding your wardrobe, it is better for you and the environment to consider affordable sustainable clothing brands that are kinder to the people who made your clothes and the planet.
If you really love fuchsia pink, then get a scarf to team with basic black, navy or white, and don’t buy the fuchsia pink dress that you will tire of after wearing it twice. It is better to avoid excessively busy or bright prints that can only be worn in one way.
Ways to Reduce the Negative Impact of Consumerism
Mindless, impulsive buys not only hurt your wallet, it is also harmful to landfills and the environment. Also consider these options:
- Secondhand – buy from a thrift store.
- Borrowing and swapping – specially if you need something just for one evening or event.
- Rent for the evening.
A savvy shopper goes off knowing what she is looking for, so plan your shopping and do not use retail therapy as a drug.
For the long term sustainability of life on the planet, we have to change our habits and that means mindful forms of fashion.
Related post: Ethical Sustainable clothing – is that possible?
Say Goodbye to Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is all about cutting cost, which leads to careless production and endless consumption. They avoid accountability for local pollution and the environmental cost. Garments made by fast fashion companies are made and designed, and meant to be worn only seven times! I bet you didn’t know that!
You are being sold garments that are not meant to last, so that you must keep on buying more stuff that doesn’t last. A sustainable purchase to me is one that you can wear or use for many years. Move away from the fast fashion trap, which leads to mindless consumption of things we didn’t even need to start with.
Slow fashion is the alternative to shopping fast fashion, so if you don’t like what fast fashion does, then don’t buy into it. So instead of following the latest fads and trends, follow what is sustainability in fashion and wear clothes until they are worn through. So choose quality, rather than quantity.
Related post: Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion: which is Best.
Ethics has become the password for companies that are committed to the well being of workers:
- Support a policy of fair wages.
- Certified against exploitation of workers.
- ensure a healthy and safe working environment
We are far more aware of the true cost of garments and the bigger picture of where the impact is on social and environmental cost. I want to support brands that pay attention to their carbon footprint and care about the people that make the products.
A Classic Investment with Affordable Sustainable Clothing Brands
Build a sustainable wardrobe with these affordable sustainable clothing brands, and you will thank yourself for years to come. Start shopping smarter and invest in good quality, not quantity. Invest in pieces that will last for decades, but also support the environment.
- Allbirds produce sustainable footwear and apparel using only natural, sustainable fabrics and recycled materials.
- Thought is an all-natural company that produces timeless fashion using organic cotton and sustainable fabrics.
- Laara Swim, a Danish company, is one of the 100% sustainable designer bikinis brands. They use fabric made from regenerated plastic waste that is found in the North sea, Adriatic sea and Mediterranean.
- Vitamin A produce sustainably made swimwear and leisure wear clothing using recycled nylon and natural fibers.
- Nudie Jeans is an environmentally conscious Swedish fashion brand that use organic cotton to produce sustainable denim jeans.
- People Tree is one of the pioneers of affordable sustainable clothing brands and for more than twenty years has been producing ethical clothing using Fair Trade workers and farmers.
- Beaumont Organics is a British based Organic and Ethical clothing company that was started in 2008. They create contemporary conscious clothing for the modern woman.
- Soul Flower is an Organic Boho Hippy Clothing Range that is based in Minneapolis, USA. You can respect our planet while at the same time expressing your bohemian spirit.
I was lucky to have discovered more simple chic sustainable clothing in this post on How to build your green wardrobe with these 5 eco sustainable fashion companies.
Final Thoughts on What is Sustainability in Fashion
To continue to dress well, while also keeping the planet in mind, remember to follow these suggestions:
- If you are interested in a brand, inquire about their production cycle.
- Invest in high quality clothing that will last longer.
- Recycle and upcycle items that are no longer required.
- Accessories can be given a new life.
- Read labels for fiber content.
- Wear clothes until they are worn through, so choose quality, rather than quantity.
- When you do go shopping, support ethical and sustainable.
There is an app that is available on which sustainable fashion brands can score a value. This has forced many brands to look at their entire production cycle and become more ethical and sustainable, and some small brands have also emerged.
If you are looking for a sustainable fashion job, check out Jooble.
If you have any questions or suggestions about simple chic sustainable fashion, or want to add other affordable sustainable clothing brands to the list, then please leave your comments, below and I will get back to you.
More related reading: 9 Swimwear Brands that are Swimming towards Sustainability.
24 thoughts on “What is Sustainability in Fashion?”
This is a great article and it is exactly what I needed to hear at this stage of my life. I recently watch a documentary called minimalism, which is defined as “intentionally living with only the things I really need”.
I fully agree with the fact you raised in this article that it is important to shop smart and prioritize quality over quantity.
Thank you for sharing with us.
I have not heard about the documentary about minimalism, so will search for it. You might want to watch “The true cost” which is about fast fashion and the cost to people and the environment and really will make you question what is sustainability in fashion.
I think the first step with being sustainable is like you said we have to stop buying something that we don’t need. When I was younger, It was so hard for me because I love fashion. Now I am just sticking to the basics, Tanks, shirts, jeans, dress pants etc. When I come to think of it I only wore those essentials. Now I have more budget to invest something that is better for our planet. Thanks for the tips, those are the looks that I strive for already 😉
Great to hear that you are aware of what is sustainability in fashion and striving to invest in quality, rather than quantity, which is better for the planet.
Such a great site! Being in the energy business, this site shows the importance of not only energy efficiencies, but other related ways of making our great planet economically, socially and sustainable. The fashion piece of that, never saw it coming so great job there! What a good read!
I did click on the Organic Jeans links and found it wasn’t opening where I was directed, just thought you should know. I also enjoyed the links you had to Pinterest and other sites. And who knew there would be so much information on sewing machines. It just seems like such a historical device and yet used so much even today residentially. Thanks so much!
I have checked all the links in the post and they are all working, so I am not sure which Organic Jeans link you are referring to. If this was in a different post, I would appreciate if you could let me know which one so that I can check it. Thank you.
Wow! That was really fun to read! After looking over this article, I feel like I just discovered how to go on a style diet, and better invest in my finances AND the health of the planet. This is clearly something that you’re very passionate about and it reflects so well through your words and explanations here. Also as a graphic designer I’m a fan of the feel of this article as well. I was just wondering what made you want to start writing and learning about sustainability in fashion? No need to actually answer if you don’t want to, but I did want to share how much I enjoyed this, keep it up!
I love your use of “style diet”. I am a crafter and studied textiles and design as part of my degree, so have always supported the use of natural fibers and materials. Learning about what is sustainability in clothing is just a natural progression of my interest and support of an organic lifestyle.
what a great article about sustainable fashion. I found that everything you said made so much sense. We certainly are a society of throw-away items. I personally tend to wear my clothes till they fall apart, even if they are considered fast fashion. I hate to shop for clothing.
I did notice that the companies that you chose to highlight in this article are great but lack true plus size clothing. I do not mind paying for quality, to a certain extent, but I want it to fit. Unfortunately my size falls just beyond what they offer. Although, I love the idea of buying less, and having versatility in my fashion.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge of this and I will cetainly be more mindful when replacing parts of my wardrobe.
Thank you for your kind comments. I will put together a list of affordable sustainable clothing brands that have a range of plus size clothing, so thank you for that suggestion.
Hey Linne, i just want to say great article, i never knew that fashion can be so complex, i guess its true that you learn something everyday, Im not particulary fashion savy but ill be definitely sharing this article with my female friends that are. I’m sure they will appreciate your writing too! Great Job
What is sustainability in fashion is something that more consumers should be aware of. We can only save our planet by changing our consumerism mindset and support affordable sustainable clothing brands that are working on improving working condition for workers and use sustainable materials and practices.
How to buy clothes that i don’t need may the biggest problem that i have. I have a feeling like i could put on any cloth and would literally need every last of them. The problem is, most don’t look nice on me as people say. Its really so exhausting to keep up with the modern changing trends indeed. I must agree with you with buying garments that you can wear over and over.
Changing the buying habits of those that follow fast fashion, is a big problem with what is sustainability in fashion. So why buy clothing that doesn’t look nice on you? You are hurting your wallet and our planet.
I like this topic very much. It is possible to love fashion and the planet at the same time. You can look chic and not to spend a lot of money. I hope that in the future there will be more talk about this topic, that more will be done on this issue and that more fashion brands will support this idea.
With these affordable sustainable clothing brands it is easy to have simple chic sustainably clothing that is better for our planet and also your wallet.
It is very important that fashionistas read-through this article, it is gonna help people know what fashion is really about and how you can put it together to make Sense. You’ve done a great job by putting this together, it’ll be very resourceful and very understandable. Thanks for sharing this amazing post on what is sustainability in fashion
Thank you for your kind comments and I hope fashionistas will realize that simple chic sustainable clothing is possible with these affordable sustainable clothing brands.
This is all a whole new world for me. I was not aware of all the terms used for sustainability in fashion. It’s all very interesting stuff in general! I wasn’t aware that there was so much that wen into it, also, I’m still a bit confused with the way that you use “chic” in? What exactly do you mean with “chic” as someone who still so new to all this, learning the lingo is something I need to do haha
Chic is often used in fashion terms and it refers to a style that is elegant and smart and even sophisticated. So hope that helps you when looking for stylish chic sustainable clothing.
I have always wanted to build blocks of simple chic sustainable clothing. It’s not as easy as it seems but you have given me some important guidelines. I commend Gucci’s work and am a huge fan of their brand. I think there is a lot that we as a society should learn about sustainability but am glad that some brands have already taken the first step.
I agree with you that we as consumers can do more about what is sustainability in fashion. It is indeed encouraging to find that there are more brands that are moving towards sustainable and ethical practices and that there are affordable sustainable clothing brands that are making a difference.
This has been a very interesting read. Never had I imagined that fashion could have this many attributes to it as described under sustainability in fashion subtitle. I do value quality over quantity and you have made me see how much more this is needful when buying clothes. As for retail therapy I have to improve on that too because I’m guilty of it and now that I think of it I never apply sustainability in fashion when I go that route, so thanks for the information 🙂
I think most women are guilty of retail therapy on occasion, but once you are aware of it, it is easier to control. I have made impulse purchases over the years that I have regretted. As I am getting older I am more aware of what is sustainability in fashion and invariably look out for affordable sustainable clothing brands.