Clothing’s kinda important, isn’t it? Stops us from being naked, keeps us warm, as well as sending out some pretty big signals around the way we like to express ourselves. It’s also a £1 trillion ($1.3) industry, with a deep complexities, opening up dialogue around fair pay, child labour, sweatshops, dyes, the environment and more.
Over the last few years, I’ve shifted to bring more of this into focus, and I’ll be honest, I hadn’t before in the same way because on such a multi-layer topic, it’s hard to avoid the rush of guilt that can inevitably accompany the realisation of impact and our blissful ignorance has on people, communities and structural oppression. But we don’t learn in avoidance.
See, it’s deep. But it’s also important. As consumers, we play the vital role of investing money and creating direction and narrative around clothing, through what we care about and where we place our monies.
For now, I’m going to take us softly into this world, because quite frankly, it’s scary when we lift the veil and are faced with the truth behind some of our favourite garms. So, just know, my aim is to bring in greater understanding, not shame or guilt-tripping, but with the intention that if you care, there are things you may like to know about what your money really funds, other than looking fresh.
It’s important to remember, no one’s perfect and there’s no expectation to be. Personally, when it comes to my clothing, I like running a 90:10 ratio, keeping myself accountable for 90% with room not to drive myself round the bend over every detail. Making an effort counts, remember that.
In the meantime, you may like to consider your own shopping habits and consider some of the following ways to freshen up your mentality when it comes to your wardrobe:
1. Throw Back
Charity shops, vintage hideaways, ebay, etsy, depop, you know the drill. When it comes to buying preloved items, you can bag some serious bang for your buck as well as develop truly individual style. Easily one of my favourite past times, with plenty of wins under my belt.
2. Sample Sale
Questionable entry to some, because it’s still buying the product BUT easily one of the best ways to still shop high street – if you feel the pull, or – without giving full whack to the company. Perhaps not our most sustainable option but it keeps more money in your back pocket and avoids the high street hype of sales. Here I tend to buy brands I wouldn’t usually invest in at full whack. Scores include a life time staple coat for £400 less than the retail. Another eye opener to the pure profit of high street.
There are some epic designers out there making clothing from home, or reworking pieces into works of art or gifting a new lease of life. Shopping with them directly or commissioning pieces supports their business as well as investing in pieces that are longer wearing, you can also ask the questions that matter to you with greater clarity on answers.
4. Think Fair
The conscious clothing market is BOOMING, with an incredible space expanding for customers who want more accountability from their brands. A quick google or read through the Conscious Consumer site will give you some great alternative brands to buy from, alongside sharing more on the ethics of many favourite brands. Some surprising names to avoid include Chanel, Loewe and Louis Vuitton. Remember, the price you pay has no correlation to the ethics of the business, just their profit margin.
GO WILD. Whether you embroider a shirt or download a pattern online (loads free online, or here) making your own clothes is a great experience. Having made several dresses from scratch, I’ll say this is not my default option, but it’s fun to get creative as well as learn not all ideas are as simple as others.
5. Buy Well
Give yourself a set of rules when buying, one of my favourite is “Would I wear this in 20 years?”, essentially, will it last well in quality or style. Plenty of clothing is utterly timeless, while other come in and out through cycles and hold their own whatever your style. The idea here is to avoid thin, cheap fabrics and poor wear over time.
6. Take a Break
Ohhh rouge entry – when it comes to buying: don’t. Use what you have, revamp what you have or arrange a clothes swap with friends. Or perhaps, consider having breaks through the year to encourage more creativity with what you already have.
Let me know your thoughts and enjoy creating your own expression as a greater extension of who you are through clothing, including your heart and intentions for the world.