I still haven’t seen Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets documentary, but I’ve already heard loads about it. People like Jessica Rose Williams, who I’ve followed for ages, have long been advocates of a minimalist lifestyle, including a capsule wardrobe made of good quality, ethical, sustainable items that will last for years, rather than the poor quality, throwaway fashion that’s polluting the earth with chemical byproducts and our atmosphere with greenhouse gases. The good news is that brands are starting to become accountable and there are also plenty of new eco-conscious brands available. And while I’m not going to lie and tell you that every single item I buy from now on will be perfect, there are the questions I’ll be asking before my next purchase.
Do I need it?
Big one this. Why did it catch my eye? Did I see someone wearing it on Instagram (the answer is yes to this one a scarily large amount)? Does it fill a hole in my wardrobe or do I have something pretty similar already?
Do I love it?
I mean, really love it. Is it an online purchase (in which case, will I just keep it because I can’t be bothered to send it back) or can I go and touch it and try it (I’m much better if I actually shop on the high street rather than the web). If I walk away, will I just forget it, or will I keep thinking about it and have to go back for it? Do I like everything about it: the fit (is it flattering?), the cut, the colour, the material…? Is it a ten out of ten?
Does it go with other things already in my wardrobe?
GUILTY! I have to really force myself to think about this. I’ll love something but honestly know that I don’t have the right shoes to go with it, or know that I’d love it more if only it was grey or black (hello all my navy purchases). The other day I noticed that they had my absolute favourite joggers (Nike Rally regular fit) on ASOS in a pale pink! They were completely awesome but do I really need another pair of joggers? Luckily, I saw the light.
Will it last and last?
Is it great quality? Does the material feel lovely? Will it wash well? Is it classic enough to stand the test of time or is it a bit faddy, in which case will I still want to wear it this time next year?
Do I trust the brand?
This is an important one, and one of the biggest questions I’ll be asking before my next purchase. I wrote recently about Boden, and how I was impressed with their sustainability and sourcing policy. No brand is perfect, and most of these huge brands source their products from multiple companies across multiple countries, but as with Boden I’m asking myself more and more now: are they committed to sourcing their materials responsibly and sustainably? Is their supply chain transparent? Do they have any kind of ethical stance? Levi’s have pioneered some brilliant initiatives, including the Better Cotton Initiative, training farmers to use agricultural techniques that require fewer pesticides and increase yields, and Toast donate leftover fabrics to charities, work with fair trade co-operatives and continue to increase the proportion of organically produced materials in their collections.
Could I buy it second hand?
And I suppose as an addition to all these questions, I could be asking myself if I could source it, or something similar for much less from someone who doesn’t want theirs any more? Some brands sell incredibly well on Ebay. And if you’re buying great quality pieces, you’re likely to be able to sell them on and make a little money back if you fall out of love with them.
Is there such a thing as affordable organic cotton?
Cotton production causes pollution on a massive scale, so is it possible to buy cotton responsibly? Scandi brand Weekday (actually owned by the H&M group) do some brilliant, affordable organic cotton basics (find them at ASOS) and H&M have a range called Conscious featuring quite a good range of basics and some home items (I have several of their cushions). In fact, as a group (they own Arket, & Other Stories and more), 59% of the cotton used is sustainably sourced and they’re working to making that figure 100% by 2020.
The one out, one in theory
Another way we can commit to saving our planet through fashion is one that I’m really interested in. The one out, one in theory is exactly as it sounds. If you’re adding to your wardrobe, then something has to go – either donated to a charity shop, sold, recycled or gifted. It’s a brilliant way to keep a lid on the amount of possessions we own and to make sure we’re appreciating and cherishing all of them too.
It’s all food for thought, and something that I’m really interested in at the moment. What about you? Are you worried about how the clothes you buy affect our environment?
Top pic: 100% organic hand towels: Conscious at H&M.