Making adjustments to our deeply ingrained shopping habits is undoubtedly one of the trickier aspects of living a sustainable lifestyle. You’ve switched to a vegetarian diet? Check. Cut back on plastic? Check. Resisted that weekend trip to Berlin? Check. But when it comes to your individual sense of style, it’s the variety of 52 fashion seasons a year – and all the fun and convenience that comes with it – that is particularly hard to resist. Not only this, ethically made clothes do tend to be more expensive than the high street, providing a ready-made excuse to head straight to Zara.
As someone who doesn’t always have the time or money to spend on clothes that align with my ethics, I try to fall back on the following tools and tips as much as possible, to help me make conscious choices and save money in the process.
Good On You App
Good On You – the app of choice for Emma Watson as her benchmark for choosing ethical brands – is an indispensable tool to have downloaded on your phone when you’re on the hunt for clothes. This online directory lists thousands of clothing and footwear brands showing you how each brand is rated for its labour, environmental and animal standards. Simply type in the shop you’re looking to buy from and you’ll see how it does against each criteria, as well as an overall rating. It’s exactly the kind of transparent and holistic approach you need to navigate the high street, and is also a great place to discover new ethical brands. Download the App for free here.
Make It Last
It’s estimated that £140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfill each year, so chances are someone in your family is planning to throw away a bag full at some point. Some of my favourite clothes are the shirts I’ve rescued from the back of my grandparents’ wardrobes; the dresses my sister’s tired of and the special pieces my mum has saved, but never has the occasion to wear anymore. So next time you’re back home, it might just be worth having a rummage to find some old treasures. Don’t forget about your own clothes either. The next time you see a sewing kit in a newsagents, snap it up. It’s one of those things you never have when you need it, but having one to hand will enable you to give a treasured piece of clothing a new lease of life.
Airbnb For Clothes
If you do need to have that endorphin kick of the new, then you can still do this without contributing to over consumption with renting platforms such as Hurr. From highstreet to high-end, Hurr offers a range of beautiful clothes to rent at a fraction of the RRP. Think Airbnb for clothes, where you might come across your dream Alexander McQueen dress for just £150. This innovative way of enjoying fashion comes just at the right time, when one in seven women claim they wouldn’t be caught in the same dress they’ve already been photographed in.
Treat prospective clothes like potential lovers
When buying new clothes, no matter how “fast” or “slow” they are, only buy clothes that make your heart sing! If not, just resist. For me, it’s a matter of not stepping over the threshold of the shop in the first place, as I know that I’d be in danger of an impulsive buy. This year I’ve even noticed a trend for people pledging to not buy any clothes at all for an entire year. If you’re thinking about doing this, make sure you have a good capsule wardrobe (a well-edited collection of clothing that can be easily interchanged throughout the seasons) lined up, to give yourself the best chance of success.