The season’s hottest accessory is the feel-good factor of knowing that what you’re wearing has a sustainable and eco-friendly pedigree. Lauren Cochrane explores the everyday shopping choices that can make a difference to our planet
The buzzword in fashion this season? Forget ‘neon’ or ‘padded jackets’. Instead, think ‘sustainability’. The fashion industry that produces 53 million tonnes of clothing a year – 87% of which ends up in landfill – is developing a conscience, with global brands making changes that will reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.
A survey from 2018 demonstrated that the average piece of clothing was worn only seven times before being thrown away; it’s a calculation that should stop even the most devoted fashionista in their tracks. And because consumers are also complicit in this environmental disaster in-the-making, we can also change our ways by adopting a more mindful attitude to the purchases we make – and avoiding impulse buys. Here are five other ways to get on board without sacrificing on style.
Make small changes first
Hands up who still gets a paper cup on a coffee run, a plastic bottle of water or a plastic bag at the supermarket? If one of these bad habits belong to you, there are plenty of effortless, stylish and sustainable swaps you can make. Invest in a Keep-Cup for your flat white, a S’well bottle for your hydration, and keep a chic canvas shopper bag always on hand. Fashionability 1, guilt 0.
Discover the thrill of vintage shopping
Online vintage sites including Vestiaire Collective, the Real Real and Edit Second Hand are bookmarked by fashion insiders thanks to discounts of up to 70 per cent off designer goods. Some of the pieces featured here look brand new and can claim an élite fashion insider provenance (consider it an extremely haute clothes swap). And of course you can sell as well as buy; ‘resale’ is a big trend in streetwear and represents the circular economy in action.
Recycle, recycle, recycle
If you want a hassle-free way of clearing out your wardrobe, there are now plenty of options beyond the charity shop. In fact, a clothing recycling bin has become a common fixture in many of our favourite stores. You can drop your unwanted items into a bin at H & M, Zara and Uniqlo, knowing that your donations will be taken up by the brand’s re-use or recycle scheme. John Lewis even offers a ‘buy-back’ program that will see swap the clothes you no longer wear for a gift card to spend at the shop.
Buy into sustainable innovations
The growing interest in sustainability has driven the most recent innovations in fabrics. Net-a-Porter has invested into vegan (and washable) leather, while Selfridges creates their signature carrier bags out of reused coffee cups. Fur, meanwhile, is moving to fashion Siberia. Kering – the conglomerate that owns Gucci and Alexander McQueen – has banned it, as have Versace and Burberry. Open your mind to new materials – it’s the future.
Find green inspiration on Instagram
Following sustainable fashion activists on their social platforms will both encourage you and supply you with practical tips on adopting greener habits. Cameron Russell campaigns about climate change (along with health and wellbeing in the modelling industry), while the hashtag #whomademyclothes brings together ethical and sustainable looks from all over the globe. Meanwhile, the insights Instagram offers on Livia Firth’s life – from the perfect vegetable patch to eco-fashion – is all the motivation you need to do sustainability with style.
Brush up on your boutique brands
Where bigger brands often struggle to quickly implement big changes towards sustainable practices, smaller brands can be more agile about adopting new innovations and techniques. A few cases in point: Hiraeth, Rooney Mara’s vegan brand which launched this year, contemporary fashion line Ninetypercent which donates 90% of their profits to mostly sustainable charities, and Jeanerica, a denim brand that uses 98% sustainable cotton. And finding the under-the-radar sustainable brand or a new eco-launch just got easier with Antibad. Launched by an ex-buyer for Tom Ford, it’s an excellently curated e-marketplace that brings the coolest sustainable brands together in one space.
Image courtesy of Getty Images
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