Deciding on your set of values as a consumer is key to starting and continuing your conscious fashion journey...because we all need to remember that, just like everything about us, our journey to a more conscious wardrobe and lifestyle is unique! What are your consumer values? Have you thought about them before? If not can you easily list down what they might be? Give it a go!
Figuring out what works with your life and making that first step to implement small changes into your shopping habits is where it all starts. The world of ethical and sustainable fashion is overwhelming, but what I've realized is that it's not about being perfect and we can't all do everything! After some of these overwhelming thoughts whirling around in my mind that have had me questioning what is right and wrong on my journey, I wanted to share the key areas of focus that might help guide your journey.
It's up to you to decide what works for you, your lifestyle and your values, and then make a start:
Let's face it, we all inherently know the fast fashion model is bad...it works only based on the notion that clothing is disposable. It isn't! But this doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up fast fashion all together. Of course taking a stand against fast fashion and deciding to never shop at certain brands is a position many hold. Others may decide to continue to shop at fast fashion brands but only when they come across an item they love and know they will get more than thirty wears out of.
Recycling and Upcycling
Making use of clothing that has already been produced is an important part of closing the loop when it comes to the consumption of fashion. Some choose to focus on only consuming second hand garments and become expert thrifters. This also extends to upcycling where, if you're creative, you may explore the avenue of making new items of clothing using recycled items of clothing. On the flip side, some people think the consumption of second hand clothing isn't completely guilt free, and view the consumption of more stuff as essentially contributing to the production of more stuff by creating demand.
Environmental and Empowerment Causes
Giving back is a powerful option in the fashion world which has been gaining momentum of late with a number of brands now based on the give back model. Buy this item and we give one to someone in need or buy this item and we'll plant a tree...it can work in many ways but essentially you're buying into a greater cause when you spend your dollars. Making purchases that have a direct link to promoting human rights and protecting our planet is one way to create positive change with your purchases.
Fair Trade and Locally Made
Supporting small makers and local businesses can ensure the wellbeing of producers at all levels of the supply chain are at a standard you would expect. Spending more and buying less can mean you support a brand that otherwise wouldn't exist without your purchase, unlike when your dollars go to large corporations. Buying fair trade and locally made product also has a positive impact on environmental factors and empowers suppliers and small business owners.
Choosing to be vegan is a lifestyle choice which puts animals and the planet at the core of your values. While giving up the consumption of anything made using animal products isn't something we're all going to do, just like every other value mentioned above, it is another way of making a difference, to your life and the life of those around you.
"...just doing a little something is a lot better than doing a lot of nothing." - Stella McCartney
My journey so far has been focussed mostly on reducing my clothing consumption as a whole and making much more considered purchases that work with my wardrobe and are the best quality I can afford. This has meant these purchases are not always from ethical and sustainable brands because of either price or styling. I believe in buying something I truly love and fits my style personality instead of buying something just because it's from an ethical and/or sustainable brand. That being said I'm putting a lot more time into researching brands and trying to find the right items for me that are made sustainably and ethically, and I'm looking to second hand and thrift stores a lot more. Of course there are always improvements that can be made but that's why this is a journey...learn and discover as you go and make it work for you! Start your journey by adopting a philosophy of meaningful consumption and putting more thought into the purchases you make.