Key Takeaways:

  • Fast fashion has many negative effects on people and the planet, from unjust worker rights to millions of pounds of clothing waste
  • Fashion is a big area to incorporate sustainability, as we wear clothes every day, and the brands we buy from provide good insight into what we support
  • These sustainable fashion tips can help save you money, choose your outfits easier, make figuring out your personal style a breeze

Whether your preferred style is preppy, chic, boho, or you just throw on whatever looks the comfiest, fashion is an important part of our daily lives. That being said, it is easy to fall into consumer habits that have negative effects on people and the planet without realizing it. Have you ever taken the time to find out where the materials to make your clothes came from? What about what happens to your clothes once you get rid of them? Finally, consider one of the most important factors when it comes to fashion consumerism; Do you support fast fashion? Fast fashion describes the business model that rapidly mass-produces clothing at extremely low costs to meet the high demand of current fashion trends. While this may work for profits, this business model directly contributes to unjust labor laws, substantial carbon emissions, and millions of pounds of clothing waste contributing to landfills every year.

So, how can we help improve the fashion industry for people and the planet? The answer is simple; Become a conscious consumer by supporting sustainable fashion alternatives. Interested in learning how to make this switch? Here are 6 tips to support sustainable fashion:


1. Get to Know Your Specific Style

Do you know what your style is? It’s easy to look at the latest trends for the season and jump on the bandwagon, but realistically, how long will this new trend be in style? Will you really wear this piece of clothing enough to justify the buy (and the environmental impact)? Most of the time, the answer is no. 

Fast fashion companies make huge profits from capitalizing on microtrends and exploiting consumers’ fears that they need new designs to stay in trend. But the effects of this business strategy are harmful to people, the planet, and our wallets. Over time, giving into micro-trends leads to a wardrobe full of low-quality garments that quickly go out of style and are damaged easily from simple everyday wear, so you’ll likely end up throwing them away soon after purchasing. On top of all this, your own personal style is at risk! Why follow the latest trend and look like everyone else when you can discover your own style and use it to express your individuality? Fashion is an outlet to show the world who we are, and fast fashion tends to put a damper on that self-expression. Don’t let yourself give in to fast fashion and instead find out what clothes make you, you.


2. Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Have you heard of a capsule wardrobe, or perhaps already have one? The term ‘capsule wardrobe’ was created by British fashion icon Susie Faux in the 1970s, but it has since become an easy and realistic way to avoid fast fashion consumer habits. A capsule wardrobe consists of having a limited collection of practical and interchangeable pieces of clothing that allows you to create many different outfit combinations. There are many benefits that come with creating a capsule wardrobe, including reducing decision fatigue, curbing shopping habits that harm the planet, saving money, and even reducing stress! This is a timeless and affordable solution if you know your style and would like a fresh new feel to your closet. For a step-by-step guide to creating your own capsule wardrobe, visit Sustainably Chic’s Capsule Wardrobe blog.


3. Find a Slow Fashion Brand You’re Passionate About

Similar to finding your own style, you can also find a slow fashion clothing store or brand that will inspire you! Slow fashion falls under the umbrella of sustainable fashion, specifically pertaining to the advocacy for clothing and apparel to be manufactured with respect for people and the planet. Slow fashion is all about the intention and deliberation of making and wearing clothing. Currently, slow fashion is picking up across the globe, and many companies that aren’t founded on sustainable practices are beginning to realize that sustainability is a crucial part of consumerism. From purses to shoes to jeans, it is easy and quite fun to research which sustainable brands align with your style and ethics.

Not only are these brands using sustainable practices like carbon-offset shipping, recyclable or plastic-free packaging, and using natural materials in production, but they also tend to be more size-inclusive than fast fashion brands. In addition, pricing varies based on your needs and budget, so there is no need to break the bank in order to add slow fashion choices to your closet. Curious to see if the brand you love is considered slow fashion? Check out Good On You to see it’s fashion brand rating and discover a brand that helps you ‘wear the change you want to see’. To learn more about the materials you want your favorite brands to be using, take a look at this How to Read a Fashion Tag Guide.


4. Understand the Price Tag

We know the struggle; Fast fashion is cheap and convenient, but the guilt and lack of quality you receive from your purchase is simply not worth it! While it is easy to get caught up in the higher price tags of sustainable clothing, it is important to look at the reasons behind this price. Sustainable clothing companies typically use natural materials such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and linen, which cost more due to low yield and extra effort during processing. Over time, these materials will last longer, resulting in more bang for your buck. While the clothing items will be more expensive, in the long run, buying better quality, sustainable items will save you money as you don’t have to purchase new clothes so frequently.

Slow fashion companies also take the time to choose materials and pieces carefully with the intention behind their production. Instead of mass producing one item that results in a great deal of waste, they will take the time to create and sell each piece of clothing, resulting in a jump in price. Another very important reason for the price jump is fair worker treatment and wages. On the flip side, with the intense pressure to keep up with trends, fast fashion workers are subject to employee abuse and unethical working practices such as significantly lower wages for women, discrimination, forced labor, long working hours, and child labor. It is our job as consumers to support companies with ethics and practices that we believe in, making the higher price tag completely worth it.


5. Upcycle and Donate What you Already Have

Approximately 85% of the clothing Americans buy is sent to landfills as solid waste, amounting to nearly 3.8 billion pounds annually. Fortunately, there are ways that individuals can do their part to reduce these numbers. We want to avoid throwing away clothes, whether that be by repairing or donating clothes that can still be worn or coming up with clever ways to reuse an article of clothing that may be long past its prime. Good On You’s ‘7 Creative Ways to Upcycle your Old Clothes’ presents easy and useful ways to reuse clothes you no longer wear but aren’t in any shape to donate. If you recently had a closet clean-out, go through the pile you’re not keeping and decide how you are going to get rid of these clothes.

Consider trading with or just giving these clothes to friends and family. You can also donate to local humanitarian organizations that will get these clothes to the people who need them most. Finally, you can sell items in good condition to consignment stores that will give you cash or store credit, or even sell on online platforms like Depop, Thredup, or Facebook Marketplace. There are so many alternatives to throwing away clothes, and anything to keep clothes out of landfills is a win for sustainable fashion and consumerism!


6. Time to go Thrifting!

Last but certainly not least, avoid buying new clothes altogether! Thrifting is a great alternative to finding fun, unique pieces of clothing at an affordable price, all while preventing new clothes from being made. There are already so many clothes out there, and making new clothes takes time, resources, and money. Supporting a Circular Fashion Economy can have a huge positive impact on people and the planet, as said by apparel knowledge hub MOTIF, “the ultimate goal of circular fashion is that the lifecycle of products should bring no socio-economic or environmental harm”.

Thrifting has grown more popular in recent years as the sustainability movement also flourishes, but it is not the latest trend to be tried once and forgotten about soon after. Many low-income families rely on thrifting as an alternative to buying new and more expensive clothes from big market retailers, so it is important to understand the privilege of being able to shop from any clothing store you like. Use thrift stores as a way to change unsustainable consumer habits, but make sure to be respectful of what you are buying and where you are buying from.

By supporting sustainable fashion alternatives, we can begin making the fashion industry safer and friendlier for people, the planet, and our wallets! Whether you decide to pick up these habits and tips all at once or pick and choose the tips that fit your lifestyle more, ensuring that you are doing your part to support sustainable fashion is critical.