I’ve been a little disenchanted with the sustainable fashion topic lately. If you read my last post you’ll know what I’m talking about. The fact is that since I’m involved in this sustainable fashion with my blog and instagram profile, the stuff never ends. I keep seeing people in instagram promoting products as “sustainable” or “ethical” or “organic” and don’t get me started with “vegan fashion”… This is madness.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think that a fashion production model that follows sustainability and ethical criteria is simply the right thing to do. It just makes sense. The point is that we have two main categories: small and medium-sized business and then the fashion giants.
Let’s take a closer look.
Small brands. They are beautiful and follow sustainability and/or ethical practices.
Well, imagine you discover an ideal clothing brand that is tiny and manufactures in Vietnam, in a workshop run by women who earn a decent salary that allows them to lead a decent life.
I’m the first one to spend the dollars. But what’s the point? Well, the truth is that I don’t NEED anything, but hmmm, they have a very cute white shirt. In my wardrobe there must be 4 or 5 different white shirts but each one is different, I swear…
I decided to buy the white shirt. I buy it online of course, because they obviously don’t have a physical store (usually the case with small businesses), so I can’t try it on first. I pay for the shirt, I pay for the shipping and I get it from Vietnam to Spain (let’s leave the carbon footprint issue aside for now). Let’s assume I try it on and it’s okay. Which is a lot to assume, but anything is possible.
So far, so good, right?
Well, yes. I bought another white shirt, from a brand that, from what I’ve seen on their website, does things well… I have spent a lot between the shirt and the shipping costs, but hey, if I can afford it, why not?
In this case, the sustainable part of it goes down the toilet.
I don’t really need another white shirt.
In the end what’s going to happen is that I don’t wear it that much anyway. Or that I get rid of one of the ones I already have because I no longer like it.
But well, you don’t have to restrain that much either, do you? If I feel like buying something new because my wardrobe is boring, or just because, I buy it and I’m so happy, at least for a few days.
Then we have the example of the fashion giants
I was one of those who would go to Zara and go wild. I would walk around the coat racks and take everything I liked. I’d go to the dressing room and I’d keep whatever looked good. Like that without thinking. Cheap clothes, cute, and new things for the closet. Now I think about it and I think it’s crazy. But I know that there are tons of women that do this.
But what consequences does this have?
Many. And none of them are good ones.
Again, we accumulate. In the end, it’s buying for buying, without needing. We spend a lot of money that we could save or use for another purpose. Surely there are a few garments that you won’t wear too much, because Zara’s clothes are usually trendy. When the trend ends, you stop wearing it because “it’s not in” anymore. And that’s just sad. Fashion goes in circles and everything comes back. At least that’s a good thing.
It also happened that I needed to replace something in my wardrobe (a black shirt) and I didn’t have time to look for a sustainable brand that would have one, have it arrive home, then try it on and be so lucky that it looked goo on me (let’s face it, ASOS returns policy is a luxury only big ones can afford). I also couldn’t afford to pay $200+ for the garment, I didn’t have that budget.
So what did I do? I went to Massimo Dutti (love their designs) and bought one for $70 or $100 instead of $200 or more. Was it a bad decision? I don’t think so. I looked at the label and it was made in Portugal. Made of 100% linen (natural fabric) and also very cute and within my budget. In this case I gave a vote to Massimo Dutti (who belongs to the Inditex group, the “fast fashion monster” as some call it) but I gave him a vote for something made of linen and manufactured in a country with regulations for textile workers.
Read more about shopping from fast fashion brands here
In my case, I could afford the $100 shirt, but there are people who can’t and they buy the $30 or $10 Zara or Primark shirt made of polyester and manufactured in who knows where under who knows what conditions for the garment workers.
Is that a bad decision? Everyone should look at their circumstances, their possibilities and their wardrobe. And then apply your own judgment.There are SO MANY reasons behind each purchase and all of them can be justified if we apply logic. Of course, buying second hand, vintage or from sustainable brands will always be better, but this is not for everybody and we need to educate ourselves first in this matter to be able to make the right choice.
It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that the best way to go is to have a “capsule wardrobe”. If you already do, tell me about the experience. I’m very interested and have several books on the subject waiting in my Kindle to read.
Let’s think beyond the closet
I think we should think a little further when we consume fashion. I’m the first to make mistakes. In the last two years I have made a few, similar to the example of the white shirt. I realize all the factors surrounding that purchase and our closet, and I don’t see that people are aware of all this.
I think we have to look beyond the sustainable or ethical practices applied to fashion pieces, or even whether it is expensive or cheap. There is something else we need to think about: do I need it? am I going to wear it? what does it bring to my wardrobe? can I combine it with the rest of the things I have? do I already have something similar? …
I’ll leave you with this thought.
Wearing a Maje silk shirt that must be about 5 years old, combined with Matter Prints pants. Shoes are from In Moss, made by hand in Spain. Rattan bag is from a market in Bali.