13 Jul How To Make Sustainable Fashion Accessible To All
Currently, our fashion choices are coming under the lens, so we welcome this new era of sustainable fashion. But while shoppers are demanding clothes that are kinder to the planet, not everyone has access to this change. Sustainable fashion has become exclusive, the very culture it should be avoiding. The urgency for sustainable and ethical clothing couldn’t be higher, so why is it not accessible to all?
There is a lack of representation on diversity, sizing and inclusivity. Diverse voices are often absent in the sustainable fashion discussion. And as long as sustainable fashion markets itself towards white women, the industry discriminates against many who wish to be part of it.
Eco-friendly clothing often comes with a hefty price tag, making it a luxury commodity for many. The sourcing of high-quality and eco-friendly materials, ethical factories and paying fair wages will all add to the cost of the clothing. It means despite all of its negative impacts, the fast fashions price point is very accessible.
The plus-size market is forecasted to make up only 22% of the UK clothing market by 2022, yet the average UK dress size is 16. So while the demand for eco-clothing is ever growing, the lack of plus-sizing is a real issue.
The absence of plus-sizing, diversity, the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community and disabled people within sustainable fashion is damaging. An industry promoting sustainability while still using an archaic business model will struggle to create any real change.
So, here are some tips on how we as consumers can make sustainable fashion available to all.
Host a Clothing Swap
The most sustainable fashion is the clothes we already have in our wardrobes.
Find a good location to meet, whether in a garden or a cosy nook in the living room and gather friends and family to a covid-safe clothing swap. Letting your unloved clothes go to new homes and exchanging them for something you adore is a fun and inspiring introduction to sustainable fashion. Hosting clothing swaps every few months is a great way to refresh your wardrobe without harming the environment. Remember to limit the number of clothes people bring to the event to ensure it doesn't become a jumble sale. You never know you even may fall back in love with old clothes on the next swap. Enjoy snacks, drinks and seeing friends, all while helping to save the planet!
Help create a circular economy in fashion and buy second hand. The UK discards 11 million items of clothing into landfills every week, so buying second-hand and keeping clothes out of incinerators is a powerful way to support sustainable fashion. According to ThreadUp, the second-hand market was valued at $24 billion in 2018 with its projected growth to reach 1.5 times the size of the fast fashion market in the next decade.
In the last few years, resale companies have grown exponentially. Ebloggers, founded in 2017, is now the go-to online shop for pre-loved clothing. Direct from the overflowing wardrobes of your favourite bloggers or influencers, consumers can shop on-trend surplus fashion. From Vinted to Vesitaire Collective, the second-hand market is ever-expanding. Etsy just bought Depop for £1.1billion. The resale market is being driven by the climate-aware younger generations. From charity shops to online apps, buying second hand is an easy and accessible way to choose more sustainable options.
Credit - Ebloggers
We understand that buying second-hand is not always the best option for every occasion, sometimes the need for something new is all too tempting. Hiring clothes is a great way to refresh your wardrobe without the negative impacts on the environment.
The sharing economy is booming, rental apps or platforms such as Endless Wardrobe, By Rotation, and My Wardrobe HQ have all rapidly grown. HURR, a rental platform, has even set up shop in the London Selfridges store as part of its sustainability initiative - Project Earth. According to Forbes, the sharing economy is estimated to value £269 billion by 2025. Choose the sustainable way to wear fashion and try renting.
Restoration and Mending
Making clothes last longer is a big step for sustainability, the make do and mend attitude is back. Whether we want to let out, hem or cinch in our clothes, repairing garments is a great way to stop our wardrobes from heading straight to the landfill. With changing figures, lengths and trends, fixing clothes to fit in with our timeline is an easy move towards sustainable fashion.
When your favourite pair of jeans fray or buttons start to fall off on your best shirt, extending the shelf life of your beloved items is now simple and easy. Repair shops and services are cropping up everywhere, offering much-needed restoration to our clothing. From the Denim Doctor, The Restory, to the Clothes Doctor, there are many options available to help restore your clothes to their former glory.
Made To Last
Buying clothes that are made to last is a very sustainable option. Choose garments that are timeless and will stand the test of time. Retailers are beginning to address sustainability but continue to ignore the endless waste of fashion. Rethink your fast fashion ways and choose slow. Slow fashion encourages consumers to ditch their relentless buying habits and instead choose items that will last a lifetime. Buying slow fashion from ethical and sustainable brands is a great way to reduce your overall waste while supporting local businesses.
Credit - Stidston Studio
Individual behaviour is a powerful tool in accelerating change within the industry. Whether you are swapping clothes with friends to investing in ethical brands - whichever way you can, supporting the sustainable fashion movement will help create a better world for all.
By Esme Bourne.
Writer bio - Esme Bourne is the Editorial Assistant at Wearth, specialising in sustainable fashion and beauty.