Simple Tips On How To Make More Sustainable Fashion Choices (Without Compromising On Style).
By Emma Petterwood
Having Co-Founded a sustainable fashion business (cue: After Eight), one of the first questions I am asked is “why does sustainable fashion matter?”
Followed quickly by “where do I start?” And, “what are the best sustainable fashion brands?”
It matters because…
- 80% of the textiles used worldwide end up in landfill.
- Around 80 billion garments are produced each year – a 400% increase in production from 20 years ago.
- Australians purchase 27kg of new textiles each year and then discard around 23kg into landfill—annually.
- All up, the fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluter in the world, contributing 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon a year.
I think we can all agree these are alarming stats.
If you’re curious about how we can reduce our fashion environmental impact then I invite you to read my roundup of ideas that will get you started.
Tip #1 Invest in trans-seasonal pieces
Focus on buying items that you know are going to work for you all-year-round. Avoid buying an entirely new summer wardrobe each year when you live in the colder parts of Australia like us (Me, Tassie and Fleur, Victoria) – you won’t pass the 30 wears test (see Tip #2). Instead, spend your money on pieces that will see you through more than one season. Jeans, t-shirts, tailored trousers, a black blazer, classic and block-colour dresses, timeless coats, quality knitwear.
Stylist’s pick: Painters Shirt by Michael Lo Sordo.
Tip #2 The 30 wears test
Livia Firth, the Co-Founder of @ecoage (a company that certifies brands for their sustainability) began the #30wears campaign to encourage us to only buy an item if we really know that we’ll wear it.
“Every time you buy something, always ask yourself, ‘Will I wear it a minimum of 30 times?’ If the answer is yes, then buy it. But you’d be surprised how many times you say no”, she says.
Invest in pieces with more longevity that you will love and wear again and again. Pick versatile pieces that can be styled in different ways, rather than that one item you know is going to fall out of fashion in no time. As we say, buy once, buy well.
Side note: if you have an event that you want to wear something extra special for and you know the dress you have your eye on definitely won’t pass the 30 wears test then we recommend hiring it. There are lots of great businesses out there doing this, we love Rent The Runway or All The Dresses.
Stylist’s pick: The Gianna Blazer by Anna Quan.
Tip #3 Buy once, buy well
We believe in investing in quality and longevity over quantity and trends. We realise the price is higher than buying a cheap high-street product (and that it isn’t always achievable to have a wardrobe full of sustainable clothes). However, we think with a mindset shift it is all possible. Yes, it costs more, but you’re likely to a) care for it, and therefore b) have it longer and will be buying less per season overall.
Aim to buy 5-15 high-quality items per year, rather than 30 (or more) cheaper, less eco-friendly pieces. This will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint and you’ll feel and look better for it. Win, win.
Tip #4 Change your thinking around fashion and shopping
Every new piece of clothing made has a substantial carbon footprint attached to it, but the amount of new energy needed to produce vintage clothing is zero.
“Vintage clothing has a huge role to play in making fashion more sustainable and reducing a global footprint that includes the 132m metric tonnes of coal used yearly through the production of new fibres, dyeing and bleaching of garments and the 6-9 trillion litres of water used by the industry”, says sustainable fashion muse, Emma Watson.
Vintage doesn’t always mean you have to shop secondhand.
Stylist’s pick #1: Vintage Levis 70s Stove Pipe by Re/Done.
Reconstructed from vintage Levis that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. There is something really special about these jeans – from the history held in the fabric to the one-of-a-kind nature.
Tip #5 Look after your clothes so they stand the test of time.
It sounds obvious, but it’s so important. Of course, if you buy better quality clothes, they are likely to last longer (and you’re also more likely to treat them better because they were more expensive) but this goes for everything hanging in your wardrobe. Look after them properly and you will have to replace things less often. From caring for your cashmere to washing your denim inside out, go the extra effort to ensure your clothes stay at their best for longer.
Stylist’s pick: The Boyfriend Shirt by Frame
What I love most about this shirt is that it’s made from washable silk, making care effortless and reducing the toxic impact of dry cleaning processes.
Tip #6 Shop at retailers with sustainability-driven values
Enter After Eight. Our online store makes it easy for you to make wise wardrobe decisions, for your wardrobe and our world. How? Our curated edits provide you with the knowledge you need, understanding that you can trust these brands have been carefully reviewed and meet our criteria for all things considered.
You can read more here about what sustainability means to us and our selection criteria.
And, if you like to indulge in a little retail therapy after the kids (or pets) are in bed then we have you covered. After Eight (yes, we mean 8pm) is the time to slow down and top up on a world of good; conversing and consuming in considered, not careless, fashion.