The concept of fashion constantly promotes a paradox to sustainability. The fashion industry is second only to the oil industry in regard to the amount of damage it causes our planet. Without direct action, it is predicted that the fashion industry will be responsible for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. It’s a terrifying statistic, but I firmly believe 2020 is the year when we can, and must, collectively turn a corner. In recent years, brands that have successfully managed to integrate the holy trinity of social, economic and environmental concerns into their companies’ core values have become trendsetters that have inspired us in the industry that there is a better way.
Make no mistake: the road ahead for brands, influencers and consumers will be difficult. But if we all pull together, we can show the world that fashion may be our passion, but so too is the health of the planet and everything and everybody dwelling on it. Some easy slow fashion guide below.
To start off with great and probably the most sustainable solution because you are not only giving the pieces you get a new life, but also the ones you give away = double the save from landfill.
SwapStyle is known as the trailblazer of clothing swap websites, giving you the opportunity to swap clothing, accessories and beauty supplies.
If you have specific clothing and accessory interests (for example, a handbag obsession), you can join groups on Rehash filled with like-minded women who have similar preferences.
thredUP has a slightly different approach to their clothing swap: You order a thredUP Clean Out Bag, fill it with items you no longer want, and they buy them from you for up to 40 percent of the resale value.
This clothing swap site is known as a curated consignment shop, where members trade high-end women’s clothing and accessories. They even have their very own “Fashion Police” that approve your items and price them with ReDollars that you can spend on other member duds.
Swapdom is an insanely efficient clothing swap site – simply enter what you want and what you’re willing to swap for it. Swapdom then arranges a multi-party trade where everyone involved gets exactly what they’ve requested.
Poshmark is a clothing swap app that completely runs on your cell phone. Simply list 5-10 items from your closet and search for other women who’d most likely be interested.
99dresses is also a clothing swap app. Upload a pic and details about the clothes you want to swap. You earn “buttons” based on the value of each piece, which you can spend on items listed by other fashionistas. You only pay for shipping and a small swap fee.
+ Another super sustainable solution because the pieces already exist, so you are saving the entire negative impact of production.
– The downside: buying second hand can give unconscious consumers who sell their clothes less incentive to think about their purchases, which fuels more fast fashion consumption.
For vintage finds and handmade clothing, Etsy is the online marketplace to shop.
2. The RealReal
The RealReal is an authenticated luxury consignment shop with more than nine million users. Featuring brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, you can indulge in your higher-end tastes at a lower price point, all while supporting sustainable shopping.
thredUP helps you shop the brands you love in an affordable, sustainable way. Known as the world’s largest online thrift and consignment store, you’ll find everything from throwback skirts to vintage blouses from the 35,000+ listed brands. Before you think that sounds overwhelming, ThredUp catalogs your sizes and preferences and automatically narrows in on pieces for you.
4. Beyond Retro
Beyond Retro is your one-stop-shop if you’re looking solely for vintage finds, especially from a company with a sustainable vision. Beyond Retro is committed to reducing, reusing, and reclaiming 10 billion items—and the brand’s practices are working. Beyond Retro uses eco-friendly packaging and carries an upcycled LABEL collection.
Founded by women for women, Tradesy has everything from vintage clothing to wedding dresses. Known for carrying designer brands like Gucci, DVF, and Rolex, the online platform guarantees authentic labels—or your money back.
+ Environmentally friendly by producing fewer new items.
– If you really want to find a con here’s one: slow fashion means sticking with what you have for a long time, so this can get difficult to practice when your tastes change.
NOTE: Quality is key here, take the time to really think about if the pieces suit your style and you can see yourself wearing them for a long time. It’s best to start with basics. When something breaks, check to see how you can get it repaired before you toss it.
+ Ensuring fair wages supports education and directly improves worker’s quality of life. If everyone had a living wage* we would see more happiness in the world = less conflict + more love & peace.
– Certifications can be misleading and mean different things than one might expect. Want to know more? Scroll down to the certifications link.
NOTE: Many smaller brands cannot afford certifications, so if they are not there this isn’t necessarily bad news. Look on their website to see what they say in their philosophy/codex/about page, check out their social media channels, and last of all ASK the brands about it. If you don’t get an answer, it’s probably a bad sign.
1. Alternative Apparel
Alternative Apparel offers minimalist basics like tees and tanks, distressed denim, and hoodies, many of which are Fair Trade and WRAP certified.
Founded in 2004, Veja is a Fair Trade brand that uses the finest materials to create the finest of footwear and accessories. Labeling their company philosophy as a “project,” Veja is serious about knowing who grew the cotton, tapped the rubber, and stitched your shoes together.
3. Armed Angels
Armed Angels infuses their philosophy of Fair Fashion over Fast Fashion into all of their modern and contemporary essentials. Their fabrics meet the Global Organic Textile Standard while they are part of the Fair Trade initiative and Fair Wear foundation.
4. People Tree
For over 25 years, People Tree has been a pioneer in making environmentally sustainable clothing, partnering with artisans and farmers in developing countries to produce look good, feel good, fashion. They do everything Fair Trade, organic, and natural so that they can—and do a lot to connect consumers with the people and stories behind their clothes.
Kowtow’s minimalist clothing is certified organic and fair trade. With an interest in craftsmanship and sustainability, they exclusively use organic cotton, GOTS certified dyes, and have partnered with Fairtrade International to help cover education and medical costs for employees.
+ Environmentally friendly because it reduces the negative environmental impact caused by animals.
+ You prevent animals from dying or suffering for your clothes.
– Some brands will use plastic or other non biodegradable fibers as a replacement to animal based products. Unfortunately, these materials often end up in landfills after a short amount of time. This directly contributes to eco-pollution.
NOTE: Look for innovative materials like pinatex, lenzing tencil, cork, seacell, mycoworks (mushroom skin) and brands that use recycled materials.
+ Waste reducing!
+ With recycled PET we also become less reliant on fossil fuels = reduction of GHG emissions.
– Sets microfibres which can’t be filtered out of out water free.
– Often uses more energy and chemicals than new garments.
NOTE: The process of recycling PET bottles needs a ton of energy and chemicals, so to create a piece which will only have a short life span it is not so eco-friendly after all. Take a closer look at the product, to see if the quality will last more than just a few seasons and it is not a time bound design.