A Guide to Sustainable Fashion for 2019
Around the 1920s, the mass production of clothing emerged as a result of mass consumerism and industrialization. In order for people to access fashion and clothing, there was a movement from the lengthy and expensive process of ordering bespoke items, to purchasing more affordable pieces of standardized sizes. In line with the explosion of Hollywood and digital media, many people wanted to emulate the designer celebrities that appeared onscreen and in print. “Fast fashion” gave people an accessible way to do so. Brands like ZARA, Forever 21 and H&M are all high street fashion houses which provide more affordable pieces that model looks from the runway.
However, with the proliferation of “fast fashion,” unethical practices have been brought to light as companies try to maximize profit and minimize costs. Sweatshops, low wages and toxic working conditions in factories overseas plague these big companies, disproportionately affecting the women who work in these shops to provide for their families. Unsustainable production methods use a massive amount of resources. Often, through dumping waste into large bodies of water, they release dangerous chemicals back in the environment.
In recent years, many people have become more aware of these issues. Hence, they are now trying to purchase from smaller brands that operate on more ethical and sustainable standards. Larger companies, like H&M, are also trying to provide lines that are more environmentally conscious.
Yet, an issue with this movement is the economic accessibility and practicality of buying from these brands. While the products are more ethically made and are usually better quality, they aren’t always affordable, nor are they inclusive for all people. Another way to participate in the sustainable fashion movement is to buy clothes from thrift stores. That way, you can update your wardrobe without contributing to the the cycle of mass consumerism.
As we enter 2019 and “Marie Kondo” our closets, here are some brands and stores to keep in mind as you buy things that can spark joy while maintaining ethical shopping practices:
($$-$$$$) All of Reformation’s pieces are made from “super sustainable materials, rescued dead-stock fabrics and repurposed vintage clothing.” From recycled cashmere sweaters to dresses with sleek silhouettes, Reformation will have something stylish to carry you through the holidays and beyond.
($-$$) Everlane strives to be known for its “Exceptional quality. Ethical factories. Radical Transparency.” Their neutral-toned and easy-to-match wardrobe staples give you a way to stock up on pieces that are both luxurious and ethically made.
($-$$) Krochet Kids International works with a nonprofit partner to give opportunities to women in need. With every purchase, you are introduced to the woman who made the item and are able to learn more about her online — as well as send an encouraging message to her!
($$-$$$) Based in the UK, People Tree follows Fair Trade principles to make most of their products from locally-sourced organic cotton, natural and recycled materials and safe dyes. They also strive to ship most of their products by sea to minimize their impacts on global warming.