25-Apr-2018

Getting started with ethical fashion

It's Fashion Revolution week, let's talk..... 

There’s a certain sense of gratification about heading out shopping and coming back with a mini haul of new clothes. But how often do you end up sending something you bought on sale to the Op Shop because it doesn’t fit properly; or find that the cheap product you purchased because it was a bargain falls apart after a couple of washes?

Our spending habits around clothing come at a massive cost. The multi-billion-dollar fashion industry is the world’s second most polluting industry after oil,[1] with toxic chemicals poisoning water supplies in developing countries such as China and India, where clothing manufacturing is a major industry.

Workers, who are mostly female, are paid poor wages and work in unsafe conditions for long hours, many having to send their children back to villages to be cared for by family members.

By choosing more ethical brands that pay workers a living wage, and are committed to more natural, environmentally friendly fabrics and dyes, we can together help to bring about change to an industry that has been frustratingly slow to act.

Alice Jones from ethical, fair trade brand Sinerji , shares with us her top five tips to help you make more ethical fashion choices. (Read more about Sinerji and their approach to ethical fashion in our story Changing lives with the clothes we buy). 

1. Get to know the industry by watching documentaries like True Cost or River Blue

Get together with some friends and make a night of it. These documentaries open our eyes to the reality of the industry and help us to connect with how something is made.

You could also join us up with a group of friends who are committed to not buying anything for 6 months to test themselves to see if they can do it, supporting each other along the way.

2. Choose well made products you love and feel great in

These will last longer, and you will wear them more often. It’s helpful to conduct a wardrobe audit, pulling out the things you love most from your wardrobe. Consider where you bought each item, how much you paid for it and what about it makes you feel great – the cut, the fabric? Is there a connection to a conversation you had when purchasing it, or with the designer? Use these stories to help inform your buying decisions rather than being influenced by advertising, trends or sales.

3. Choose natural fibres

Natural fibres such as organic cotton and bamboo are breathable and feel better on your skin. They are also far better at managing odours and perspiration than synthetic fibres such as nylon.

Petroleum-based fibres are incredibly polluting in the production phase and can take hundreds of years to break down. Natural fibres like linen and hemp will break down easily and create little pollution during manufacture when compared with polyester, nylons & other man-made fabrics.

4. Consider building a capsule wardrobe

This involves creating a mix of essential pieces that you love and that don’t date – a great jacket, a beautiful dress, a pair of trousers, a pair of jeans. These can be augmented with things you find along the way. The classic essentials stay in your wardrobe and can be worn for many years, giving you the freedom to discard other things you don’t need. This approach helps you to resist buying anything that that is not high quality and long-lasting.

5. Go vintage or support local and handmade

Visit local markets, seek out young designers’ markets or discover gorgeous little vintage shops. The Young Designer Markets and Etsy markets in Brisbane a couple of times a year are great options.

There are also a lot more alternatives online now, and a good way to test out the customer service of a brand is to email them for assistance with buying your correct size, or asking them how their clothing is made. If they’re lovely and helpful, and open about this information, you can buy from them with confidence. Fortunately, we now have easy access to gorgeous handmade clothing that isn’t expensive but is more interesting and well made.

The Sinerji store is located at 330 Mons Road, Forest Glen on the Sunshine Coast or buy online

[1]http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/heidy-rehman/shocking-environmental-fast-fashion_b_8009850.html

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