This February’s London Fashion Week is upon us, and taking centre-stage on their website is the ‘Positive Fashion Exhibition’. It aims to showcase the industry’s cutting-edge brands, who are leading the way in ‘sustainability, equality and diversity, and craftsmanship and community’. The concern for justice, for both people and planet, is moving into the mainstream in all sorts of interesting and exciting ways.
The tide of change has been turning for a while now. We can thank those who created the 2015 film, The True Cost. It made waves in the fashion industry for drawing attention to the real human and ecological costs of our fashion habits, and paved the way for Stacey Dooley’s popular 2018 BBC documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets.
Sustainability is on trend, but be cautious when big brands advertise that their garments are made from ‘partly recycled materials’. Though a step in the right direction, still the majority of what you’re buying has not been ethically or fairly produced. Above all we mustn’t allow ‘sustainability’ to be flaunted like a cheap badge of honour. Sustainability is a way of life. And when we neglect it, it can be a matter of life and death.
Here are three ways to make sustainable fashion part of your life:
Embrace slow fashion
Don’t buy the lie of fast fashion – that there are 52 seasons and you need to keep up. Refuse to pay budget prices for clothing that take time and energy to produce – remember, someone, somewhere, has to pay for it. Instead, embrace slow fashion where you make informed decisions to buy ethical clothing that lasts. Do that and you choose authenticity over fads, and integrity over convenience.
To get started, head to the Fashion Revolution. There you will find tons of information, like their most recent Fashion Transparency Index, which reviews and ranks 200 of the biggest brands. You could even join in with the largest clothes swap in history that they’re organising as part of the Fashion Revolution Week, 20-26 April.
Curate a capsule wardrobe
One practical way to embrace slow fashion is to commit to curating a capsule wardrobe. The crazy thing about a capsule wardrobe is that you actually wear the clothes you own. It means building a beautiful, functional wardrobe that lasts a life-time. One where you invest in each piece and make sure it’s one you love.
Find brands that you know are ethical. For example I like to buy my t-shirts from Asket and, when I need it, plan to buy my next pair of denim from Hiut. For more inspiration, check out Know The Origin, Everlane, or Patagonia.
Some criticise the capsule wardrobe as only a viable option for men; if that’s you, I recommend you check out Courtney Carver’s minimalist fashion challenge to women, Project 333.
Check your heart
Some people might disregard this post simply as another eco-trend blog that smacks of privilege. But if acting sustainably is a privilege that only some can afford, which it is, isn’t that the point? That if we’re able to, we should act in the interests of those who have less. Or, in the words of Jesus, ‘from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded’ (Luke 12:48).
Check your heart. If sustainable fashion sounds to you like a whole lot of fuss and a great inconvenience, then I encourage you to reflect upon some basic, fundamental Christian beliefs and go from there: God’s creation is a gift we are called to steward; all people are created equally in God’s image and are given immense dignity and worth. Any claim to know and love God is intricately bound with how we love others.