Is Sustainable Fashion Affordable?
Posted by LILLIE CHAPMAN
Sustainable fashion = clothing and accessories that are produced with ecological and social responsibility in mind. Sustainable fashion doesn't = expensive. Expensive fashion doesn't = sustainable.
Luxury, high-end garments and accessories are often made in the same factories as their knock-offs or other affordable fast fashion (FF) brands. Do you remember the Burberry scandal of 2018? Caught burning all their unsold stock to maintain prestige. Nike, Gucci and H&M have also been caught doing this. Environmentally toxic acts are common place in the FF industry and a scandal like this is just the tip of the scandalous iceberg. Begging the question, how much does it actually cost these companies (luxury or cheap) to make a product?
Just a recap, FF is a design, a method focused on producing high volumes of clothing very quickly. Cutting corners if you will, FF brands steal/replicate independent fashion designers using low-quality materials. Typically man-made, plastic-based fibres like polyester or extremely poor quality natural fibres, mixed with 'something else'. Creating harmful, long lasting impacts on our natural environment. Not to mention the treatment of and poor conditions garment workers are forced to endure for less than a fair wage. If you don't know someone or you can't see someone with your own eyes, does that mean they don't exist? Do their rights as a human being not exist? The same can be questioned about the state of the environment. If you don't live down stream from a factories toxic runoff, does it mean it isn't happening?
On top of this, FF brands design clothes to break and be faulty. With the majority of FF items lasting less than 10 wears. The idea that clothes are designed to break, to be short-lived is the fuel for the hyper-consumerism world they have created. Even if you fix the tears, mend the rips, change the broken zip, ignore the shoddy stitching, this garment is designed to break again! Why? So you have to buy MORE!
When I say FF, I am not singling out one brand or naming any because it is up to you as the consumer to do your own research. Nor do I call out anyone for shopping FF, no judgement here. This post is about individually taking a step back, looking at what you consume and asking yourself is it sustainable? If I want to shop, I always start here - Good On You. It's a directory for clothing brands with ratings out of 5 for planet, people and animals. You can sort your search by price point and location *chefs kiss* 🤌🏼.
Buying a product from a small handmade e.g. the Chunky Boy Singlet that is made with longevity in mind from locally sourced, bio-degradable materials is ultimately more sustainable and cheaper IN THE LONG RUN than buying a $5 singlet every month.
There are so many ways to live sustainably and no-one is perfect (including myself) but thinking about why you buy things and at what cost to yourself and others is one hell of a start. The way our thoughts have changed when it comes to plastic packaged vegetables, caged eggs, disposable coffee cups, etc proves that we can always be a better version of ourselves and make eco-conscious decisions in our every day life.
P.S Don't forget if your on a tight budget opt for these sustainable measures instead of FF - mending, op-shopping, clothes swaps, up-cycle or make your own.