Some ideas to be a responsible fashion consumer

I recently bought a blue button up shirt by Re: (available through David Jones) and reading the label’s philosophy made me think about what I’m calling “responsible fashion”.

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I could easily write a blog post about the true cost of fast fashion, but it’s done many times before (this for example) and at a better quality than I could ever do. There’s also a movie called The True Cost which gives a disturbing  account of what it takes for our clothing to be cheap. There’s the book The End of Fashion, which discusses how fashion has changed from being something that was determined by designers and fashion editors to being driven by consumers, and subsequently devaluing the time it takes to make and create a beautiful piece of clothing.

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However, there are now a growing number of designers and labels (and indeed, some high street brands) that are creating lines that are responsible in more ways than one. One of them is Re:, a new label from David Jones which promotes eco-friendly practices such as sourcing fabric from sustainable sources, making clothes out of recycled bottles, and using less water and energy in the dyeing process. With this environmentally conscious practice in mind, I wanted to share some ideas on how we can all be responsible fashion consumers, even if it’s in just some small way.

  1. Buy eco-friendly brands. These brands promote using sustainable manufacturing processes such as using less water and energy (like Re:), reducing manufacturing waste, and using materials that are sustainable, recycled, organically and/or ethically sourced. Brands such as re/done and Reformation also create clothes by upcycling.
    My favourite Australian eco-friendly brands: Bassike (uses organic jersey); Gorman (uses sustainble and ethically sourced materials); Bamboo Body (uses bamboo, which uses less water and chemicals in its production).
  2. Buy ethical brands. These brands have agreements in place to ensure that workers are not exploited and that they have good working conditions. Happy workers means better clothes.
    My favourite labels that are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia: Nobody Denim, Cue, Scanlan and Theodore, Viktoria + Woods, Thurley
  3. Buy local. Buying Australian made means fashion labels should comply with our local labour codes (although according to Choice that isn’t always the case). Consider also buying from smaller, local designers and artisans – not only are you supporting their art, but the clothing doesn’t have to travel as far to get to us, thus having a much smaller carbon footprint than that $15 t-shirt from Boohoo.
    My favourite places in Sydney to find local designers: Paddington Markets, Bondi Markets, Surry Hills Markets, Cambridge Markets, Finders Keepers Markets
  4. Buy second hand. As you already know, I’m a huge fan of buying second hand, whether it be through the local charity shop, second hand markets, or on eBay. Not only can you get pretty good quality clothing at a fantastic price, but you’re also helping charities (if op-shopping) with their goodwill work as well as reducing the amount of clothing that can end up as landfill.
    My favourite places in Sydney to shop second hand: Rozelle Markets, Rozelle Vinnies, Salvos Darlinghurst, Salvos Neutral Bay, Glebe Markets, Surry Hills Markets, Kirribilli Markets
  5. Follow the 30 wears principle. Fast fashion retailers are pretty much in our faces whenever we go to our local mall or shopping centre, so it’s sometimes inevitable that we buy something from there. However, before you pull out the wallet, consider whether you would wear that item 30 times of more. If you think you can, go ahead and buy it. If not, put it back on the rack – sure, that ruffled fuschia off-shoulder blouse may look super cute, but if you’re only going to wear it with one piece of clothing in your wardrobe and only in summer then you’re not really going to get the most of out of it. (Read more about 30 wears here)
  6. Make your own clothes. Just like growing our own vegetables, making our own clothes is probably the most responsible fashion consumer practice there is – that is, of course, if you’re a dab hand with the sewing machine! To be really sustainable, check out places like this one which is basically an op-shop for sewing and craft enthusiasts, selling discontinued fabric, patterns and yarn. You can also refashion your old clothing so that it becomes something new, or if you have a good relationship with a tailor or seamstress they can do the hard work for you.

Instagram husband thought some pics beside the pipes would be creative, and who was I to argue with the photographer?

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What I’m wearing: Re: Girlfriend Shirt in Blue | Bassike grey jeans (practices sustainable manufacturing; also bought second hand) | Rag and Bone boots (bought second hand) | Resin ring by a local Sydney artist (bought from Kirribilli Markets) 

Shop similar below (all brands chosen for their responsible fashion practices):

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