When, in 1975, US scientist Wallace Broecker coined the term “global warming”, it’s entry into the public realm signaled that we would be discussing our natural environment and our effects upon it with an ever increasing frequency.
Twelve years after that, the world’s population hit 5 billion. That’s 5 billion people with food, shelter and clothing needs. We are projected to hit a population of 9 billion by 2050. Time’s up.
That’s where sustainable fashion comes in. We just can’t shop at the rate we are shopping at. We have to slow down our consumption. When I say we, I have to start with me. Now.
So, once I’ve made the decision to sashay down the eco-fashion and sustainability path, how am I going to stay well-dressed and mind the planet at the same time?
This is the first in a series of articles where I will outline what choices I am making to ensure my style is more sustainable and ethical.
OK, this is possibly not quite a road to Damascus moment for me. I have never really been a fast fashion guy. I would not be the type to come home with several bags after a shopping spree. I would have chosen my clothes quite carefully and bought in small amounts, but not necessarily ethically or sustainably. If I liked it I bought it. Whether it was organic cotton or not for example did not really register. So, I am not turning over a new leaf exactly, but just paying a lot more attention to that leaf (nice green analogy there?). Some of the biggest luxury labels in the world refuse to disclose where their gear is made. Luxury high-end style does not mean ethical practice. I need not kid myself on that all the expensive threads are ethical ones. Their clothes and shoes may endure and wash well, but who made them where and does the brand give a crap?
The clothes I will add to my wardrobe will have be built to last. This goes from the selvedge denim I won’t wash to the socks I will. A lot of companies take real pride in how their products are made. If they do, then it will (or certainly should) be on their website or social media feeds. I will research before I buy. Even if I love the item it must come under scrutiny.
Shoes will be made by companies with pedigree and pursuit of excellence in quality shoe-making. This means they will last if I care for them properly. The price I pay is an investment in quality. It doesn’t mean they have to cost a fortune. The shoe manufacturer Toms would be case and point. Their ethics and business model is impressive. Provenance is once more and always important. It just has to be.
Coats and jackets will ideally come from renowned manufacturers and have a history of excellence and would ideally be made in the UK or Ireland. However, regardless of where my jacket is made, it should be easy for me to find such information before buying. If it’s made in China, I want to know that the factory is inspected and ethically operated. Where does the cotton or other materials come from? Jackets can be waxed and cleaned by me. Leather jackets can use an annual bout of care giving. I have always looked after my clothes by folding, wooden hangers (except after a major night out), washing at 30oC, but I will have to step it up a bit.
Buy one top quality short or t-shirt as opposed to several mediocre ones. Wash only when the clothes really need it.
Time to get going! You coming too?
Thanks for reading.