Ethical fashion: How to dress without breaking the bank
For several years now, ethical fashion has conquered the clothing market.
Why? Because fashion is the second highest polluting industry in the world. Many shocking images have revealed the behind-the-scenes of how our garments are made, be it forced child labor, or disasters like the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. More than 1100 people lost their lives in this Bangladeshi building that housed several garment factories, mainly serving Western countries.
Ethical fashion is more respectful of the environment and the people working in the industry. It places value on recycled materials and local manufacturing. But ethical fashion often goes hand in hand with expensive pieces.
However, there are some tips to know if you want to change your habits and discover ‘slow fashion’, in order to end the tyranny of disposable garments. Here is some advice for dressing ethically, without spending half of your salary.
Looking at clothing composition: the basis of ethical fashion
When you want to buy clothes more equitably, one of the first things to do is look at the labels that detail their composition.
The fabrics to shun
Synthetic fabrics often derived from petrochemicals, or artificial components (which go through a transformation process) such as acrylic or polyester represent nearly 60% of the textile used in the clothing industry. The manufacturing process for these fibers is highly polluting, in particular including the extraction of oil.
Natural materials obtained from growing plants or raising animals (fur, wool) account for almost 40% of the textile used in clothing manufacturing, but the manufacturing process of these materials is equally harmful for the environment because it often involves mass agricultural production. Cotton growing, for example, requires vast quantities of water and the use of many pesticides that then pollute the groundwater.
The materials to bet on
To dress ethically, we recommend choosing eco-responsible natural materials. Take organic cotton for example, its culture requires 60% less water than non-organic cotton. It’s also less blended with other materials, giving it a higher quality and durability than regular cotton. Flax is a very pleasant material to wear in summer, and is also one of the most ecological fibers, because it requires little fertilizer and has a much higher yield rate than cotton. If you want a little wool sweater for the winter, choose pure untreated virgin wool.
Other materials such as hemp (a fiber capable of absorbing CO2), or lyocell, also called tencel, produced from wood pulp, are also favourable textiles. These materials may seem expensive to buy, but the investment will be considered minimal in the long run, since these more respectful materials are also known to last longer.
Ethical fashion: choose clothing made near you
Buying clothes that haven’t been made thousands of miles away from home is also part of ethical fashion consumption.
The textile industry exploits tens of millions of children. These children, who most often work for major clothing brands, are exposed to dangerous chemicals that impact their health on a daily basis.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to these practices. More and more brands are turning to locally-made clothing, a significant selling point for companies that are riding the ethical fashion wave. This movement strengthens the local economy, but often, the price of these products remains very high because the brands have large margins.
However, many small local designers have adopted this local manufacturing and some sell their pieces at very reasonable prices. They are even able to compete with the prices of some giants in the industry, while still playing the ethical fashion card.
Become hooked to second-hand stores
For those who like to dress vintage and uncover small treasures, know that shopping in thrift stores is an ethical approach!
It should be known that manufacturing a pair of jeans requires nearly 10,000 liters of water in addition to pesticides, dyes and transport. Levi’s 501 jeans worn by our moms have become a staple in our wardrobe and can be found in any good second-hand store! Buying your jeans second-hand avoids remaking a new piece. Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed!
If you want to stand out with a unique style, look for garage sales, thrift shops or Salvation Army stores near you and you will surely find some rare gems! Vintage is trendy!
For a more ethical fashion: give your clothes a second life
To keep your clothes longer, invest in locally-made good quality clothes or recycle your old clothes to give them a modern touch. This goes hand in hand with reducing your clothing consumption.
Admittedly, there are mornings where we spend a good amount time in front of our wardrobe thinking that we have nothing else to wear. Instead of rushing into the first store you come across, there are more eco-responsible alternatives, such as trading or borrowing clothing. Many platforms and Facebook groups exist for people that are interested in this type of consumption.
Transform your old clothes
If you know how to handle a sewing machine or if your grandmother knows how to sew like a pro, you can bring old forgotten clothes back up-to-date. Fashion is an endless renewal!
Don’t hesitate to repair clothes you like instead of throwing them away or replacing them with new pieces.
Wearing an ethical fashion style on a small budget is far from impossible. Just a hint of resourcefulness and a little common sense is needed to adopt this type of consumption, without spending too much.
To find ethical and affordable clothing, visit our online store.