In a world of ‘fast fashion’ it's easy to forget about how to build an ethical wardrobe. When clothing and accessories are sold cheaply and replaced quickly, it’s easy to get swept along with the desire for the latest trends. As we banish piles of poor-quality, only-worn-once clothes to the bin and follow insatiable cravings for the next round of cheap, trend-focused garments, it’s not surprising that the idea of an ethical wardrobe often escapes us.
As the sustainability issues of the fashion industry amplify, and horror stories from manufacturing processes come to light, there has been a surge in the number of people looking to become more environmentally-conscious when it comes to their wardrobes. Take our wonderful Colville Leather customers, for example: actively choosing unique, artisan products designed to last a lifetime, over mass-produced items that are lacking in quality and promise.
Other than supporting ethical fashion brands, there are a host of simple, yet empowering ways to get involved and help build a more sustainable future for the world of fashion. From caring for our clothes more considerately, to ditching those transient, trend-focused garments, there’s a whole range of solutions that we can adopt to fit in with our individual lifestyles.
Here we’ve gathered together some top tips for how to build an ethical wardrobe…
1. Embrace your existing wardrobe
First of all, don’t make the common mistake of thinking you need to throw away everything in your wardrobe and rebuild your clothing collection from scratch. By embracing existing items, you’re keeping waste out of landfills and taking the first step on the road to sustainability. Get creative with your old clothes, either by styling them with different accessories or reinventing them with simple DIY tricks.
And when you are ready to depart with some old clothes, don’t just throw them away. You may have a friend who’s always envied your wardrobe prowess – why not give them the chance to bring new life to your unwanted items?
2. Choose quality over quantity
One of the best tips for building an ethical wardrobe is to shop less and choose better. Buying fewer clothes that are well-made with reliable materials is certainly more eco-friendly than buying lower-quality items that will need to be replaced after a few outings. Focus on some wardrobe staples that will see you through multiple seasons, and don’t be afraid to spend a little more than you used to on lower-quality, trend-focused items. It’s all about shopping with longevity and quality in mind, which is something that lies at the heart of Colville Leather.
In a ‘throw-away society’ where many items are replaced rather than repaired, we’re committed to making leather accessories that will last a lifetime, that will grow old with their owners and tell years of tales with their unique patinas. All of our products are designed with durability in mind. We believe that creating quality, reliable products that can serve as loyal accessories for years to come is the key to ensuring sustainability in the long run.
3. Give your wardrobe some TLC
Building a more sustainable fashion industry relies on people changing the way they think about their clothes. By being more considerate of care instructions and adopting a much more conscientious approach to our clothing, we can make our clothes last a lot longer and help reduce the carbon footprint of our wardrobe.
A handy tip to remember on your quest for an ethical wardrobe is to invest in some good quality hangers. Ever been left with a saggy shirt or droopy jumper? A lot of plastic and wire hangers will stretch out the shoulders of your tops, leaving you with rather sad-looking clothing. Although you may have to part with a few more pennies, wooden hangers will take much better care of your clothes.
Another top care tip is to wash all of your dark pieces of clothing inside out, which preserves their colour and stops them from fading. You can also prevent the print on t-shirts from cracking by following this handy bit of advice.
And it’s not just our clothes we need to look after when we’re building an ethical wardrobe. Here at Colville Leather, we’re embracing an ethos of sustainability by encouraging our customers to give their leather products the care and respect they deserve. Your leather belt or leather wallet has been lovingly handcrafted to last – it’s a very special addition to your ethical wardrobe that’s sure to endure whilst fashion fads come and go. It’s therefore important to look after it properly and follow the care instructions provided. Check out our recent blog post for helpful tips on how to care for a leather belt.
4. Practice mindful laundering
Did you know that the laundry process is where our clothing impacts the environment most?
Take a polyester blouse, for example – washing and tumble drying this uses around six times more energy than was needed to produce the garment in the first place. Staggeringly, laundry is responsible for around 25% of the carbon footprint of clothing, mainly because we tend to over-wash and under-load. By simply washing clothes less often, at a lower temperature, and in large loads, this rather sizeable footprint could be cut by 7%. The idea of washing clothes less frequently may cause alarm bells to ring for some people, but some items can just be hung out to air overnight, leaving them perfectly fresh in the morning. Unless something is visibly dirty or burdened with an unpleasant odour, aim to wear it at least three times before it’s thrown in your laundry basket.
And when it comes to dry cleaning, this process involves the use of harsh chemicals that can harm both our clothes and the environment. Over-dry-cleaning a suit can cause it to wear out and fade long before its time, not to mention the huge carbon footprint it has. ‘What can I do as an alternative?’, we hear you cry. By simply hanging the item in the bathroom whilst your shower, the steam will refresh your clothing without the help of any nasty chemicals.
5. Know your stuff
Now that you’ve decided to start building an ethical wardrobe, it’s a good idea to start asking questions about where your clothes and accessories actually come from. How were they made? Who made them? And in what conditions? Researching the source of your wardrobe is important. Look for companies who are driven by ethical fashion when shopping around for new items. Are they open about where their products are coming from? It comes back to that age-old saying: ‘knowledge is power’. With money in their wallets, consumers have the power to influence fashion brands and demand change.
We hope you’ll find these simple tips on how to build an ethical wardrobe useful. By simply looking after your clothes and investing in fewer, better quality items, you’ll be an important part of the drive towards a more ethical clothing industry. One ethical wardrobe at a time, we can make a difference.
If you share Colville Leather’s passion for ‘slow fashion’ and have any tips on how to build an ethical wardrobe, we’d love to hear them - please share them on social media and help us spread the word about ethical fashion.