Wear and Why: Creating A Sustainable Wardrobe
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
Throughout my sustainability journey, I have really struggled with finding ethical and sustainable clothing brands that I love and that are affordable on a college student’s budget.
In the past, I would order multiple $10-$15 shirts from places like Forever 21 and H&M simply with the intention to wear it for ONE night out.
In the last year or so, I have realized how absolutely ridiculous that logic was and I looked into the impacts of the “fast fashion” trend on our environment.
Since then, I have greatly limited the amount of clothes I buy while also making the switch to only buy from sustainable and ethical brands.
I have really tried to switch to slow fashion, where I buy long-lasting, quality materials rather than cheap, low-quality pieces.
As a student, I know that some of these sustainable brands are not always affordable or feasible for everyone. With that, I also recommend thrifting clothes and/or buying secondhand!
I personally love to shop on ThreadUp or Depop, where it is easy to buy used or lightly worn clothes and make them your own! I am also always getting hand-me-downs from my cousins, which are clothes that would've gone to a landfill but instead are getting a new life in my home.
When I do invest in sustainable brands, the brands listed below are my very favorite:
I wish I had more resources and tips when I began this transition, so I thought this post would be helpful to many of you!
My very favorite sustainable brands:
1. Patagonia- living in Minnesota, I rely on Patagonia in the winters. From parkas to undergarments to their fleece pieces, I truly don’t think I could survive the cold without Patagonia! They were one of the first companies to start using recycled materials, organic cotton, and a focus on ethical labor.
-As a student and avid hiker/camper, I LOVE that Patagonia has an entire page of used gear and garments that are lightly worn and significantly discounted. If you haven’t seen this page, click here to check it out.
2. Everlane- I love Everlane for their basic pieces and transparency. They focus on ethical production practices and their website features product costs and where their goods are made to ensure their customers that they are buying an ethical product. I personally love minimalist and modern clothing, and these pieces have been my favorite:
Since writing this post, I have been corrected on Everlane's actual sustainability and after conducting my own research- I CANNOT recommend them as a sustainable brand.
-They lack in certification or evidence that they provide living wages.
-They lack information about how their items are sustainable (or more sustainable than other brands)
-They make little effort to use sustainable fabrics
-They have allegedly fired workers who attempt to unionize
3. Outdoor Voices- I love doing yoga almost every day and outdoor voices has amazing pieces for yoga, walking, hiking, grocery shopping and everything in between. I love their leggings/top sets that are made out of quality and long-lasting materials. They also focus on using recyclable materials for packaging and eliminating the use of conventional (and often unsustainable) practices
4. Whimsy + Row - I truly love the quality and simplicity of Whimsy + Row pieces. Their clothes are all made ethically and responsibly in Los Angeles and they use “deadstock” fabric, meaning they use fabric that otherwise would have gone to waste.
-I live in this top in the summer- so comfy and matches with so many outfits or bottoms
5. United by Blue- this brand makes clothing using sustainable fabrics (such as recycled polyester that comes from discarded water bottles). They also remove one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every single item sold- they’ve already removed 3.2 million pounds of trash!
-I have been obsessed with this brand for a while and here is my favorite piece from there
*Each piece of clothing on their site also has details about what the product is made out of! Such amazing work being done here!
6. Girlfriend Collective- this brand is truly amazing. They offer sustainable activewear in a variety of colors, sizes and styles. I personally love their skort and the Paloma bra (linked below)! Girlfriend Collective focuses on transparency, uses 100% recycled and recyclable packaging, and many of the clothing items are made of recycled materials-including plastic water bottles! Their clothes are made in a factory that has certification; guaranteeing fair wages, good conditions and no child labor.
For more information on sustainable/ethical fashion, I highly recommend these documentaries:
The True Cost- looks at the impact of the clothing industry on the environment and on humans
River Blue- reveals how much the fashion industry contributes to pollution
The Machinsts -details the lives of 3 garment workers in Bangladesh and their struggles and hardships
Sweatshop -shows the journey of 3 young Norwegian fashion consumers travelling to Cambodia to see how their cheap clothes are really made (and who is suffering by making them)
I hope this post helps you on your sustainability journey or at least makes you think about where your clothes are coming from, who makes them, and what their impact is.
I challenge you to try to buy less cheap, low-quality pieces and invest in some ethical, sustainable and high-quality pieces that will last you much longer and will make you feel better about the businesses you’re supporting.
Small changes make a big difference, so let's slow down these “fast fashion” trends.
No need to give up being a fashionista to be sustainable and ethical with all of the amazing brands we have today.