5 Commandments of Style and Sustainability

What is sustainability in fashion?

We hear the word “sustainability” so often that it has been elevated to buzzword status. But unlike so much of the jargon we hear everyday, sustainability isn't just another marketing ploy.

In truth, the rise of sustainable thinking is rooted in the growing awareness of the drastic repercussions the fashion industry has on the environment and people. This means that the path to conscious consumption starts with one’s wardrobe. Of course, this doesn’t mean limiting yourself to the same t-shirts and jeans forever, nor should you have to sacrifice your sense of style. A sustainable wardrobe can be achieved with mindful shopping and a slight shift in your perspective. With that in mind, here are 5 commandments of style and sustainability that you can live by.

Buy with intention.

Impulse buying is the bane of your budget and the environment. The last thing you want is to fall prey to trendy branding, so approach your purchases with long-term goals in mind. Such is the philosophy behind cultural phenomena like the KonMari method. This decluttering routine entails asking yourself “does this spark joy?” when deciding to discard or keep an item. Similarly, think about why you’re buying those shoes: Is it because you genuinely love them or because you saw them in a magazine? An honest answer should guide you towards good purchases.

Prioritize quality over quantity.

The capsule wardrobe isn’t for everyone, but those who abide by it make a fair point. The Washington Post underlines its many benefits, like reducing the amount of time you spend organizing your closet and deciding what to wear. That gives you more time to spend on things that truly matter — the foundation of slow living. From an economical standpoint, it’s more worth it to invest in quality pieces that will last you for years, instead of cheap items that cannot outlast seasons or worse, just a few uses. 

Mend your own clothes. 

Give your clothes a second life by fixing them up on your own or turning them into something useful. Unless they’re completely beyond repair, Pretty Me's feature on sustainability suggests turning them into an upcycling project. Not only does this save money, but you also add an invaluable charm and personal touch to your own clothes. So the next time your favorite pants tear open, don’t throw them away. Sew them back together, or put a patch on them for something different. 

Only support brands you trust.

When you spend your money on something, you cast a vote for the kind of products you want to keep seeing. It’s difficult to believe in wallet activism when looking at the fashion industry’s entirety. After all, what difference does a $20 dress make compared to the millions’ worth already in landfills? The answer: a lot. 

Fast Company highlights recent boycotts that have been mounted against transgressor brands — from Ivanka Trump’s namesake label, to H&M and Forever 21. The numbers don’t lie: sales are plummeting and companies are being forced to listen. When you go shopping again, think about what you’re supporting and ensure you’re not financing unethical wages or practices.

Say no to Fast Fashion.

Previously, we talked about how today’s consumers are sucked into the trap of Fast Fashion. We're wary of chemicals and junk that goes inside our bodies, without realizing that what we put on them matters just as much. Fast Fashion breeds a toxic mindset that is never content with what you have, trapping us in the hamster wheel of chasing trend after trend.

Thankfully, more brands nowadays are taking a more progressive stance, producing clothes with long-term impact in mind. Even the upper echelons of fashion aren’t exempt. “I don't think that 'eco' should be a word that immediately conjures up images of oatmeal-coloured garments or garments that are oversized or lacking in any sort of luxury or beauty or detailing or desirability,” shares luxury designer Stella McCartney. "You can't ask a consumer to compromise, [and say] 'Here is this jacket that looks terrible but it's organic, and here is a really beautiful jacket that's cheaper but don't buy it because it's not organic'." When collectively undertaken, this change in mindset can set us all on the path towards sustainable fashion and living.

Written by: Alyssa Conner for /www.artandsouldesignaustin.com