The conflict between sustainability and ethical fashion

The conflict between sustainability and ethical fashion

Every time we cycle around to a new season in the fashion calendar, I go through a phase of existential crisis. If we’re trying to minimize our contribution to climate change, to minimize fashion waste and create a more conscious production cycle, then why would I share brands and new garments with you? Why should I continue to make partnerships a part of what I do, when I could focus exclusively on helping everyone live their best lives through secondhand?

These are questions that roll around in my brain every day. And I’ll admit, I still don’t have the answer to them. I love learning about small but mighty women-owned brands than are committing to doing things right. I’m highly creative and I get no better fuel than seeing something come to life from a sheet of fabric. But at the same time, we can be creative with things that already exist. Brands increasingly are using deadstock fabric (waste fabric from the fashion industry), or upcycling vintage garments. Let’s just say that—there’s a lot happening, and each brand is chipping away at a different corner of what it means to be conscious.

Woman's torso, sitting on a bed and wearing a plain t-shirt with gold rings and necklace

When I look at who I partner with, I consider a few things:

  1. Are they making strides towards sustainability? This could involve using deadstock fabric, reducing water use, using natural dyes, small-batch production, or made-to-order models.
  2. Is their supply chain conscious? Are they paying everyone a fair wage, and ensuring a safe environment?
  3. Are they taking intentional, earnest steps to inclusivity? This is the hardest criteria to meet for most brands. I’m talking size, race, gender, everything. If a brand is not actively taking steps towards this and infusing it into their ethos, they’re not the right partner. I haven’t gotten this right every time, and I still have so much work to do in strongly voicing the need for change with partners who don’t meet these requirements.

I like to think of my style as a mix of old and new. I find what I can by thrifting, and supplement with a piece I’ve thought intentionally about—a piece that I could see in my wardrobe at least 10 to 15 years from now. If I don’t think I’d keep it around that long, I don’t welcome it into my life any more.

A hand wearing gold rings, resting on a lap wearing white pants

When I share a partner or a garment with you, there are a few reasons why I’m doing it:

  1. I genuinely connect with the person or maker behind the brand
  2. I’ve been a long-time fan or customer
  3. I’m doing the research for you! J I want to make sure that if you’re looking for a conscious piece in the future, it’s here for you! Doesn’t have to be “right now,” but “bookmark for if I ever do”
  4. It’s so fun to hear the background and stories—I’m someone who thrives on learning the behind-the-scenes and want to share these perspectives with you so we can more deeply understand the context behind prices and a slower mindset

I’d like to find a way to continue sharing partners without the “urgency,” to allow us all to approach decision-making with a level head! When we think something’s scarce, all logic flies out the window and we immediately want to get it. But what I’m working on is a way to help you get discounts when you need them and are truly ready to purchase—not when you don’t need it 😉

Anyway, I don’t have a nice, round little finish here for you, but if you’ve read this far, I appreciate your company! My hope is that together, we can continue to find joy in the garments we own, wear them to the end of their useful lives, buy secondhand first, and treat ourselves to a special ethical item when the opportunity comes by. I’d love to hear your thoughts! As always, feel free to share yours below <3

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