5 Ways to be a Kick Ass Ethical Fashion Newbie
Are you new to the whole ethical/slow fashion movement? Yay! Welcome! You are incredible for wanting to find out more and be a more conscious citizen of this world. Every purchase you make is a vote for the kind of world you want to create. We believe that all the way. That is why ethical fashion and being a kind consumer is so important to us. But we know that it can be intimidating and time-consuming, so we wanted to give you just a simple outline on how to start this ethical clothing journey. You can be bad ass right out of the gate. And you don’t need to torch all of your clothes, and you don’t have to go buy that $300 pair of pants right this second. This is a gradual change for most people, and that’s okay. Just pick a place to start, and go from there, knowing that you are making a massive difference in the quality of so many people's lives. You are a catalyst for change, and you are amazing for being here.
1. TAKE CARE OF THE CLOTHES YOU ALREADY HAVE. I am someone who literally loves to burn bridges. Okay, not literally, but you know what I mean. So, when I first started my journey of buying ethically-made clothing, the thought of just torching my entire closet and starting from scratch was SO appealing. Thankfully, I didn’t do that. Something to think about: when we throw things “away,” there really is no “away” for most of those clothes because of the materials that they are made from. They don’t decompose naturally. “Away” means going to a landfill somewhere most likely. Now, calm down. Don’t freak out on me. I only mention this because it hopefully will help you to pause before you throw something out and think “can I make this function for my life right now?” Let’s be resourceful. Could you get it hemmed or cut those sleeves off or use that fabric to make curtains or send it off to get dyed a different color? There are so many possibilities to consider in making the clothes you already own work for you and be stylish and relevant.
2. BUY SECOND HAND AND VINTAGE. Are vintage stores anyone else’s heaven?? No? Just me? Okay. I love the weird smells and the feeling of being on a treasure hunt. Thrifting is a creative process for me, and I love the challenge of seeing what I could possibly make work. Thrift the hell out of your wardrobe, keeping in mind that anything that you really like but isn’t perfect, you can always take to your amazing tailor. And here’s the thing: you will probably be THE ONLY PERSON wearing that piece of clothing, so it helps to elevate your wardrobe, make it more unique, and helps you to be able to express yourself in a fun way.
3. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL TAILOR. Seriously. This kind of goes with #1 and #2, but it deserves its own space. This has been a game-changer for me in my desire to be an ethical consumer. Finding a tailor that understands you and your heart for the clothes you have opens up an incredible door. All of a sudden, you look at the clothes you have with possibility. “I wonder what Aaron could do with this…?” It helps you realize which clothes you actually love enough that you want to invest money into to get altered, and which clothes you are ready to give to someone else. Also, finding a tailor that has a creative eye is amazing, because it’s like the ultimate collaboration. I love taking a piece into him and just watching the creative process happen right before my eyes. He takes clothes from “yeah, okay” to “damn, this was made for me.” Celebrate the makers and support those local businesses that make your town great. (P.S. If you're in Nashville, look no further than Only One Tailoring. Aaron is incredible, and his whole team are so excellent at what they do. Tell him Jo sent you!)
4. HOST A "SWAP PARTY.” This is F-U-N. This is even better than just dropping your clothes off in a trash bag at the local Goodwill. This is the combination of clothes + community. Is there anything better?! Oh man, not to me. Everyone brings either some food or a bottle of vino and the clothes they are looking to swap out. This is especially great for people who have a hard time getting rid of things and clearing out space in their closets. Why? Because it’s a party. AND you get to see where your clothes are going, so you know that their story will continue; it makes it a little easier to let go. That and the wine, both helpful.
5. SHOP LESS AND WITH INTENTION. Choose ethically-made and high quality garments. A brand’s website should say on it where/how their clothing is made; but if it doesn’t, just send them a little email and ask. If they have nothing to hide, they will be happy to share where they get their fabrics and how their workers are cared for. If you don’t hear anything back or if they give you a roundabout answer, there is a good chance that they are not taking care of the makers that are involved in making that shirt that you really like. People are more important than clothes, yes? People first. Let’s support that type of world. As for me: I love LOVE doing research on ethically-made brands, so I always have a running list of items that I would like to purchase. I keep these in a folder on my phone and go through them every few months or so, keeping the ones that still spark joy inside of me and deleting the ones that don’t anymore. This helps me to not compulsively buy anything, and it helps me to save up for one or two items at a time that I know will last for years to come, that I will be able to wear in various ways and in various seasons, and that I still really want to buy even after 6+ months of waiting.
It makes me endlessly happy that this slow fashion movement is picking up and that there really are so many wonderful brands that are doing things differently now and taking care of every person involved in the process of making a single garment. A world where people are supporting each other, celebrating everyone’s skills—that’s a world I want to live in. Thank you so much for even being here. Just you reading this gives us hope for the world that we are creating.
Here’s to creating community and change, through your wardrobe.
And here’s to looking damn good while doing it.