With the UN’s Annual Climate Summit; COP27 in its final days, it seems as though the fashion industry may finally be ready to take some accountability for it’s impact. However, words are all well and good when each and every year brands make statements and grand gestures aiming to curb their fossil fuel emissions and lower their carbon footprint. With large fast fashion conglomerates vowing to mitigate their impact by buying half a million tonnes of low-carbon alternative fibres and paper packaging change seeming to (hopefully) be on the horizon, we may finally be facing the beginning of the end of fashion’s detrimental effects. However, overconsumption (all guilty say ‘aye’) is a major cause and with social media and apps like TikTok creating micro trends and speeding up the trend cycles by ten-fold, as fashion fanatics, we all have a part to play in lowering our own footprints.
That’s why we’ve created a guide for you to have a look at whenever you’re tempted to succumb to the next trend plaguing our FYP’s and bank balances. In light of COP27 here’s CULTED’s Guide on how to cut down on your emissions, and save the planet while saving your clothes.
YES IT STARTED OFF AS SATIRE; BUT UNLEASH YOUR INNER FIT STUDENT
Remember that TikTok trend where FIT students in New York would style their clothes in the most obscure and abstract ways, well maybe they were onto something? It’s so easy to get bored of the clothes in our wardrobe but why not have fun with it? Instead of getting a new fitted black mini skirt, turn the tank top in your closet into a skirt, or my favourite, cut the straps off of your favourite maxi dress and feed into the 90’s ultra maxi skirt trend. Why not clip your necklace onto your waist as a makeshift belt? Clothing is so much for fun when you wear it in unconventional ways and you get extra bragging rights!
SPENDING A LITTLE MORE = BUYING A LITTLE LESS
Fashion’s often pretentious and ridiculous prices have been the topic of one too many debates (£200 for a belt… a moment of silence), and of course the issue of classism in the fast fashion debacle. We’ll be the first ones to raise our hands and admit it. Who are we to say who does and doesn’t deserve to look nice just because they can’t afford to spend the equivalent of the price of their groceries for the week ten times over just to shop at more sustainable brands.
However, the issue with overconsumption is that clothing is cheap (because the labour is too) and so we can buy more of it. Perhaps the aim should be to buy three amazingly soft basic tees over seven kinds of awkward baby tees with really weird and niche phrases and prints, and while doing so supporting brands that are trying to implement more sustainable practices. Yes, they cost more but the cost per wear breakdown of these items paired with the environmental and social impact compared to brands like Shein is more worth it in the long run. That way there’s more of an incentive to take care of the pieces you own. Why don’t we treat clothes like a collection?
COLLECT CLOTHES LIKE KIDS COLLECT CARDS
Following on from the former point… one of life’s many joys that hopefully many of us have experienced is finally getting gifted the precious hand-me-downs from our parents or older siblings after spending years nicking them for the most depraved and sleazy nights out.
With the way the industry is built however, we really doubt that your future children or family members will want that one bandeau dress from PLT or Shein white button down. Buying clothes with purpose may just make you stop and think before gifting these sites your credit card details. Build a collection of clothes that make you excited to open your wardrobe and stare at your archive for hours.
FIND SOMEONE THAT’S TAILORED TO YOU NEEDS
Who needs Tinder when you have a tailor. Someone that will actually take care of you and your possessions and will only add to your life. A good tailor/seamstress can make all the difference in our lives. Once you get to know a tailor someone that you trust with your clothes (which are in fact an extension of your life), you’ll soon find that you don’t need to get rid of your favourite Levi’s just because they have a crotch hole.
Yes this is a bit pricey sometimes but the marginal benefit to the planet, the small family owned-tailoring business down the road and the sentimental value of your clothes justifies the price. The same goes for shoes! Don’t hesitate to buy those vintage boots for fear of the soles suddenly collapsing and turning to dust. There’s an abundance of cobblers hidden around or online. Suddenly your clothes will fit better, the sun will shine brighter and all of your problems will be fixed.
MORE UNI SWAP SHOPS!!!
Uni’s and Colleges far and wide all have one thing in common… a Fashion Club or Society (depending on where your from), and they most definitely host one or two swap shops a year. The most sustainable place to shop (aside from your own wardrobe) is in your friend’s wardrobe and so why not organise an event where you and your friends dig through each other’s stuff before your next big night out. Nothing feels better than wearing a new outfit that you didn’t have to pay to rent and you already know looks amazing.
An added bonus is getting rid of old clothes clogging up space and knowing that they’re in a better place and loved dearly.
FYI – JUST BECAUSE IT’S VINTAGE DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT OVER CONSUMING
One problem that the fashion industry has observed is people making the switch to vintage fashion (a win) but then buying even more than they would if they shopped fast fashion (not so much of a win). People’s propensities to consume seem to increase with vintage and second-hand, because it’s ‘better for the environment’. Unfortunately, you’re not doing the planet any favours.
Overconsumption is bad, whether it’s fast fashion or from Vestiaire, Depop or Vinted and while it’s marginally better, at the end of the day the only way to curb the climate crisis is by just buying less. Let’s make an official statement that re-wearing shame is out and buying less is most definitely in!
More on CULTED
See also: COPING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE WITH COP27: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
See also: THE SWEDISH FASHION COUNCIL IS PUTTING THE CLIMATE FIRST