According to World Resources Institute, fast fashion has dramatically changed fashion cycles from just 2 seasons a year, to anywhere from 50 to 100 micro-seasons. To understand the horrifying environmental and social impacts this has on our planet, check out this recent article in Forbes Magazine. Otherwise, it’s time to debunk some common misconceptions that stand in the way of well-meaning people investing in socially and environmentally responsible fashion.
MYTH #1: CONSCIOUS FASHION IS MORE EXPENSIVE
Fact: The timeless and lasting qualities of conscious fashion permit you to shop less often, allowing you to save money in the long-run
When you buy conscious fashion, you are paying to ensure workers are treated well, and environmental standards are being met before and after production (ie. through regular factory audits and inspections). Conscious fashion designers and garment workers collaborate to make items that can be worn in every season, and made to last a long time. But you shouldn’t feel like you need to shell out a pay cheque to support a conscious brand. Many brands provide ethically made products at competitive prices.
To start, take a gander at these blogs that have also done the budget hunting for you:
MYTH #2 : THE CONSCIOUS FASHION INDUSTRY IS ONLY RELEVANT FOR WOMEN
Fact: The conscious fashion industry is relevant for men, women, children, and even your dog
It is true that if you look around the slow fashion industry, you will predominantly find female bloggers, female designers, female CEOs, female thinkers and doers left and right (go ladies!) but that doesn’t mean women are the only consumers called to be conscious. Men, you have no good excuse, there are tons of great conscious brands out there designed specifically for you.
Selflessly Styled, a conscious fashion blog, has graciously done some of the work for you. Check out their list of conscious brands for her, for him and for kids. And yes, there are even conscious brands for your dog.
MYTH #3 : CONSCIOUS FASHION IS FOR HIPPIES
Fact: Conscious fashion comes in every style imaginable
Sure, conscious consumers happen to care more about the environment and it’s possible to find some great tie-dye prints, but that’s an inaccurate portrayal of the industry. Just like the fast fashion industry, you can find ethically made clothes as suit jackets, cocktail dresses and sweatpants (with peace and love in every stitch, of course).
MYTH #4: BUYING SLOW FASHION WON’T ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF I’M THE ONLY PERSON I KNOW DOING IT
Fact: Every step away from fast fashion is a step toward something better
According to sociologists, even the most isolated individual will influence 10,000 other people during his or her lifetime. Dare to care and you’ll be impressed by how many people will follow your lead.
MYTH #5: THE BEST WAY TO CHANGE THE INDUSTRY IS TO BUY SLOW FASHION ITEMS MADE CONSCIOUSLY
Fact: There are plenty of other ways you can make an impact
Consider swapping clothing, thrift shopping or making a capsule closet. Consider donating the money you’d spend on conscious brands, and donating it to organizations working to stop deforestation or toxic chemical runoff into rivers.
MYTH #6: BIG FASHION RETAILERS AREN’T THAT BIG OF A PROBLEM
Fact: Big fashion retailers like H&M, Forever 21, Uniqlo and Zara are the eye of the fast fashion storm
These examples of big name businesses are feeding your fast fashion obsession by brainwashing you to think your closet is out of style, so you need to buy more at their ‘discounted’ prices. Not to mention their clothes are designed to fall apart, making you crawl back for more, often. You know what to do. Boycott!
While we’re debunking myths, there’s one we need a little help with.
The myth that the conscious fashion industry fails to represent people of colour.
The conscious fashion industry is still dominantly influenced by the narrative of white designers and business owners, which employ POC, even though the very people the industry serves to protect are POC. However, POC designers do exist and they’re killin it!
Shobha Philips, founder of Proclaim fashion, recommends Melanin and Sustainable Style, a style blog by Dominique Drakeford that features ethical brands by POC. Check out Shobha’s own clothing brand, Proclaim. And then check out Girlfriend Collective (remember the free leggings on Facebook?)
Do you have any favourite conscious fashion brands by people of colour to share? Comment below and let us know.
Sarah is a lover of photosynthesizing beings and all things outdoors. She started her blog when she realized that people haven’t been making personal changes to improve the environment, because the information available is overwhelming and doesn’t feel relevant to most people in her life. It is a call to action to all of us to take responsibility for our actions, visit her blog to find out how you can make your life and future travels more eco-friendly. There’s something for everyone.