There are many aspects to sustainable fashion; some practices involve materials, manufacturers, companies, and other material focuses. However, sustainable shopping itself often has less to do with the item, and more to do with your own behavior towards it. Today I'd like to share some tips on how to integrate sustainability into your shopping habits.
While shopping, I like to ask myself questions such as: Will I want to repair this item when it breaks? Will this item suit my lifestyle? Are there other pieces I own already that I would choose to wear instead of this piece? Using these guiding questions can direct me towards garments that I will wear and love for seasons to come.
Anything new we buy requires resources like materials, time, labor to create it. This is necessary for the production process, even with eco-conscious brands. However, many sustainable brands, such as Lights of All, produce garments that are made to last, ethically sourced and produced. These garments are meant to be taken care of and repaired when necessary to prolong the garmentʼs lifespan. I like to look at any garment that I am considering purchasing and ask: Would I want to repair it when the time comes? Or would I want to replace it? For example, If Iʼm shopping for a pair of shoes, I ask myself if I truly love these shoes enough to get them repaired or re-soled down the line. This way of thinking has reduced my consumption to leave only what I know I will use and love!
Speaking of repairs, a side-effect of consuming mindfully is that you care better for your belongings. When I enjoy and truly value my garments, I will make any repairs that will let me continue to use them. I see them as close friends that have lived through different experiences with me, making them more valuable the longer I have had them.
Exploring the role a new garment will play in your life could give you a better sense of what you will use. This means youʼre less apt to buy items that donʼt fit within your lifestyle. Sometimes I find myself making up imaginary scenarios for myself when shopping. If Iʼm looking at some shiny heeled platform boots, I may imagine a setting where these shoes would be perfect. In the past, my vivid imagination could definitely sway me to buy something that I end up not using. I have to remind myself to be realistic about my lifestyle and the places I go in an average week. This way of thinking can determine if the item I am considering will be worn and loved, or relegated to the back of my closet.
Be picky! Explore your own style and observe other peopleʼs styles and trends, without necessarily participating in all of them. It can be difficult to close yourself off from all fashion trend mania or marketing. Sustainable shopping leads us to understand what we truly like and wear, so we can look at the current fashion landscape with objectivity.
Hereʼs a trick I use:
I imagine that Iʼm a no-nonsense judge on a fashion design competition show. However, instead of looking for the next great fashion designer, I am looking for well-made slow fashion garments that will suit my commuter lifestyle. When I know what types of clothing my lifestyle requires, It is easy to rule out anything that doesnʼt fall within it.
Olivia August is an intern at Lights of All, as well as a Fashion Student at Toronto Metropolitan University. She is passionate about sustainable fashion and is always looking ways to implement conscious living into her everyday life.