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It’s a sustainable fashion revolution

We are addicted to cheap and disposable fashion – a habit that has been difficult to break. Designer Bozena Jankowska has tips on how we can reuse, recycle and reinvigorate our wardrobes.

retro dressed woman texting

Sustainable fashion is a movement advocating changes to fashion products and working practices to bring greater ecological integrity and social justice to the industry.

The saying “out of sight out of mind” is appropriate where the fashion industry is concerned. Why you ask? Remember the Rana Plaza disaster?  Seven years ago, on April 24th a garment factory in Bangladesh making clothes for the Western market collapsed, killing 1,100 people.  Many of those people were young women, being paid low wages and working in dangerous conditions so that we, could buy a t-shirt for £2.  Eight years on, what has changed? Have we learned any lessons?  Are we buying differently, more consciously?  Are we thinking what is behind the label? 

Sustainable vs sweatshop fashion

Well let’s look at what we are currently seeing. It seems that we have ‘put out of mind’ what happened with Rana Plaza and brands continue to churn out cheap fashion made under questionable labour and environmental standards that we are happy to buy. That is why every year on 24th April, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, Fashion Revolution Week takes place encouraging brands and consumers to think more carefully about their clothes. Where they come from, how they were made and by whom. Still, the truth is we are still addicted to cheap and disposable fashion a habit that will be exceedingly difficult to break. But, it’s a habit that must be broken as it has implications for the near and long term sustainability of our planet and future generations. So, what can we as individuals do to make a difference? 

Buying less but better quality support sustainable fashion
Buying less but better quality products can help reduce wastage

Buy less and buy well

Quality over quantity. Everyone has a different budget to work with but where possible focus on spending as much as you can afford on a quality garment. It makes all the difference in how it wears, how long it lasts and how it makes you feel when you wear it.  It will make you think more carefully whether you really need it, how it will fit with what is in your current wardrobe and whether you will get the wear out of it.  Start off by building a capsule wardrobe made up of five to six timeless pieces that become your go to and which you can easily mix and match to create a fresh look each time. Aim for modern, timeless and ageless pieces. What might those five be?  A great fitting blazer, a good fitting pair of trousers or jeans, a white classic silk blouse, an overcoat such as a trench or a safari jacket and a sharp yet feminine dress – forget about the frills and ruffles, especially during the summer months, they can make you look old.

Vintage clothes shops support sustainable fashion
Vintage clothes shops support sustainable fashion

Vintage as a sustainable fashion choice

Mixing old with new(er) is another great way to get that pulled together considered look.  Vintage fashion can be amazing when you find the right pieces that work for you – it brings something different and unique to your look. However, make sure to keep things simple, look for clean lines and make one garment your statement piece. Vintage fashion fairs are great places to browse. With lockdown easing vintage fair events are now being scheduled for later in the year. 

Pop Up Vintage Fairs London

The Vintage Network – Vintage Fairs (vintage-network.co.uk)

Renting for those special occasions

Special occasions are special for a reason because they do not happen that often.  Be it a wedding, a milestone birthday bash or a red carpet event or a summer garden party, splashing out on a special outfit which you may only end up wearing one can be expensive.  Renting is a great option.  It gives you access to designer fashion at a fraction of the cost.  MyWardrobe HQ and Hurr Collective are a great place to start.    

pre owned fashion being boxed
Buying pre-owned garments is a great way to get high end brands at rock bottom prices

Love preloved

If you are keen to get your hands on a designer piece or accessory but the budget may not allow it, then think about looking at preloved designer. It’s another great way to mix and match your old and new to get that effortless pulled together look.  There are a number of websites that enable you to search for the top designer brands selling preloved fashion and accessories all of which have been vetted by professionals to ensure authenticity and condition.  Equally if you have designer pieces in your wardrobe which you no longer wear are in great condition and you want to get rid of, you can use the same websites to sell them. When buying online think about simplicity, clean, classic lines and ageless pieces.

Luxury resale store, find pre-owned fashion on Vestiaire Collective

Charity Shops

Charity shops are another option when considering sustainable fashion choices and can be an Aladdin’s cave where you can snap up both vintage treasures and designer pieces. Sometimes, you can find incredible pieces for little more than you’d spend on a lunchtime trip to Pret a Manger. You might have to travel to find the best spots, and have enough patience to devote time to rifling through the rails, it will all be worth it.  The added bonus of course is that shopping in a charity shop means your every purchase supports a good cause.  Here is a short run down of some of the best locations for designer charity shop finds:

London

Mary’s Living & Giving Shop For Save The Children, Regent’s Park Road

Oxfam, Westbourne Grove and Marylebone High Street

Bristol

Mary’s Living & Giving Shop For Save The Children, Regent Street

Gloucester Road, Bristol

Bath

Dorothy House Shops, Bridge Street

Brighton

Friends Shop, St James’s Street

Bozena writes a monthly column for 50connect, for more content like this visit our fashion and beauty channel.

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 10:49 pm Fashion & Beauty