Sometimes when you think of switching towards sustainable fashion, it can feel overwhelming as to where to start. While one of the most obvious ways to keep your fashion sustainable is to maintain what you own, and consider to recycle, repair, and alter your existing clothes, unfortunately, sometimes you just need a handful of new t-shirts and a fresh pair of jeans. Even with high-quality sustainable clothing, things are likely to still wear out over long periods of time.
So, how do you go about finding online brands that are sustainable, and what are red flags to avoid?
Red flag: cheap prices
The reason that fast fashion is so affordable is that it isn’t sustainable. If a price seems too good to be true, it unfortunately likely is. When you sit down and think about it, garments that are priced as fast fashion reflect the reality that someone down the manufacturing line is not being rewarded for the work that they are doing.
That doesn’t automatically mean that each item you buy has to cost an arm and a leg, but it does mean you need to be honest with yourself about whether a price seems too good to be true. Sustainability in fashion can not be simply looked at from an environmental perspective only but needs to take in the socio-economic repercussions of sustainability as well.
Since you can’t feel how high-quality a product is when you are shopping online, you have to take into consideration the details provided online. Look for natural fibers, which tend to be more environmentally sustainable. Avoid things like polyester that are considered incredibly harmful to the environment. However, you can aim to use “recycled polyester” in your fabric choices. Recycled polyester uses approximately 50% less energy to be created than virgin polyester, and uses old plastic bottles that are turned into a form of yarn which is made into fashion garments.
Natural fibers are often more ecologically sustainable than other options, especially items such as hemp and linen. Natural fibers are biodegradable so they won’t have such a negative impact if or when the item is discarded or eventually wears out.
Take your time looking over websites, and make sure when you are purchasing an item that it states directly the type of fabric that is being used, and avoid things like nylon or typical polyester.
Made in the UK
When you’re searching for great options online, look for fashion brands that are produced and manufactured in the UK or European countries. Local manufacturing means there is less environmental impact from shipping. Additionally, the UK has stricter manufacturing regulations on fashion than other less sustainable companies based outside of Europe.
When in doubt, avoid clothing that is manufactured in Asia, Africa, and Latin America since they often are countries that employ children and do not have a good working environment for their employees, forcing them to work long hours, often without adequate pay.
Other countries that typically have good work environments are Canada and the USA, so you can look for those as potential good signs when you are looking for sustainable fashion from outside the UK.