When Ethical Shopping Becomes Trendy || How To Build A Closet Of Timeless Essentials
We live in a world of trends. Although it hasn't always been this way, in the Modern era, we've come to believe that clothes are dispoable and that fashion changes quickly. With the womenswear industry unbelievably valued at more than 621 billion dollars (source), it's no wonder that the fast (literally, very fast) fashion industry strives to keep consumers coming back for more.
At least once a week, to be exact.
Fashion used to operate on a common-sense Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter continuum, but now, most major brands operate within 52 "micro-seasons". Conveniently, one for each week of the year, designed to make you always feel off-trend and like your closet is lacking something. Until, you walk into the mall and pick up that brand new cropped sweater or pair of pants that will finally fill the gap.
Until next week, at least.
Luckily, there are brands out there who aren't trying to manipulate your style and wallet or make you feel a constant urge to buy more. There are slow fashion brands who create seasonal, or even seasonless, pieces designed with classic cuts and timeless silhouettes in mind. You can refer to my List for many of these brands. Rest assured that I try my best to showcase brands who rely on timeless styles and not current trends as their backbone.
The trouble is that not every ethical brand fights against becoming too "trendy". There are brands and influencers out there that make shopping ethically just another trend to be followed. And, of course, that's not totally a bad thing. Trends bring traction to a movement, making it desirable and "cool", and when it comes to choosing clothes that are made fairly over those made by sweatshop workers or people without proper payment or benefits, anything helps.
But what happens when it goes out of style? When ethical shopping isn't cool or accessible or easy?
Then we will revert to our "norm" of buying what's convenient and quickly made. Of choosing fast over slow.
It's a bit dangerous, I think, to view ethical shopping as a trend to be followed. Even with perfectly curated social media feeds and influencers who look like they're showcasing the latest trends, focusing on choosing classics over trends will ensure that your closet doesn't feel like it's out of style after a few months of not shopping.
Here are a few ways to avoid turning ethical fashion into another trend to be followed:
1. Change your mindset before you change your closet
Choosing to buy primarily ethically made fashion (for a great definition of these terms, watch this video from my friend Natalie of Sustainably Chic) is a counter-cultural choice, not a trend to be followed. It's important that you don't "jump" into the decision to quit fast fashion haphazardly or because there is a certain "elitism" of shopping ethically (that's a post for another day, though. Here's what Hannah of Life+Style+Justice had to say about it).
Shopping ethically takes more time, research, and thought than simply hopping on H&M's website and buying a pair of leggings. You've got to ask who made your pieces, where they were made, what the people making them were compensated for their work, what the cost to the environment is to produce the peice, and more. Luckily, there are people like me who obsess over finding out these sometimes hard to find details from brands. Use my List as a quick resource, if you're not sure where to begin.
2. Think about time, age, cut and fabric before you buy
Ethically made pieces should be more expensive. But that means that you probably won't be able to shop mindlessly or even as often as you're used to. And that's ok. When you do decide to buy something new, you'll want to ensure that it lasts you years instead of weeks. Think through the amount of times you envision yourself wearing the piece, if the piece will fit your style as you get older and not just for a year or two, if the cut and fabric can transition from season to season or at least from year to year.
It's a lot to consider for a simple piece of clothing, but trust me, once you're 100% certain about questions like these, you'll have a piece in your closet that will last you so much longer than an impulse buy.
3. Shop with a purpose
Remember your values before you buy. Do your research.
And then, find "staple" pieces. White tee-shirts, sweaters with flattering shapes and high quality materials, button-up shirts that are as versatile as they are beautiful, pants that fit you well and are well made.
4. Ask for help
When you get overwhelmed, ask for help. The very reason I created this little corner of the internet was to help real people connect to real ethical fashion brands (a concept that I didn't even know existed until a few years ago). It's my (and almost every other blogger I know) passion to help you find pieces that are high quality, ethically made, and perfect for you. Don't be afraid to email brands directly, read through their website, or dig a little bit deeper than you normally would.
One of my biggest fears for the slow fashion movement is that it will become another trend that passes as interests and styles change, but with conscious consumers who are informed and know better, shopping ethically will become an ever-growing lifestyle change and call to action.