Happy 4th everyone, we hope everyone is taking this time off to relax!
Celebrating America during a holiday like this one means a lot of different things for different people today. Walking around town where stores are trying to sell us everything red, white and blue calling on any patriotic sentiment; and that juxtaposed with some of the more recent news and policies from the current administration making some of us feel well.. less patriotic. A couple of weeks ago Melania wore a certain Zara jacket that didn’t sit well with a lot of people because of the perceived message it sent. It was a very insensitive decision, and if there’s something to be learned from it on a more personal level, it shows the power that your fashion choices can have.
For better or for worse, image is a huge part of our world today and that’s not particularly new but with the inclusion of social media, your personal brand or a fashion company’s brand is valued and scrutinized. And more importantly we are increasingly holding individuals and brands accountable for the choices that they make, as well as campaign and products they release. As consumers now more than ever we have power in the fashion and retail industry, more so than most of us realize.
We have so many resources available to investigate the brands we shop in, and causes we choose to support with these brands. Think about it like this, your dollar is a vote and every time you make a purchase you’re telling a brand or telling the world this is what I care about and these are the causes I choose to support. By supporting a sustainable brand or conscious collection, you’re telling the supplier you want to see more of these kind of initiatives, and signaling that they should allocate more resources to these kind of initiatives. Without consumer buy-in, the fashion industry won’t be able to, or have the motivation to change. It doesn’t even have to be buying from a sustainable brand, because those brands are sometimes more expensive- it’s choosing the more sustainable option of buying from consignment or choosing not to shop at a company that abuses its workers or is openly insensitive in the media. Consuming less, and loving your wardrobe more- if you don’t like something sell it to a thrift store or look for sustainable initiatives you can give away clothes to. Having said all that it’s hard to make any drastic changes and see those changes making obvious differences but little changes in behavior can go a long way, and they are very doable. I have listed some really easy steps and cool brands with some great initiatives.
1. Shop thrift/consignment stores both online and offline.
There are so many options available both online and in brick-and-mortar stores so it’s really up to you to explore your communities and thus your options. ThredUp is one of the largest online consignment and thrift stores and really has a wide range of products at every single price point. Poshmark is a great app to both buy and sell used clothes online. Grailed for men and Heroine for women are greats consignments sites with popular streetwear and luxury brands for really cheap – you can find everything from Chanel purses to Yeezy sneakers for decent prices. The RealReal and Vesitaire Collective are some other leaders in authenticated luxury consignment products.
2. Shop brands that are transparent
There are a lot of brands out there starting to be transparent about how they treat they factory workers, and how they source their materials. Everlane is very transparent about their factories and why their clothes are priced the way they are; and Filippa K heavily scrutinizes their entire production process to make truly sustainable pieces.
Reformation is more trendy and they give a quarterly sustainability report and practice efficient and eco-friendly technology and factory practices, thinking about all areas of business and how they can be sustainable within that. Nau also makes minimalistic, casual clothing that’s environmentally friendly. Patagonia really has a love for nature and revised their supply chain to make sure product is safely and ethically produced and reduce environmental impact, they also have numerous worn-out clothes initiatives that you can learn more about on their page.
3. Support sustainable initiatives at some of your favorite brands
Purchasing environmentally friendly or empowering initiatives at some larger brands, signals to them that consumer care about these initiatives and sales allow them to invest more in similar programs. To name a few; Adidas’ Parley For The Oceans products feature apparel and footwear made with upcycled plastic waste and H&M’s Conscious Collection promotes the use of recycled materials and when you bring in old clothes, you get 15% off your next purchase. Remember there is power in you as an individual and consumer in the retail and fashion industry and in your purchase!