What is sustainable fashion?
There's slow fashion, ethical fashion, minimalist fashion, zero-waste fashion, sustainable fashion... you name it.
While we often label to simplify things, the reality is none of these categories have clear boundaries -- there's no one way to go about any of them, and many actually overlap in their goals and practices.
In brief, slow fashion honors the thoughtful, traditional fashion timeline as well as artisan-made, handcrafted goods; ethical fashion vies for safe conditions and fair pay to all workers in the supply chain, as well as the avoidance of leather, pelts, and animal fibers for ethical vegans; minimalist fashion champions timeless styles over trends and quality over quantity, often resorting to capsule wardrobes to reduce material consumption overall; zero-waste fashion prioritizes used, up-cycled, and recycled materials while minimizing waste in the production process;
and sustainable fashion, often seen as the end goal, promotes practices that 1) protect the welfare of all players in the game and 2) help to maintain healthy, balanced, and biodiverse ecosystems so we can all sustain and thrive into the future.
All of these, of course, are overly simplified definitions, because in truth, every term is highly complex with so much depth and breadth, also meaning different things to different people.
But it's okay for us to not have definite answers, and it's okay for fashion activists to not always agree -- so long as we each stay insatiable in our learning, strive to understand before being understood, and most importantly, capitalize on our common mission to make the world a better, healthier, more sustainable place.
"So what's 'Conscious Fashion,' then?" You ask.
Well, here's the definition of "conscious" as relevant to this context:
1. Marked by thought, will, design, or perception; 2. Acting with critical awareness.
We like to think of "Conscious Fashion" as the gateway or common first step to sustainable fashion.
Conscious fashion is an invitation for you to participate in any type of fashion acting as a vehicle for positive change, stressing critical thinking and thoughtful purchases while parting ways with the impulsiveness encouraged by fast fashion (think Zara churning out new products almost every single week).
Conscious Fashion focuses on:
1. Becoming aware of the histories and impacts of our fashion purchases (learning where something came from, what it needs to be taken care of during its use-phase, and where it will end up afterwards); and then
2. "Acting with critical awareness" to make our own decisions based on our personal values, preferences, situation (finances, accessibility, location, etc.), plan for use (special occasion vs. #30wears), health condition (allergies to synthetics, chemical sensitivities, etc.), experiences, knowledge, etc.
Whether you end up buying used over new; choosing Piñatex leather over conventional leather; opting for recycled polyester over virgin polyester; or just choosing quality over quantity, every one of your choices matter, and every step towards sustainable fashion, no matter your approach, counts.
If this is all new to you, though, no worries.
Try letting these three basic principles marinate in your mind as your first steps to a healthier wardrobe:
- Buy less, buy better;
- Support brands knowledgeable about and transparent with their supply chains; and
- Opt for goods made with care to the people, animals, and natural environments involved.
There's a wealth of quality information already out there for you to unravel at your own pace, so I'd highly encourage you to get curious, ask questions, take everything with a grain of salt, and craft your own set of fashion habits accordingly. (If you're interested, our Editor dedicated an entire part in the research-based book on holistic wellness she wrote on conscious fashion -- check it out to learn about how your style choices may be impacting your health.)
But the bottom line is this:
Conscious Fashion seeks first to empower consumers to make more informed, thoughtful choices, then welcomes individuals to experiment and take self-focused steps to live in greater alignment with their visions and values.
If this resonates with you, welcome to Conscious Fashion Collective.
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