Sustainability: How can I choose sustainable clothing?

Sustainable Fashion
sustainable-fashion

In my series of blogs on sustainability in fashion, I am explaining why I use only natural fibre fabrics in my Strévé Design shirts, dresses, coats and scarves.

I have a unique perspective on fashion because I have worked in the industry for forty years and I have witnessed the rise of fast fashion and the consequences in its aftermath.

The word sustainable is becoming a popular word in conversation but let’s face it, most of us don’t really know what “sustainable “ means anymore. The amount of clothing described as sustainable has quadrupled among fashion brands in the last few years. Organics, recycled fibres, vegan and eco-conscious collections are the messages that are being attached to clothing without any regulations. This is called green washing.

Little progress has been made on improving garment workers’ rights or reducing fashion’s environmental impact.

Consumers believe recycling clothes will help, but modern garments are often made of multiple fibres which makes recycling extremely complicated. Alarmingly micro plastics are released when we wash synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon and acrylic. These toxins are released into our water and are found in our food chain.

Most people just look at the fibre content, for example bamboo, and then they look at the price. If the price fits into their budget they buy quilt free and assume they are making the planet a better place. Unfortunately they are only looking at the beginning step and the end step without understanding the many middle steps involved in getting the product to you.

Many truly sustainable textiles are made in a circular cycle. The dyes involved in the processing are washed with water that is cleaned and recycled back into the process. I use natural Tencel or Lyocell in many of my designs which is made from eucalyptus tree bark pulp. The chemicals used are eco friendly and this fibre dyes very easily.

What can I do?

  1. Start by becoming more informed.
    Read blogs like mine, talk to people who make things and talk to a store owner or employee before you buy. Find out where materials come from and what country made your garment. The country of origin can give you information on legislation involving the manufacturing process and human rights laws.
    For example most of my leather and fabrics are made in the EU or Japan. These countries follow strict laws surrounding the use of chemicals and do not allow the dumping of waste water. Workers are protected under human rights laws or unions.
    The country of origin is always found inside the garment on a label.
  2. 30 Years Test!
    Do you think that this garment will stand up to many years of wear. Ask this question before you buy! Buy better quality and you will buy less. You will also save money. All of my Strévé Design collections are classically designed with the highest quality materials. I expect my pieces to be worn from 10 to 30 years or more.
  3. Buy natural fibres.
    Learn the names and how they are made.
    Many truly sustainable textiles are made in a circular cycle. The dyes involved in the processing are washed with water that is cleaned and recycled back into the process. I use natural Tencel or Lyocell in many of my designs which is made from eucalyptus tree bark pulp. The chemicals used are eco friendly and this textile dyes very easily. Other good natural fibres to consider are linen, model and organic cotton. The linen that I use is made in China but it is certified Oeko-Tex. This is a registered trademark, representing testing of all components in a fabric. The product has been tested for harmful substances and are safe from a human ecological perspective and also manufactured under working conditions.
  4. Wash your clothes less.
    Many people wash their clothes after one wear. Natural fibres do not hold your perspiration and when dirty require less agitation to become clean. Fibres such as silk and wool are anti microbial which means they do not need to be cleaned very often and when cleaned or hand washed release the dirt very easily. Sometimes just airing out natural fibres will allow you a few more wears. Less washing will also allow the clothing to last longer. Silk remains one of my personal favourite fibres not only for its luxury but for its low maintenance.
  5. Air and line dry as much as possible after washing.
    Most natural fibres should be air dried and not dried in a dryer. Save on electricity at the same time.
  6. Invest in transitional clothing.
    This is clothing that can be worn between two and four seasons. Natural fibres are best for this because they are breathable. My silk collection can be worn four seasons and lends itself to layering in colder months. My choice of a heavier weight linen for my shirt collection allows these pieces to be worn three to four seasons.
  7. Change your attitude towards clothing.
    Learn to love your clothing and treat each piece with the respect it deserves. In turn you will find that your clothing not only looks better on you but you become more comfortable and confident in your clothes.
  8. Shop your own closet.
    Start to buy and collect more classic styles that can be worn for many years. Edit your wardrobe and remove what does not work. Remember what you already have in your closet while shopping. Learn the lines and proportions that suit you. Think twice before removing something from your wardrobe. If you are not sure what the definition of classic design really is check out my website. Classic design is my specialty and can always be updated with fashion forward accessories.
  9. Mend and Repair.
    Sew on missing buttons or repair seams instead of throwing out.
  10. Donate your clothes but think twice before removing an item from your wardrobe.
  11. Become inspired!
    Follow women who have developed their own sense of style and are not chained to trends. Develop your own style and consider your closet as your own personal and edited collection of your self expression!

Final Thoughts On Sustainability

I hope that I have given you some help in making more sustainable choices. In my next blog in this series, I will describe in more detail different natural fibres and how they are grown and made.

I feel that the best consumer is an educated consumer. We can all learn together. I hope you agree! We all have the power to make change with our purchases.

For some inspiration, please check out my sustainable natural fibre pieces from my collections.

Strévé Design Silk Collection.
Strévé  Design Linen Collection

You can also check out my posts on leather and vegan leather.

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