Are you someone trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle? From how you eat, socialize to how you travel. Maybe now is the time to step up your game and start thinking about how you dress up and shop for clothes.
We’ve all heard of ethical fashion (also sustainable fashion or eco-fashion). But are you struggling because society is planting doubts in you? Are skeptical friends giving you arguments against ethical fashion? Is everyone saying contradictory things? Talking to the wrong people who don’t really know much about the topic may deter you from making the right choices.
There are many misconceptions about ethical fashion, from it being too expensive and complicated to luxury brands claiming they are inherently sustainable. Today, let’s look at some of the biggest myths about ethical fashion and debunk them.
1. Ethical fashion is ugly, or “for hipsters only”
If you looked at sustainable fashion three decades ago, maybe you would find only hideous shirts and tattered dresses. But that isn’t the case nowadays! You can find some of the cutest and prettiest clothes in thrift stores. Have you ever browsed through the catalog of a sustainable clothing brand?
It’s a cliche, and rude, to think that sustainable choices are reserved for hippies. There are a lot of options that let you dress sustainably while still embracing your style. Ethical fashion is for everyone. For example, just look at Allbirds and the popularity of their products.
2. Ethical fashion is expensive
One of the most common arguments people make to oppose ethical fashion is that it is too expensive. The truth is that sustainable fashion is not about how many new clothes you can buy. A lot of it doesn’t involve spending money, like swapping clothes or engaging in fashion activism.
You can find plenty of high-quality and beautiful secondhand clothes in a thrift store that might be cheaper than fast fashion. Fast fashion seems like the most affordable option, but the cost adds up, and most of the garments aren’t even durable.
3. Building a sustainable wardrobe means purging your closet
It’s hard to know precisely how people started believing that starting on sustainable fashion means they need first to purge their wardrobe. For most, it’s a daunting and wildly overwhelming thought. When you think about it, there is NOTHING ethical about throwing away clothes you already own.
While it may be wise to assess your closet and the types of clothing you like, you don’t have to clear it out. There’s even no need to get rid of fast fashion items you have because they might last you for some more years if you take care of them carefully.
4. Luxury brands are more sustainable than fast fashion
Remember that being of high quality doesn’t mean something is sustainable. The price doesn’t matter either, which brings us to the problem with luxury brands. A lot of big-name fashion brands claim they are making the step to be more carbon-neutral and ethical. For example, Burberry launched “carbon-neutral shows.”
Most of these luxury lines aren’t more sustainable than your typical fast-fashion brand. They are the ones using genuine leather and synthetic materials. On the other hand, choosing the right fast-fashion pieces might be more sustainable, especially if we’re talking about a single good quality item that you can keep on using for many years.
5. At least fast fashion is providing jobs for people in developing countries
“Well, at least by buying fast fashion we are helping people in developing countries so they have jobs and don’t starve.”
Let’s hope it’s not true at all. Many people tell themselves things like “fast fashion is providing jobs in third-world countries” in a desperate attempt to justify their choices. Yet, we can’t deny that the fast fashion industry needs more profit, which means they will pay as little wages as they can.
Make no mistake. The clothing industry won’t disappear, production will continue, and people will always work in factories. What’s important is that we fight to eliminate dangerous and unfair practices within the industry.
6. Donating clothes means you don’t need to worry about ethical fashion
Finally, people think that if they are donating clothes, they are already sustainable. Yes, it’s good to donate unused garments, but don’t use them to offset your overconsumption. Did you know that only 10-20% of donated items end up in stores? It is simply because the supply far exceeds the demand.
It’s okay to donate clothes if you have to, as long as you’re not using it as an excuse to keep buying more new items. Alternatively, you can always sell or give them away directly, reuse them, or even repair them!
Ethical fashion doesn’t have to be complicated. The bottom line is that it’s about making responsible choices whenever you can. Don’t worry about getting rid of the “unethical” clothes you already own; worry about making them count as long as possible. Good luck!