If you’ve ever read my blog before, you might have noticed that I’m kind of into fashion. Just a bit. But recently, I’ve been seriously re-evaluating the way that I shop. I’m at a point where I feel like I can’t be vegan, and campaigning for the environment, and working against the exploitation of animals, when I’m perfectly okay buying from brands that exploit their workers and have completely unsustainable manufacturing processes.
Prices in high street stores often shock me. As someone who can sew, I know the time, money, and effort that goes into making a piece of clothing. Before, I’d see something and think “What a bargain! I couldn’t make it myself for this price!”. Now, I look at the same prices and wonder how they’re paying their workers decently out of that.
Bloggers like Eleanor Claudie have been so inspirational to me in terms of ethical shopping. I’m so keen to do more research on sustainable fashion, and watch all the amazing documentaries that have been made about it.
Instead of buying trend-driven pieces that are mass-produced to last a single season before being thrown away, I want to invest in pieces that are made to last, and made in a way that has a minimal impact on the environment. And – of course – I want to stop buying from brands who exploit their workers in the name of a bigger profit margin.
There are two ways of going about this. More and more ethical brands are popping up who are creating jobs for people in third-world countries; using natural, bio-degradable fabrics; using a percentage of their profits to help repair the damage we’re doing to the planet; and so much more. The more we buy from brands like this, rather than most high-street brands, the more we’re contributing to a culture that respects human dignity and values saving the world we live in. Hopefully, as more people support these wonderful brands, more brands who currently use less sustainable practices will take notice.
Unfortunately, brands like this are sometimes a bit pricier than your typical high-street shop. With good reason, of course. Remember that they’re actually paying their workers enough to survive on! And their clothes are typically higher quality, so you don’t have to replace them as often. In the long run, investing will work out cheaper. But still, with trying to save for rent and a car on my student budget, I struggle a bit. That’s where thrifting comes in.
Second-hand shops are a real-life treasure hunt. And, just like in Indiana Jones (I’m guessing – I’ve never actually watched those) you have to dig through a lot of crap to find the good stuff. But when you do, it’s really good stuff. Like this shirt that I picked up at an animal anti-cruelty shop. By buying it I wasn’t contributing to any more waste on the planet, and I was helping save animals. Sounds like a win to me. It cost me a whole R20 (about $1.50), it’s Marks and Spencer, and it’s honestly like new. It’s excellent quality, and such a timeless style that it’ll last me years.
I think a lot of people associate thrifting with long, floral, granny-style dresses, and grungy old cardigans. I’m more than okay with both of those, but I also wanted to show that that’s not all that’s out there. If you’re prepared to look, you can find some gorgeous, classic pieces, like this white shirt. Think about it: I’m sure you think you have great style, right? And when you get sick of your clothes, you might donate them? So doesn’t it stand to reason that there are other people just like you out there, who also donate nice clothes to charity shops? No matter your sense of style, if you give charity shops a chance, you’re bound to find some bargains that are right up your street. Some second-hand stores are even dedicated to designer pieces!
I’m definitely going to be giving ethical fashion a lot more air time on here and my YouTube channel, so keep an eye out. I want to show how easy it can be to shop ethically and still look good. As I learn more, I’ll delve deeper into the different aspects of sustainable and ethical fashion. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll start researching those areas first. I’m so excited to take you all on this journey with me. Hopefully I can inspire some of you to join!