You know the drill, but we’re here to remind you all about shopping sustainably. Avoid polyester, find ethically sourced clothes and reduce your environmental impact for some eco-conscious shopping.
Let’s be real for a second here – shopping sustainably is a bit of a hassle. You need to know what materials are eco-friendly, what brands are ethically sourced and, on top of that, find sustainable clothes you actually want to wear. None of this is particularly easy when you have a Zara shop down the street.
Unfortunately, most high-street brands (and many high-end ones too!) are not exactly champions at the whole eco-friendly fashion thing. This matters, especially since fast fashion is responsible for 20% of global water waste and most of the micro-plastic production. But the impacts of fast fashion are social too. Bad working conditions, cheap labour and vast tax breaks are sown into every polyester fibre of unsustainable clothing.
So, in the hopes of de-myth and simplifying sustainable menswear, here’s some key information you should be aware of.
What does sustainable shopping even mean?
Sustainable fashion is a bit of an umbrella term. It refers to clothing that is manufactured with minimal environmental impact but equally describes fashion that takes into consideration ethical sourcing, social justice, animal welfare and ecological integrity.
Buying from your local vintage store, for example, is a way of shopping sustainably. They may not themselves be made from sustainable materials, but by buying second-hand you are breaking the cycle of throw-away clothing which currently perpetuates the fashion scene.
Equally, shopping from your local designer helps reduce the clothes’ embodied carbon (meaning the carbon dioxide emitted in the production of materials) as you are reducing the transportation and mass-manufacture that larger brands, unfortunately, rely on.
What fabrics should I avoid for eco-friendly fashion?
It is all well and good for a brand to claim they are doing their bit for the planet, but unless you have a grasp of what materials are actually leaving behind pollutants, you’re placing blind trust on what could potentially be a thought-out marketing stunt.
The two things you should avoid at all costs are nylon and polyester – two synthetic and non-degradable materials that cause irreparable damage to the environment. Other fabrics which you should try your hardest to avoid include acrylic, viscose, acetate, leather and fur.
So what materials does that leave? Quite a few things, actually. Thanks to the slow but steady increase in sustainability awareness the access to alternative fabrics is at an all-time high, which is ideal for shopping sustainably. Some of the most frequently used ones include organic or recycled cotton, hemp, cork, econyl, lyocell, modal, piñatex, cupro or woocoa.
Where can I start shopping sustainably?
For some reason, most sustainable wear tends to be geared towards casual, summer attire. This is, of course, an issue. So here are a few of your best options according to what occasion you’re looking to dress up for.
For Workwear: Asket
In today’s supply chain, managing to trace back every clothing item to its manufacturer goes well beyond a simple “made in” tag, because it’s too complex. What Asket does so brilliantly is to provide a traceability receipt, allowing customers to choose which clothes to buy and businesses to endorse. Not to mention, their classic (but trendy) clothing includes some lovely workwear shirts to bring into the office.
For the Gym: Vuori
The coolest thing about Vuori is that they are sustainable without slacking on the high-performance activewear. That means their clothes are quick-drying, anti-odour and moisture-wicking.
For Going on Holiday: Patagonia
When it comes to sustainable fashion, nobody takes the win quite like Patagonia. Not only were they one of the pioneers of eco-friendly fashion, but they are one of the most ethically conscious high-street brands.
For PJs and Nightwear
Organic Basics are true to their name – and when it comes to sleepwear you really don’t need anything else. Comfortable and conscious, this brand is perfect for lounging at home knowing you’re not polluting the planet with your fashion choices.
What about haute couture?
Many brands have been hiding behind “made in Europe” tags for years, until the Clean Clothes Campaign busted the myth and proved that, in fact, Europe is no better than the rest of the world in terms of underpaying textile workers. In fact, Italy’s luxury fashion industry was recently exposed to working seamstresses without contracts or insurance.
But sustainable luxury does exist, and in a society which is increasingly holding brands accountable, we can expect to see many more coming about for those looking to start shopping sustainably. For the time being, try browsing Gucci (which is only just getting started with sustainability, but is by far the best well-known luxury brand in this category), Stella McCartney or Eileen Fisher.
Download Good on You
In this day and age, there is an app for just about everything you can think of, including one for all things sustainable fashion. Good on You has become an industry-standard way of determining a brand’s sustainable goals and achievements.
Think of it as a sustainability measure on the go, and an easy way of determining if you have paid enough attention when it comes to picking out your clothes.
Read more on sustainable denim brands here.