Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Over the last few years, the fashion industry has united to fight fashion waste. Wherever you turn, in your social media feeds, televisions or billboards, there’s a barrage of campaigns geared towards reducing waste, upcycling, recycling, among others. While this is great news, for sure, we have yet to attain the level of fashion sustainability that would call for widespread celebration.
The sobering reality is that we still have a long way to go. The fashion industry, which is worth a whopping $1.5 trillion globally, is a massive contributor to textile waste and carbon emissions. According to statistics, this industry is responsible for as much as 10% of all global pollution, second only to the aviation industry.
Did you know that Europe discards approximately 2 million tons of textiles annually? The rest of the world is just as culpable. The average American consumer purchases one item of clothing every five days, which equates to about 66 items per year. Clothing brands are now producing nearly twice as many collections per year than they did prior to 2000 due to rapid changes in fast fashion trends.
Consumers are purchasing and discarding clothing items at an unprecedented rate. Some experts have absolved the fast fashion brands of responsibility for this problem, dropping the blame at the feet of the fast fashion culture which has pervaded our society. However, it is a two-way street, that involves not just the brands themselves but also the consumers. So, if real solutions to the problem of environmental degradation, climate change, and global warming caused by the fashion industry are sought after, then the manufacturers, as well as the consumers, must collectively make wiser decisions.
Ethical and Sustainable Fashion
Research shows that the world economy will benefit hugely if the fashion industry could successfully address the environmental and societal issues brought about by fast fashion.
The solution lies in fashion being ethical and sustainable. With ethical fashion in place, certain protocols and clear standards will be upheld with respect to fabric manufacturing procedures that involve the use of organic and natural elements to minimize damage to our environment. Therefore, there is the need to bring innovation to the textile industry by facilitating the effective implementation of eco-friendly methods.
Fortunately, several clothing brands have already begun their work on sustainable and ethical fashion, like Everlane. Through its production processes, this company has committed to creating an ethical clothing business by reducing waste and toxic substances. A key component of its vision is to offer sustainable solutions, while maintaining transparency in their production and supply chains.
Everlane uses recycled raw materials and resources to make its footwear, apparel, and packaging, such as plastic water bottles. Everlane produces its own crops organically without using harmful pesticides, a practice that has historically been associated with the fashion industry. Taking advantage of synthetic and natural fabrics, the company emphasizes durability when manufacturing its denim jeans. Regenerative organic farming is used in the production of the silk material, as well as recycled water. In outsourcing some of its production to third party companies, Everlane strives to find partners that value fair wages, great working conditions, and fair labour practices. Efforts should be made by popular fashion brands to achieve this level of innovation.
Lilysilk is another brand whose processes are also geared toward sustainable and ethical practices. As a major player in the silk industry in the West and countries like China, Lilysilk is seeking to eliminate the exploitative practices that have impoverished laborers while taking advantage of the consumers. It is one brand that has placed the interest of consumers above everything.
Asides from companies like Everlane and Lilysilk, other brands are also taking the cue to ensure that the fashion needs of consumers today are not met at huge risks and damage to our environment. For these companies, it is the mission to not only maximize profits but also to contribute towards the betterment of our environment and society in general.
So, the next time you go shopping for new clothing or apparel, consider purchasing from the brand that uses sustainable materials. This ensures that only brands with ethical business practices, best practices, and international codes of conduct are allowed to thrive.
Approaching Fashion as a Minimalist
Consumers have a role to play in ensuring that sustainable fashion is made possible. We’ve already outlined the perils of fast fashion – the pollution of the environment from the use of toxic textile wastes, carbon emissions, exploitation of laborers… the list goes on and on!
However, out of the chaos created by fast fashion has emerged a trend – minimalism, which rejects the allures of consumerism. Minimalist fashion has been presented as the key to a happier and more sustainable lifestyle. And this has proved to be the case. So, it is time to turn your attention towards a minimalist wardrobe.
The fashion industry, however, does not seem to be the only one that has gotten out of hand. With its constant hunger for cheaper and trendier items, the fashion industry reflects society at large. Marketing experts relentlessly promote consumerism. As a result of this culture, anxiety and depression are on the rise in society, with everyone trying to outdo the other.
So, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the pressure that comes with trying to keep up with the Joneses, you can oppose consumerism and fast fashion by choosing minimalist fashion. By so doing, you’re decreasing your stress levels, improving your financial health, and ensuring fashion sustainability. The increase in your overall happiness and life when you take this route cannot be overstated.
What Is Minimalist Fashion?
You may have heard about Marie Kondo, the famed Japanese organizing consultant. If you do, then you may have an idea about minimalism. It is a concept that emphasizes the need for people to strip back on the non-essentials in their lives, allowing only things that spark joy and provide real value. In the same vein, minimalist fashion may refer to having only the necessary fashion items in your closet that bring joy.
In a world that has lost its mind to the consumerist narrative, minimalism presents us with a valid alternative. It is practically telling us, “Hey, have you ever thought about having less clutter in your space?” This will invariably mean fewer debts, less stress, less stuff! The result? Your limited resources are channelled to the right stuff that will improve your health and generally provide for a more meaningful life.
Beginning Your Journey
So, you ask yourself, “how do I get started with minimalism? Start with the clothes. There’s a good reason that Pinterest is filled with pictures of tightly curated wardrobes housing few pieces of wispy-looking clothing pieces when we search for minimalism.
Did you know that the average person only wears 20% of their wardrobe on a regular basis? This means that 80% of our clothing items are rendered to the abyss of obscurity, and we could simply be fine without them. Because in truth, we will always reach for that favourite jacket.
When I first started my journey into minimalism, I commenced with my closet. I went through every clothing item that I owned. The aim for to settle for 20%. So, the rest of the 80% of what I owned, I donated or discarded. As a result of that experience, my perspective has shifted to only purchasing high-quality, sustainable products.
While this is a good place to begin, it does not encompass the entire picture. There is a lot more to minimalism than the wispy, sparse-looking wardrobe. When you practice minimalist fashion, it's more about the attitude that you bring to your wardrobe and the ideas that drive the decisions you make.
Having a minimal approach to fashion means you’re intentional about every fashion piece that appears in your wardrobe. So, instead of aiming for a small number of things, you’re much concerned about filling up your wardrobe with things that fit your style, are of high quality, and provide real, lasting value.
In other words, we're not simply trying to reduce your clothing items to just a single number - we're going further than that. We’re not on the mission to appear boring, or say to the world, “look at me! Look at all the things I have refused to buy! Take the slow route instead. As a subculture of fashion minimalism, slow fashion advocates that, instead of having to buy fashion items every other day just to keep up with trends, one should "buy less, choose well, make it last."
7 Thing to Remember when Creating a Capsule Wardrobe
A minimalist wardrobe benefits everyone, regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle. And what better way to achieve this than getting a capsule wardrobe. It can help to reduce your wardrobe to only your favourite items. The advantages are numerous – you will feel better in your clothes, free up space, increase mental clarity, have less laundry and save time getting dressed.
1. Analyse your Style and Lifestyle
Building your dream wardrobe starts here. Consider what fashion items dominate your current regular wardrobe. You'll be able to build a wardrobe that aligns with your fashion taste instead of your fantasy self by using the answers.
2. Track what you like to wear for a month
You can do this by making note of everything you wear for one month. Or better yet, take a selfie with each outfit change.
Using the information you were able to gather during the month, move on to decluttering your closet. Anything that no longer fits or is no longer needed should be donated or discarded.
4. Colour Palettes are Important
Using your notes or outfit selfies will help you determine which colours you prefer and can be referenced for future purchases.
5. Quality over Quantity
Changing trends are inevitable. Invest in classic pieces made of sustainable materials. The price of these items may be higher than that of fast fashion items, but the quality is worth it.
6. Tailoring is Key
Clothes play a significant role in highlighting your personality. Clothing off-the-rack rarely compliments each body type and style. Therefore, tailoring always makes sense if you're investing in a high-quality piece of clothing.
Why is Tailoring Important?
a. A custom alteration to ready-made clothing always makes it appear that the piece of clothing was made just for you. Wearing these pieces, you will feel more confident.
b. You will be more comfortable. The old saying, “wear what you’re comfortable in” is so true. Tailored clothes help achieve this because they’re modified to your unique body shape. With tailored pieces, you don’t have to constantly adjust your clothes. You can relax, knowing that you look polished.
c. Tailoring can save you money. Shop your closet. Decluttering your closet may reveal a few items that can be upcycled. You may be able to create a perfect piece for yourself with the help of a tailor who can alter the piece to suit you.
7. Don’t forget the Shoe Cobblers
Your shoes go through a lot in their lifetime. When they’re not walking down the city streets, or going for a light jog, or dancing in the club, then they’re climbing through rough terrains. So, whether they’re boots, stilettos, work shoes, or everyday pairs of loafers, their lifespan decreases every time you wear them. This is why you need an extra layer of protection added to your shoes to prolong the life of these shoes. A cobbler could help restore or prolong the lifespan of your shoes by adding protective soles to their footwear.
Sole protectors are necessary for your shoes. They are pieces of rubber or metallic materials that go on the bottom of your footwear. In addition to preventing your shoes from wearing faster, they also provide better traction. Ladies' shoes are especially in need of sole protectors since their soles are thinner than those of men's shoes.
Additionally, toe plates should be considered for your footwear. They are metallic or hard plastics that give an extra layer of protection to your shoes. Their placement on the toe area of your footwear provides long-lasting benefits.
Clothing and Shoe Care Products to Consider
As you invest in quality clothing and footwear, you should consider the care products you'll need to ensure that you prolong their lifespan and reduce their cost per wear. We have curated a list of care products that we love.
The Laundress – Clothing Care Products for the Discerning Minimalist
More details about these products can be found here. These are not Affiliate Links. We just love well.ca
Shoe Care Products for the Discerning Minimalist
Saphir Pommadier Cream Shoe Polish
Wellington 12 oz Cotton Chamois
Saphir Juvacuir Recoloring Cream for Leather Goods
Saphir Leather Cleaning Soap
Medium Wellington Horsechair Shoe Polishing Brush
Edge Dressing & Renovating Recolorant Repair Cream
Wellington Deluxe Shoe Polish Dauber
Saphir Super Invulner Waterproof Spray
More details about these products can be found here. This is not an Affiliate Link. We just love kirbyallison.com
It's All About the Care
We can care for our quality pieces by handwashing them with special cleansers and hanging/laying them flat to dry. This will prolong the life of the garments. It is worth the investment to care for fewer quality pieces that cost as much as we can reasonably afford. Additionally, by going to the local cobbler, polishing, conditioning, and treating our quality footwear can extend their life.
The minimalist sees fashion as getting dressed every day as a source of happiness. Time is better spent doing things other than worrying about what to wear or dealing with laundry that never ends. The time has come to become more conscious about our clothing and apparel, and to support brands that promote sustainable fashion. Supporting these brands will ensure that fair wages are paid and the materials used are of premium, natural or recycled origin.