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Sustainable Fashion: Why We Should Care

11 minutes

In recent years, sustainable fashion has taken the fashion industry by storm. More consumers are becoming aware of the environmental and social impact of their clothing choices, leading to a shift in shopping habits. If you’re one of these consumers interested in making the shift, we’re here to help. I’ll touch on the why and cover the how. Read on for steps you can take to make eco-friendly choices, and the tradeoffs and difficulties associated with adopting this approach.

Textile waste

Defining Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of practices aimed at reducing the fashion industry’s negative environmental and social impacts. These impacts include excessive water consumption, pollution, unethical labor practices, and the vast amount of waste generated. To address these issues, sustainable fashion brands must balance various factors.

Materials and Fabrics

One of the most critical aspects of sustainability in fashion is the choice of materials. Sustainable brands often opt for organic, recycled, or upcycled materials, which reduce the environmental footprint of production. These materials are often more expensive, but they resonate with eco-conscious consumers. However, there’s a tradeoff here, as these materials may not always be as readily available or affordable as conventional options.

Production Practices

Sustainable brands also prioritize ethical production practices. They focus on fair wages, safe working conditions, and transparency in their supply chains. This commitment often translates into higher production costs, which can impact the final price of the clothing. Balancing these ethical considerations with cost efficiency is a constant challenge.

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction is a central element of sustainable fashion. Armoire encourages consumers to rent clothing instead of purchasing, reducing the number of garments ending up in landfills. 

Sustainable Fashion: The Why

Sustainable fashion is growing in popularity because of the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Traditional clothing production is resource-intensive and contributes to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable fashion brands focus on minimizing these impacts by using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and implementing responsible production practices.

Sustainable fashion brands also address ethical concerns within the industry. We know a lot more today about the human rights violations and poor working conditions prevalent in fast fashion factories. Supporting sustainable brands means supporting fair labor practices and ensuring workers are paid fairly and work in safe conditions.

As conscious consumers, we also benefit from the quality of sustainable garments. They’re  designed to last longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Choosing timeless pieces made to last keeps garments out of the landfill, and let’s face it—quality looks good on us.

While Armoire’s clothing rental model offers a compelling solution to many sustainability challenges, it is just one piece of the puzzle. The fashion industry as a whole still faces significant hurdles in becoming truly sustainable.

The fast fashion industry, known for its rapid production cycles and cheap prices, continues to dominate the market. These brands often prioritize low costs over ethical and environmental concerns, perpetuating unsustainable practices.

Sustainable Fashion: The How

Research and Awareness

Many consumers are still unaware of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment and society. Ignorance is a blocker to progress. Thanks for taking action by reading this article! Please continue to research sustainable fashion brands, looking for those that prioritize eco-friendly materials, ethical production, and transparent supply chains.


Renting clothes is a step toward sustainable fashion

Sure, we’re biased, but protecting Mother Earth is an important driver for us. Borrowing clothes rather than buying them is a wholesale lifestyle change, and one of the most enjoyable ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the fashion industry. 

You may be familiar with formal wear rentals, but that’s not exactly what we’re looking to do here. While renting for special occasions is a super smart financial decision, you can rent for your daily life too. Armoire offers a rotating wardrobe for work wear, date night, athleisure, etc.—clothes for wherever life takes you, including those special events. You get to wear champagne styles on a beer budget. 

When you’re tired of an item, it goes back into the pool where it’s new to others. Collectively, we’re giving every garment a long life, eliminating the need for fast fashion.

Secondhand Shopping

Secondhand shopping is one tactic towards sustainable fashion

Second-hand clothing from thrift stores is not a new idea, but it’s having a moment like never before. Hipsters and savvy professionals alike enjoy the thrill of the hunt—you never know what you might find! I scored an authentic Coach satchel for $3 that I’ve carried daily for the past six years, and my go-to vintage beaded Christian Dior belt for $1. These are quality pieces that will last a lifetime. I shudder to think of them ending up in a landfill, discarded for the latest fast fashion. 

The downside to secondhand shopping is that it does take time. You have to dig, and you may leave several stores empty-handed before finding a diamond in the rough. On the plus side, many thrift stores are the lifeline for charitable organizations, so your support is a win on multiple levels.

Capsule Wardrobes

Capsule wardrobe

Creating a capsule wardrobe involves selecting a few versatile, high-quality pieces that can be mixed and matched for various outfits. Fewer clothing items mean less consumption, which can help reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry, including waste and overproduction. By curating a capsule wardrobe, you’re more conscious of your clothing choices and make intentional purchases.

An added bonus: with fewer items to choose from, getting dressed in the morning becomes much easier, as you have a cohesive set of clothing that all works together. Simplifying your wardrobe can reduce decision fatigue and stress related to getting dressed, as well as the anxiety of having a closet full of unworn or ill-fitting clothing. Many Armoire members invest in high-quality capsule wardrobes, then utilize their subscription to add variety. They have their basics covered and enjoy an endless supply of new-to-them clothes while staying true to their commitment to sustainability.

Cast your ballot for sustainable fashion

Policy and Regulation

Governments and regulatory bodies play a vital role in shaping the fashion industry’s sustainability efforts. Implementing and enforcing regulations related to labor practices, environmental impact, and product labeling can incentivize change. Here are some examples of work that has been done:

  1. California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (2010): This law requires certain businesses to disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chains.
  2. Textile Recycling Research and Development Act (2019): This legislation authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct research and development on recycling technologies for textiles.
  3. Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC): While not legislation, the SAC is a nonprofit organization that created the Higg Index, a suite of tools for the standardized measurement of the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products. Some companies voluntarily adopt these tools as part of their sustainability initiatives.

You can help by casting your vote any time sustainability policies are on the ballot, which—frankly—isn’t often enough.

Tradeoffs and Difficulties

One of the main tradeoffs in choosing sustainable fashion is the cost. Sustainable clothing often comes with a higher price tag due to the use of eco-friendly materials and ethical labor practices. Also, sustainable fashion options are not as widely available as fast fashion. Finding sustainable brands in local stores or online can sometimes be a challenge, requiring more effort and patience. And then there’s the challenge of finding sustainable options that match your personal style. 

These challenges are on our minds every day here at Armoire. We know our members turn to us to help them solve these obstacles. The eco-conscious shopper gets access to a never-ending wardrobe of quality clothes with help from Armoire stylists and from our smart algorithm that learns her style preferences.

The Big Picture

The journey towards sustainable fashion is a complex and multifaceted one, with no one-size-fits-all solution. Armoire’s clothing rental model offers a compelling alternative to traditional consumption patterns, addressing the issue of clothing waste head-on. However, it is essential to recognize that true sustainability in the fashion industry requires a collective effort from brands, consumers, and policymakers.

As consumers, we have the power to make more informed choices about the clothing we purchase or rent. By considering the environmental and social impact of our fashion decisions, we can drive change within the industry. Sustainable fashion is not just a trend; it’s a necessary transformation to ensure a more equitable and environmentally responsible future for the world of style.

Supporting sustainable fashion brands has a far-reaching impact. By choosing eco-friendly and ethical options, consumers are not only reducing their own carbon footprint but also sending a message to the fashion industry. Increased demand for sustainable clothing can lead to broader industry changes, encouraging more brands to adopt environmentally friendly practices and ethical standards.

In an age where the fashion industry’s environmental and ethical impact is under scrutiny, consumers have the power to make a difference through their choices. Sustainable fashion brands offer an opportunity to support eco-friendly and ethical practices. While there are tradeoffs and difficulties in adopting a sustainable fashion approach, the long-term benefits to the planet, society, and personal finances make it a worthwhile endeavor. Ultimately, caring about sustainable fashion is not just a trend; it’s a conscious choice that can shape the future of the fashion industry.

Case Study: Boden’s Journey Towards Sustainable Fashion

Boden styles available to rent from Armoire

In an era when sustainability has become a buzzword in the fashion industry, Boden, a well-known clothing brand, has made strides to align itself with ethical and eco-friendly practices. This case study delves into Boden’s commitment to sustainability, analyzing key factors such as responsible sourcing, fair trade, and ethical practices within its supply chain. We’ll explore the tradeoffs involved in balancing these factors and the challenges faced in the pursuit of sustainability, emphasizing the significance of informed consumer choices.

Responsible Sourcing: The Foundation of Sustainable Fashion

Responsible sourcing forms the cornerstone of any sustainable fashion brand. For Boden, this involves selecting materials that have minimal environmental impact and ensuring that they are sourced in an ethical manner. Boden uses a mix of organic cotton, recycled materials, and sustainable fabrics in its collections, reducing its reliance on resource-intensive materials.

However, responsible sourcing isn’t without its challenges. Sustainable materials can often be more expensive and limited in availability. This presents a tradeoff between sustainability and affordability, forcing brands like Boden to make strategic choices to maintain a balance.

Fair Trade: Upholding Ethical Practices

Fair trade is another vital aspect of Boden’s sustainability journey. The brand is committed to ensuring the workers in its supply chain are treated fairly, with proper wages, safe working conditions, and adherence to labor rights. By partnering with suppliers who share these values, Boden strives to create a positive impact on the lives of those who contribute to its products.

Yet, implementing fair trade practices can be complex. It requires careful auditing and monitoring of supply chain partners, and it may entail higher production costs. Brands like Boden must weigh these costs against their commitment to ethical practices.

A Holistic Approach to Sustainable Fashion

Beyond responsible sourcing and fair trade, Boden is dedicated to incorporating ethical practices into its overall operations. This includes reducing waste, minimizing water usage, and utilizing sustainable packaging. Boden’s efforts also extend to reducing its carbon footprint by incorporating energy-efficient practices and transportation alternatives.

The challenge here is the transition to more sustainable processes and the costs associated with such initiatives. Investments in technology and training, as well as the potential for a temporary reduction in profit margins, are all tradeoffs that brands must consider.

Consumer Impact: The Power of Choice

As consumers, our choices have a profound impact on the fashion industry. By supporting brands like Boden, which prioritize sustainability, responsible sourcing, fair trade, and ethical practices, we play a vital role in driving positive change. It’s crucial to recognize that making more sustainable choices might come with a higher price tag, but the long-term benefits to the environment and society are worth considering.

Boden’s journey towards sustainability is a testament to the complexities and challenges of fashion brands striving to balance responsible sourcing, fair trade, and ethical practices within their supply chains. The tradeoffs and difficulties faced are real, but so too is the importance of considering the impact of our choices as consumers.

Ultimately, supporting brands like Boden that prioritize sustainability sends a powerful message to the fashion industry. It reinforces the idea that ethical and eco-friendly practices are not only desirable but essential for a better, more sustainable future. As consumers, we have the power to influence the direction of the fashion industry by making informed choices that prioritize the planet and its people.

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