I haven’t been able to wander mindlessly through a clothing store since March 2020, when I learned through my climate policy studies how polluting the fashion industry is. Deeply scarred, I vowed to take a year off from buying new clothes. I lasted four months, and I’ll save the rest of that story for another day.
Now my choices around fashion form part of my Mindful Money Manifesto. I read clothing labels as scrutinously as a bodybuilder reads a food label, choosing items that have a high composition of sustainable materials such as ethically sourced wool and cotton.
The effort required to dress yourself more sustainably need not zap the creativity out of it. Quite the contrary actually; These nine tastemakers prove you can be a responsible custodian of the planet and look impeccably stylish while doing it. You’ll notice a common thread through all of their tips: Only buy things you really truly adore, and make sure you actually wear your pieces.
9 Influencers, Stylists And Designers
Bianca O’Neill, fashion journalist
“One of the most important things you can do to minimise your impact on the environment when purchasing clothing and accessories is to try not to add to the huge waste problem that plagues the fashion industry. Buy second hand or vintage where you can, mend and upcycle instead of throwing out old clothing, and only buy what you actually need. The most unsustainable piece of clothing in your wardrobe is the one you bought and never wore.” – @bianca.oneill
Kiki Baltzi, fashion blogger and stylist
“I choose to shop preloved and vintage luxury items. This way, I save money, I own my dream designer pieces and I don’t look like a fashion ”victim’ while remaining sustainable. By buying second-hand items you are extending their life. Therefore, you can reduce their carbon, water, and waste footprints in less than a year of use. ” – @kiki_x_tarik
Faye De Lanty, eco stylist, author Opshopulence
“I created the acronym STORY to guide my decision-making: S-hop small, sustainably, slow. T-hrift to empower community. O-bserve, ask questions, take action. R-euse. Y-es to people and planet.
I don’t see old, I don’t see uncool, I just see the endless possibility and potential with pre-loved.” – @fayedelanty
Ariane Leondaridis, co-founder Ilio Nema
“Really, sustainable fashion is so much more personal, stylish, unique and is the best way to create
your very own style. I mix high and low (vintage Levi’s and second hand Chanel shoes for example), new and old, (my grandma’s blouse with an ILIO NEMA mini skirt), artisanal with modern (a handmade caftan with Veja sneaker).
Know your style and buy only pieces you really love and will wear for a long time. I focus on buying timeless pieces, and on buying good quality only. Because if it has to last, it has to be
well made. Wear natural fibres; I prioritise organic cotton and handmade pieces. Also, don’t do impulsive online buying late at night! If I put things in my cart while internet shopping, I try to leave it in there for a few days to make sure I really like it. If a week later I still have the envy for it then usually it means it’s not impulsive.” – @ilio_nema
Joanne Gambale, former Vogue writer, founder of Slogue sustainable styling service
“Apart from undies and two or three pieces each of activewear and swimwear I haven’t shopped new for four years and counting. I run workshops on sustainable style and one of the first questions is always: ‘Which labels should I buy from?’ Or: ‘How do I get rid of my fast fashion clothes sustainably?’ This mindset needs to change: It is better to wear out the clothes we already own – no matter if they’re fast fashion – than to buy ANY new. I teach clients to ‘shop your own wardrobe’.
The second most sustainable fashion after the clothes you already own is secondhand; Resale shopping gives us the freedom to develop our own trend-transcending style (not to mention access to better quality).” – @joannegambale
Jess and Stef Dadon, founders of vegan and environmentally focused footwear label, TWOOBS.
“The first change we made in our shopping habits was to put a vegan lens on our purchasing, so we wouldn’t buy any animal products like leather, suede or fur. Then we started to slow our purchasing, going from real shopping addicts to real mindful purchasing. As huge fashion fans this part was certainly more challenging, but now when we do come across something we love and feel pulled to make the purchase there are questions we ask ourselves like “will we still love it in 5 years?”, and “is the quality good enough to last?”. – @twoobs
Virginia Martin, designer, Bul Clothing
“I like to keep a mindful approach when shopping by holding a “less is more” mentality. I look for sustainable, natural fibres that allow for breathability, longevity and ease of movement alongside quality design and craftsmanship and of course sustainable initiatives. I am also conscious of choosing timeless / forever pieces that are versatile and can be worn throughout the seasons, items that can mix and match in to my wardrobe and also pieces that do not follow trends to continue a slow-fashion approach and soften my environmental footprint.” – @bulclothing
Imogen Lamport, personal brand image expert
“Acquiring knowledge is the biggest factor in becoming sustainable with regards to your wardrobe choices. When you know what suits you physically, the colours, the styles, the cuts, the fabrics, and what suits your personality along with what you need for your lifestyle, you are empowered to make much better choices. You shop with knowledge rather than taking a hit and miss approach.
Having an organised wardrobe also helps you become more sustainable as you know exactly what you have, can easily access it and can more easily see all your outfit options. I’ve discovered so many “didn’t know I had one already” double up purchases in client’s wardrobes because of lack of organisation. If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it and therefore it’s wasteful.
So often clothes languish in wardrobes unworn because they don’t fit quite right. Spending money on alterations makes your clothes more comfortable and so more sustainable.” – @insideoutstyleblog