5 Tips For Keeping an Ethical Wardrobe on a Budget
Feature Image: The Good Trade
As a society, we are continuously becoming more aware of how and what we consume, and this is largely thanks to the media. In a fast-fashion market full of H&Ms and Forever 21s, it’s hard to stay conscious as consumers when most of us who shop at major labels are also on a tight budget. One of the biggest caveats of shopping ethically is that it often comes with a much higher price tag. Brands such as Everlane, Madewell, and ABLE are making waves in challenging the industry status quo, while also trying to keep things at competitive, affordable prices, all whilst paying their employees livable wages, recycling used materials, and trying to lessen their carbon-footprint. As conscious young adults wanting to pave a brighter future for women in an often corrupt fashion industry, how do we stay ethical while also not breaking the bank? Here are 5 tips to keep your wardrobe creative and sustainable.
1. Quality over Quantity
It is easy to get side-tracked when shopping, especially at fast-fashion monoliths with $5 t-shirts. Before you buy 20 of those shirts that will inevitably fall to pieces, consider another tactic. Instead of buying more for less, how about buying staple, quality pieces that cost more, but last much longer? The old sentiment is true—investing in one pair of quality jeans that fit perfectly and are made well (ethical brand pun intended) versus buying 3 pairs that are average and were probably made unethically, are not worth the cheap price tag.
2. Re-wear and Reinvent
Let’s face it, we all get tired of our same wardrobe, especially as new seasons begin to come around. But before you pick up your credit card and go on a subsequently regrettable shopping spree, consider the endless amount of cute outfit combinations that lay hidden in the recesses of that walk-in closet. Taking cues from point number 1—if you already have quality, staple denim, tees, and shoes in your closet, the combinations are practically endless. Breathing new life into what you already own can make it even more unique and timeless.
3. Sign up for e-newsletters for some of your favorite sustainable fashion brands
This one is a recent find of mine, and although it took me a while before I bought into the hype of email marketing, I’ve found that it has scored me some serious discounts on some of my favorite ethical brands. Whether it’s birthday discounts, online warehouse sales, or member perks, simply signing up for email updates from your favorite brands can not only keep you up-to-date on the latest trends but can also score you some serious deals.
4. Thrift, thrift, and thrift some more
One thing that saved my wallet in college and taught me about a world beyond brand name designers was weekend bargain shopping with my freshman year dorm-mates. I was a bit skeptical about places, such as Goodwill, and avoided thrifting until it became absolutely necessary. What I found in thrifting was that I cared way less about sizes and, instead, hunted for the most unique items. I found that I could find a lot of quality clothing in the most unlikely places and feel chic in my one-of-a-kind, thrifted pieces. Beyond all of this, the best part about thrifting is that it is one the easiest ways to shop sustainably and ethically—reducing your fashion carbon footprint.
5. Shop Local
One of the easiest ways to be a conscious consumer is by shopping local retailers and artisans instead of perusing shopping malls. 9 times out of 10, if it is a local business, it was made in that city by the people who sell it. Ask your local retailers more about who makes their products and how they are manufactured to keep the conversation going.
It’s not always easy to say no to quick fashion. In a high-paced society, it’s often much easier to buy cheaper without stopping to consider who made that dress, if they can afford to take care of themselves or their families, and what the impact on our planet would be by just purchasing a pair of shoes. Following these few tips will help you get a conscious jump-start on a rapidly changing fashion industry where I, for one, hope that ethics over efficiency will begin to thrive.
What are your favorite ethical fashion brands?