Debunking Sustainable Fashion Myths By Lisa Kaari
Source: Instagram (@dmc_embroidery)
Sustainable Fashion is Expensive
Every time I used to stumble upon a new sustainable brand on Instagram, the first thing I would do is check out their “Shop” tab. Why? Was I led to believe that all sustainable fashion was for affluent people. At first, my search proved my hypothesis. However, as I dug deeper, I found that this phenomenon only appears to be true on a surface level.
First of all, why would there be such a price discrepancy between normal clothing and sustainable clothing? The answer is ethics. Sustainable brands pay top dollar for quality materials that lessen their impact on the environment at large. Sustainable brands are also much more likely to pay their workers and staff a living wage. The hard truth we’d rather not notice about the deals at stores like H&M and Forever 21 is that their workers only get paid a measly fraction of the discounted price we see. If that shirt is in the sale bin marked as $2, the person who made that shirt would’ve been paid mere pennies for its production. Consider compensation being a major part of sustainable fashion, and this is usually one of the largest components of the “sticker shock” we feel.
In actuality, sustainable garments don’t all come with a high-end price tag. After quite a few trips down the Instagram rabbit hole, I have found some reasonably priced sustainable retailers to share with you. Alternative Apparel and Richer Poorer are some of my personal favorites for basic wardrobe staples. Lucy & Yak and THE KIT are the best sites to find unconventional designs and colorful prints. If the eco-aesthetic is what makes your heart happy, check out Patagonia!
A key point to remember is that sustainable garments have to be new. Thrifting and swaps are two great ways to snag super unique pieces. Besides, the most sustainable article of clothing is the one already in your wardrobe! Wearing what you own is free and even good for the environment, so get to it!
All Sustainable Lines Cater To One Aesthetic
When most people think of eco-friendly clothing, they imagine bohemian East-Meets-West garments and some birks. While that is certainly a sector of sustainable clothing, that’s not all the industry has to offer. In recent years, sustainable fashion has diversified into about every niche you can think of. Brands like PLANT FACED and Back Beat Co. have proved to be extremely popular streetwear brands. Other brands like People Tree and Cuyana have taken on contemporary takes on timeless classics. Even the dark academia aesthetic has found a home in brands like Everlane, VETTA Capsule, and Olive Clothing. Of course, some niches come at a higher price. That’s the whole nature of a certain aesthetic, but I recommend going with the sustainable option if you are going to dole out a lot of cash. You’ll feel better knowing your coin is going to a company who cares about the clothes they make, the people who wear them, and the workers who make them.
There’s No Sustainable Swimwear, Shoes, Nor Intimates
The myth I’m always the most baffling regards options. Not in terms of aesthetics, but in terms of products. While some of these brands pack a harder punch on the budget. The quality and longevity of the items are a bang for your buck. Here are some of my favorite suppliers for your activity and accessory-specific needs:
Swimwear: SevenSeas Swimwear and Naja
Shoes: Seavees, All Birds, and Intentionally Blank
Intimates: TomboyX, Boody, and Hara The Label
Sustainable Fashion Is Not Size Inclusive
This is the one myth that I can say we can’t fully bust yet. While some brands like Girlfriend Collective and Universal Standard are hitting it out of the park, many other brands are behind the curve. This news is disheartening, yet that doesn’t mean we should just wallow in it. Try pressing your favorite eco-brands about size inclusivity, and maybe they’ll answer. From what I’ve found, sustainable brands are much more likely to listen to their consumers because they care about their products and the effect their products have on society. As far as thrifting, there’s nothing we can do except be more conscious when we’re picking pieces. Next time you’re checking out a piece, ask yourself: do I really need to make this fit oversized for my body? Chances are it’ll look just as good with a traditional fit.