Emma’s Style Corner: How to ethically consume fashion

By Emma Ingenohl – 1851 Contributor

With my final semester of school nearly coming to a close, I have been doing a lot of reflecting. I have come to realize two things have remained constant for me throughout the past few years: my passions for both the world of fashion and the planet Earth. 

Protecting the Earth is so important to me, and combining that with my love of fashion is what I hope to do someday. Spreading knowledge about how to ethically consume fashion is a great use of my privilege and my voice to help change the narrative around the industry. I cannot see a better way to close out my time at the 1851 Chronicle than a final style corner on how to ethically consume and source clothing.

Vintage and second-hand clothing is a big part of my personal style not only for sustainability purposes, but also because it means finding one of a kind pieces that help me curate my wardrobe and make it unique. Over the years I have heard countless times others wish to start sourcing clothes second-hand but are unsure of where to start. If you have been looking for tips on how to source fashion pieces more ethically, I will finally be sharing all of my secrets. 

Thrifting- Most widely thought of as intimidating, thrifting is possibly the easiest way to ethically source clothing and the least expensive. Stores like Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, Value Village, etc. exist almost everywhere and generally have low prices and some good finds. My biggest advice when it comes to sourcing at a thrift store is to have patience and to look at as much as you can. The best way to find good pieces is to look at every single item on the rack. As tedious as this may sound, it will pay off in the end when you find that incredible piece.

Buying vintage online- There are lots of websites/applications that are a resale format where individuals can buy and sell used and sometimes new goods. The most popular ones for vintage fashion are Depop, Poshmark, eBay, The RealReal, Etsy, and Mecari. Whether searching for a particular brand or a general search for vintage pantsuits, there are lots of good finds on any resell website. Patience again is a key player in this type of sourcing. Sometimes you may be scrolling through dozens of pages before you find the perfect piece. 

Sustainable brands- There are many clothing brands that produce their clothing ethically and sustainably. Patagonia, Girlfriend Collective, Parade, MaisonCléo, and Prada Re-Nylon are some of my personal favorites. There are also many brands who repurpose and rework clothing items like Frankie Collective. This is probably the most expensive way to ethically source fashion pieces but for those who can afford it, it is a much better alternative to shopping from fast fashion companies. 

Staple and investment pieces- When purchasing new clothes, it is important to consider use and value over time. Staple pieces can be worn over and over again, as well as items that are an investment but will last you a lifetime are sometimes worth buying new. Quality and longevity of wear are other good indicators of whether or not these purchases are worth making. 

To make an effort to source clothing more ethically is a huge accomplishment, and it does not mean you have to be perfect and never buy fast fashion or new fashion pieces. Accessibility is a huge factor in the ability to source clothes sustainably. The key to ethically buying clothes is to avoid overconsumption. The main issue with the fashion industry is the constant need to keep up with the current trends and buy more clothes. By taking small initiatives to consume your fashion ethically, you are contributing to a more sustainable industry and world.

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