If there is any phrase/term that has been abused, overused or misused in the field of fashion in recent times, it has to be sustainability. From indiscriminately adding the hashtag to any post, to claiming “ethical” production to using “sustainable” products, this phrase is almost as trendy as the very trends it fights against. Mindful fashion advocate and fashion writer/author Sujata Assomull says that there’s so much greenwashing that happens in fashion that you have to be wary. She adds, “The trend of sustainable fashion was already on the rise before this pandemic. This pause at home has made many of us think of our own personal fashion footprint – and do we really need so much stuff?”
Here’s where you start
Sustainable fashion blogger turned entrepreneur Devyani Kapoor insists that this is a good time to take stock and start looking towards sustainability. Her advise? Educate yourself. But she advises against following hashtags as everyone is just using those without any real commitment. Instead follow pages like Fashion Revolution, Fair Trade India and take your cues from there. Kapoor, who has been helming a sustainable fashion pop-up (now online store) Shuffling Suitcases says that even as the sustainable fashion literacy rate stays low, there’s still a lot more awareness. “People are open to reading up and doing their research on brands,” she adds,
One of the main ways to start being sustainable, Kapoor feels, is to ask questions of the brand that you are investing in. Demand transparency. “Most of the new brands in this field are pretty open to questioning as they also want to educate their consumer,” she says.
Read more, shop less
Assomull counts Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas as a must-read for anyone wanting to understand sustainable fashion. Follow the words of designer Vivienne Westwood, “Buy less, choose well and make it last”. Kapoor agrees and adds that sustainable fashion doesn’t mean you start shopping from sustainable brands. “Start your journey with what you have. Assess your closet or shop from your closet, if you will,” Kapoor says. The idea of sustainability begins when you say that what I have is enough for me, so you are not shopping more and hoarding more. As Assomull says, “Be an informed shopper, not an impulse shopper.” Follow sustainability websites, experts like Livia Firth and Clare Press, Instagram handles like @eco-age and even news reports.
Shop your closet
Kapoor says that people need to be curious about what they wear, as they are about what they eat. What you can work on are clothes swaps among family and friends. This helps in increase the life of the garment – and once you have finished the life of a garment, go and buy (from sustainable brands, of course).
Assomull notes, “We have no choice but to rethink your consumption habits.” By extending the lifespan of your clothes by just nin