If I tell you that 10.5 million tons of clothing go to landfills every year in US alone and that the textile industry is one of the biggest water polluters in the world, second only to agriculture. Would it change the way you shop? The stats are true. The world bank estimates that almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment of dyeing textiles. These stats are for textiles only, not accounting our other favourite fashion items such as purses, shoes, and other accessories. These daunting facts force us to rethink our grand ambition to acquire all that is on our wish list this season, doesn't it? If it is a fashion trend to be environmentally conscious, it would be the best trend ever to be popularized. It should be ingrained in the fashion bible (if there ever was one?) as the number one style principle to follow...don't you think? You may think being environmental makes a boring wardrobe full of linen blouses and pants, but it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, the combination of being a smart shopper and having a sharp sense for style might just make you fashionably environmental! In fact, some well known principles to having real style may just make that environmental difference, if you follow them!
Like many others, I am aware that it is good for the environment to recycle, to drive less, or to eat less meat, but I never really gave much thought about the link between being environmentally friendly and being a fashionista.
Let's take some time to give it some thought, shall we?
Like everything else, whatever we use to produce fashion pieces, leather, zippers, feathers, so on and so forth, is extracted out of mother earth. When we are bombarded everyday by the fashion industry with what we "must" buy from all the angles they can get to us, keep in mind that over-consuming is NEVER good for the environment. I care about our earth, but I know I am not nearly as dedicated as the real environmentalists. For me, to enjoy fashion while, at the same time, be accountable for our mother earth, I have come up with some practical suggestions to follow when making fashion choices.
Every season, and pre-season and sometimes pre-pre-season, the fashion industry feeds us with all kinds of beautifully packaged styles that would make us look just the coolest and chic-est version of ourselves. One season, you are bringing out the rockstar in you when you wear studs. The next season, you are becoming the adventurous heroine that you've always wanted to be when you put on that ethnic print poncho made of Angora wool. I have to admit, they do the trick for me like magic! Having so many best versions of myself has definitely made my closet look very exciting but also very confusing, almost like a person with an identity crisis. One way to be fashionably environmental is to know yourself. Know what works best for you and stick to it. As the almost cliche quote by the queen of fashion Coco Chanel goes: "Fashion fades, only style remains.". When you have a sharp sense of what your style is, you are less likely to buy everything the fashion editors tell you to buy. Of course, sometimes we just can't resist the urge of trying something different. Instead, get a piece or two...or just accessorize. And all the more appreciation to those who make their own staple statements of who they are in all seasons - Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld?
Buy the best you can afford
Love me or hate me. I love to quote Oscar Wilde to fuel my vanity: "I have the simplest of taste, I am always satisfied with the best." It turns out, this simplest taste could greatly reduce consumption. For example, instead of getting a new luggage every 2, 3 years, invest in the best quality that you can afford, and sometimes they really last a life time. For Louis Vuitton luggages, it's generations. Even when they do retire as a functional luggage, they make great vintage decor pieces you can pass down to your kids. Ever heard of Cradle-to-Cradle?
Choose natural fibre over man-made fibre
Remember that scene in The Devil wears Prada when Stanley made a joke about Andy's sweater, "I'm sure it has a lot of polyester in it?" Yes, choose natural fibre over manmade, for comfort and luxury. It is also less harmful for the environment. Man-made fibres require much higher energy use and produce much higher GHG (green house gas) than natural fibres. With wool being a special case, where although it emits less GHG, it creates methane emissions, a common problem with any kind of animal farming. So do keep in mind when you are picking a sweater for the winter. Don't compromise on quality and style, so you don't have to buy more than what you need.
Vintage is fashion's best answer to recycling and repurposing. If you have lived long enough, you will know that even the most hideous fashion trends come back. While we were still making fun of our disastrous fashion moments in the 80s, it creeped back. Even if it doesn't come back, you can always repurpose a vintage piece. Find a good tailor, a professional cleaner, and a good shoe smith, you will witness the wonders they can do to give new life to vintage items. Some people really need to have the best accountant, lawyer, and banker in place to go to bed in peace. For me, the best tailor, cleaner and shoe smith are the equivalent. Therefore, reconsider your mother's offer to pass you her favourite Escada jacket and skirt sets. Alter them to your preferable cut, mix and match them differently, you may be surprised how stunning and modern they will look on you. Escada's glory days may be gone, but with a little update, it can still shine like it used to!