Sustainable fashion isn't a fad, it's a global movement that's gaining momentum. There are many myths surrounding the topic of sustainable fashion so we thought we better clear some up.
Myth 1: Sustainable fashion is hard to find
This statement may have been true five years ago, but it’s amazing how much has changed since then. There are sustainable fashion boutiques popping up all over the place and even if there aren’t any in your area, almost every shop can also be found online too. There are also many online-only stores making waves in the sustainable fashion sector, just google sustainable fashion and you’ll be inundated with choices.
Second-hand and vintage shopping can take some patience at your local op-shop, but it’s well worth it when you find a gem. Searching eBay’s pre-owned sections is also a great way to shop second-hand, where you can really get specific and find exactly what you want.
Myth 2: Sustainable fashion is ugly and unstylish
Sustainable fashion has come so far since it’s humble, hemp-y, happy-pants beginnings. From luxurious Mongolian cashmere sweaters by Mia Fratino to beautiful organic cotton pieces by Kowtow, sustainable fashion is gorgeous, stylish and timeless. Yes, sustainable fashion can be daggy, but the majority of sustainable fashion labels out there prove that it certainly doesn’t have to be. In comparison, fast fashion is driven by flippant trends and planned obsolescence, which means that stylish and well-fitting now probably isn’t going to mean stylish and well-fitting next year. So yeah, I’m giving this myth a big, fat NOPE!
Myth 3: Sustainable fashion is too expensive
Yes, generally speaking, sustainable fashion is more expensive than unsustainable fashion. But is it too expensive? If a dress costs less than lunch, this probably means it has a hidden cost far worse than money. This hidden cost comes in the form of exploited garment workers and a lack of environmental responsibility.
Consider also the cost per wear of what you are buying. A high-quality, warm and comfy $200 jumper which will last you 10 years will cost you $20 per year. Compared with a poorly-made, not-as-warm or comfortable jumper that costs $40 will probably only last one year before stretching, shrinking or disintegrating in the wash, it really does pay to shop sustainable.
With all of that in mind, there’s no getting around the fact that sustainable fashion can cost more upfront. The good news is that many of the stores that sell sustainable clothing (including ecoHaven) know that cost can be a struggle for many people and offer lay-by - just make sure you ask!
From a sustainability perspective, buying new is not the first option we should be exploring. Is there something you have that could do with some minor repairs to make it wearable? Could you shop for what you need second-hand or vintage? Those one-off pieces can also be rented online, making it a less-expensive and more sustainable way to wear something new to a special occasion.
Myth 4: Sustainable fashion is poor quality
I don’t even know where this myth came from. Sustainable fashion is almost always better quality than fast fashion. Most sustainable fashion companies follow ‘slow fashion’ principles which promote artisanship, design for longevity and favours quality over quantity. Fast fashion is reliant on planned obsolescence, which doesn’t give much incentive to produce quality goods.
With greater access to sustainable fabrics like linen and hemp and the creation of smart fabrics like Cupro (made from up-cycled cotton, resistant to stretching and hypoallergenic) and Tencel (made from wood pulp, is biodegradable, recyclable and wrinkle-free), the quality of sustainable fashion companies is only improving.
Myth 5: Sustainable fashion won’t change the world
It’s easy to think that our personal decisions won’t make a difference to the world at large, but the same argument could be used for any other social, environmental or economic problem. The change has to start somewhere and guess what, it already has.
Fashion is third most polluting industry in the world, with the first two being the oil industry and agriculture. Ouch! I've also read articles claiming it to be the 2nd most polluting industry, but with an air of optimism, I'm going to go with 3rd, which is by no means a statistic to be proud of.
We have the power to change that statistic by choosing to buy less, buy well, repair our clothing and buy sustainable fashion alternatives. As well as being such a gigantic polluter, the fashion industry is also a huge employer, with 57.8 million people in 2014 being employed as fashion manufacture and textile workers. This means that our choices have the potential to improve the lives of many people. By supporting sustainable fashion, we are supporting fair and safe workplaces, free of toxic contaminants and inhumane conditions.
Are there any other fashion myths you'd like us to try and debunk? Leave a comment and we can continue the conversation.