So, you’ve made the commitment to shop ethically. Whether you stumbled across the term “slow fashion” though a brand who focuses on sustainability, you saw a documentary about the woes of the fast fashion industry, or you heard about it via word of mouth through a friend or blogger, starting the transition from “fast” to “slow” can be intimidating.
I made “the switch” almost two years ago and in that time, I’ve learned a lot about the ethical fashion industry, as well as how to make it do-able for anyone to shop more consciously. At Simply Liv & Co. one of my passions is showing women how intertwined ethical shopping and intentional living can be. It’s not just for bloggers, influencers, shop owners, or fashion designers. I truly believe that the future of the fashion industry (and the lives of the people who make our clothing) is in the hands of the everyday consumer, and that “voting with your dollar” is as real as the physical clothes on your body right now.
However, it can still be hard to know where to start when you’re staring at a closet full of clothes that don’t inspire you. These five easy steps have been crucial in my own slow fashion journey and are the perfect jumping off point for anyone wanting to make their closet more conscious.
1. Start Slow
It’s called “slow fashion” for a reason. The fast fashion industry thrives on convincing people that they need to constantly consume. Slow fashion, on the other hand, is about supporting brands who use ethical practices and, even though it may cost a bit more up front, investing in pieces that will last you a lifetime, not just a season.
Don’t feel overwhelmed if you don’t know where or how to start, or if the thought of breaking your “normal” shopping routine scares you. For me, starting slowly (not trying to revamp my entire wardrobe ethically overnight) is the only way that it was possible for me to quit fast fashion cold turkey.
Instead of throwing out your current wardrobe and replacing it with all new, ethically made pieces (which may sound appealing, but is both impractical and irresponsible,) replace pieces one at a time. Make notes of gaps that need filled in your closet, and choose your new pieces carefully, ensuring that each new item you add will serve you for years to come.
2. Do Your Research
There are a lot of brands out there who masquerade as ethical but really aren’t. Granted, the words “ethical”, “sustainable”, and “conscious” mean different things to everyone, but there are certain things like fair wages/working environment and eco-friendly fabrics that all brands who are truly ethical should have in common.
It can be disheartening to dig up dirt on brands you thought were more ethical than they actually are, but it’s worth it in the long run to support brands who are truly standing up for values that are important to you.
My biggest tip, if you’re unsure of how to research a brand yourself, is to utilize the people who already have. There are a plethora of bloggers, websites, and businesses whose sole purpose is directing people in the direction of ethical brands. Project Just is a great resource that allows you to search their database of “Just Approved” brands. You can also check out the list on SL&Co of over 120 brands who, I believe, meet the standards an ethical brand should.
3. Detox Your Current Closet
This part is one of my favorites. Detoxing the clothes you already have is an important step in creating a wardrobe you love and feel good about (one of the big reasons to start shopping ethically in the first place).
Although I’m a HUGE advocate for creating a capsule wardrobe to help you define your style and shop with intention, it’s certainly not necessary for shopping ethically. There are many ways to be conscious about what goes in (and out) of your closet.
My biggest tips when detoxing the clothes you currently have to make room for a more ethical closet are as follows:
- If you haven’t worn it in more than six months (or a year, if it’s seasonal,) you don’t need it.
- If you don’t feel GREAT in it you don’t need it.
4. Embrace Second Hand Shopping
One of the easiest, and most affordable, ways to shop ethically is to opt for second hand pieces over new ones. Although it may feel like you’re supporting fast fashion labels when you buy pre-loved pieces, the opposite is actually true. Shockingly, the majority of clothes at thrift stores eventually end up in landfills, so picking up a few quality pieces and giving them new life is just as ethical as buying something new.
5. Stay Inspired
It can feel like a huge step to commit to shopping only from ethical brands or second hand/vintage, but if you surround yourself with information and brands who are doing it right, it suddenly becomes a whole lot easier. Follow bloggers who promote ethical fashion, bookmark lists of slow fashion retailers, and utilize social media and local shops to keep the inspiration going. If you feel a sense of connectedness in your new venture, you’re a lot more likely to stick with it.
Remember, like any lifestyle change, shopping ethically and building a closet you love will take time. Take it slow, and before you know it, you’ll be excited to put on clothes that inspire you and empower others every day.
Olivia is the founder of Simply Liv & Co., an online resource and community meant to inspire women to live slowly and with intention. She shares about ethical fashion brands, capsule wardrobe tips, and practical advice for curating a home, closet and life you love. When she’s not blogging, she can be found — coffee(s) in hand — chasing her two toddlers and dreaming about her next mountain getaway.