A Beginner’s Guide To Sustainable Fashion

If you are like me, you love shopping at op shops, get a kick out of selling your old clothes, and would rather hire a dress than buy one, then you might be well on your way to becoming a sustainable shopper without even knowing it. Give yourself a pat on the back because not only are you saving money but you are also (pause for dramatic effect and insert drumroll) SAVING THE WORLD. I wasn’t kidding about that pat on the back, saving the world is no mean feat.

Sustainable Fashion

I have heard people talking about sustainable fashion for a long time but thought that it meant sacrificing my style and adopting an organic hemp harem pant wearing lifestyle. A lifestyle that I cannot afford and let’s face it, even if I could afford it I definitely couldn’t pull it off. That was until I stumbled across a blog post by Anita Vandyke about the benefits of embracing a ‘no logo’ life. It was unlike anything that I had ever read about sustainable fashion. Rather than suggesting we ditch all of our favourite clothes and abandon our style, Anita refreshingly explains how we can embrace creativity to develop our own sense of style even further.

Anita Vandyke – A Zero Waste Life

Anita is a waste warrior, with a stunning blog dedicated to ‘A Zero Waste Life’, an Instagram account with over 17,000 followers and a book due out in July this year. Oh, and in her spare time, she likes to dabble in a bit of Aeronautical Space because she is an actual rocket scientist. You can go ahead and add her to your #wcw rotation right now because she is one inspirational woman.

Anita Vandyke https://www.anitavandyke.com
Author and rocket scientist Anita Vandyk.

Anita was kind enough to take some time out of blogging/winning the war on waste/rocket scientist-ing, to answer some of our questions about how to make more mindful fashion choices and become a sustainable shopper.

Alex: What does sustainable fashion mean to you? 

Anita: Sustainable fashion to me is about leaving a gentler footprint on the planet using style as the tool. It is about transparency from the start of the supply chain from the way materials are chosen to the labour conditions in which the workers are subjected to. Transparency is the key!

Alex: Where is the best place to start for someone who is wanting to make more mindful fashion purchases? 

Anita: Start by shopping your own wardrobe. Before you begin, you should always consider what you already have. Streamline your style and wardrobe before you buy anything new. Nine times out of ten you’ll find that you are more creative with what you have because you have less choice. In a world of excess, start with minimising your clothing items to curate your style. Trust me, people will notice how stylish you are because you are making more effort with less items!

Sustainable Fashion - Anita Vandyke
“In a world of excess, start with minimising your clothing items to curate your style.”

Alex: Is there anything specific to look out for when purchasing clothes? Are there certain words on the tags to look out for, brands to avoid, preferable fabrics? 

Anita: My only rule is to never buy plastic materials – this includes polyester, nylon etc. Microfibres from washing these plastic materials is one of the biggest micropollutants in our waterways. These particles are ingested by marine life (mistaking it for plankton) and then enter the food chain. Always buy natural materials such as cotton, silk, wool. They feel better on your skin and much better for the planet in the long run!

Alex: I read on your blog that you haven’t bought new clothes in 3 years, which is amazing, but if people aren’t in an area where they have access to amazing op shops or great buy swap sell groups, are there any retailers that you would recommend for new clothes?

Anita: I haven’t bought anything new for over three years, however, my favourite ethical brands include Everlane, Patagonia and People Tree. These brands are vocal about transparency, environmental issues and social issues. For shopping secondhand, I suggest you go to your local markets, try eBay or Gumtree or even organise your own clothes swap with friends!

A Zero Waste Life In Thirty Days by Anita Vandyke
A Zero Waste Life by Anita Vandyke

Anita’s book ‘A Zero Waste Life’ is available to pre-order now from Penguin.

Find Out How Sustainable Your Favourite Brands Are In Seconds

I decided to google some of my go-to brands and was surprised to find that a few of them were anything but sustainable and had some questionable labour conditions. I also found an app that makes finding this information a breeze. The Good On You App rates brands based on the way they impact people, animals and the planet. They can even suggest better brands with a similar style and budget!

The Good On You app is available now on iTunes.
The Good On You app is available now on iTunes.

How To Find The Most Stylish Vintage Clothes

Buy Swap Sell 

As I mentioned in all of the How To Sell Your Stuff posts (because I am obsessed) Buy Swap Sell (BSS) is one of my favourite ways to shop. Do yourself a favour, go and search your favourite brand on Facebook. Almost every brand has a BSS group, I am a member of Witchery, Spellbound, Seed, and Country Road! People post amazing clothes in near new condition at a fraction of the retail price. It’s also a really great way to find out about garage sales.

Markets

As Anita mentioned, markets are a great way to shop sustainably. My favourite vintage market is Suitcase Rummage, I like to go towards the end of the day when people tend to drop their prices in order to get rid of whatever they’ve got left. For super stylish new clothes head to your local Young Designer Markets. Not only will you find quality, one-off pieces but you’ll also be supporting local talent.

Suitcase Rummage Markets are a great way to score cute vintage clothes super cheap.
Suitcase Rummage Markets

Vintage Stores & Op Shops

I have two favourite vintage shops, Camp Hill Antique Centre and Little Sister Cafe. I always look out for things like denim jackets, overalls and leather skirts, quality items that are durable and can stand the test of time. When it comes to op shopping I head straight to Instagram. There are so many awesome ‘Op Shop Insta Gurus’, my favourite is @nevereverpayretail by Hannah Klose. Hannah has amazing style and posts daily about her op shop finds. To find all the best op shops near you head to her blog and check out some of her local lists. If you have absolutely no idea where to start then her post ’10 Commandments Of Opshopping’ is the perfect beginner guide!

Sustainable Fashion - Hannah Klose Never Ever Pay Retail
Never Ever Pay Retail – Hannah Klose in one of her vintage finds.

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Author: Alex Whittington

Alex is a 29-year-old, university student, writer, mother of two, wife of one, big sister of three, coffee addict and music lover. In order to fund her coffee addiction, she has developed a serious selling habit and will auction off anything for a profit. She knows where to find the best bargains and is the queen of getting something for nothing.

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