Responsible Consumerism in Fashion

By Be Quality | Comments: 0 | June 5, 2020

Today I write about the Responsible Consumerism in Fashion. Eventhough this topic is focused on fashion, that is where I have more information, this can be applied to any other sector.

I will approach this subject in a different format, answering 4 questions.

1. Is Responsible Consumerism on fashion or is it a social change?

Certainly, I think it is a social permanent change. Today we all have higher access to information. And we are getting more aware of the impact of our choices.

Thanks also to many organisations working to bring more awareness to consumers about the dreadful working conditions and the pollution the fashion industry creates, like Fashion Revolution, Clean Clothes Campaign, Greenpeace, etc.

The big fashion groups from luxury to mass production, lead the fashion worldwide, and have a strong communication power that guides our buying behaviour.  In many ways these companies are joining the Ethical & Sustainable production process,  as to be ‘part of the sustainable trend’. However, still it is in a low percentage of the products they sell: their business model is based on other parameters that sometimes are not coherent with sustainability.  For many of them I guess they think (and hope) it is a temporary trend.

In fact, some days ago I read about a fastfashion brand which launched their ‘sustainable collection’ : 2 articles for men & 2 articles for women with organic cotton and recycled polyester. In short, these 4 garments are equivalent to 1% of the articles they offer in one season. As we may see, the shift to a sustainable model cannot happen in short time for these kind of companies. And maybe they might not be able to shift to a completely sustainable brand. These companies today have at least the 90% of the marketshare on fashion.

There are new small companies founded on Respect towards the planet and the workers, as an alternative to the fast fashion world.  They are still a niche market, not known for many or at reach of few consumers. These small companies still don’t reach more than 10% of the market. They don’t have the financial capacity to make big advertising campaigns to be noticed by consumers. But are very determined on their mission!

My wish and effort is that in fashion the Ethical & Sustainable products reach at least 70% of the market.

2.  What does it mean to consume in a responsible way?

For me, consuming in a responsible way means to buy only things you need, limiting and reducing the ‘emotional buying’, and choose articles that you know in some way have been produced in a responsible way.

It’s in our hands:

When we choose a product of high quality, therefore we are able to use this article twice, 3 times longer, so at midterm, this means we spend less.

If a single article seems to have a higher cost compared to other similar articles, there is always a reason why. On certain brands (not all), the fact that you pay more means that the people producing that article has been payed fairly, and/or the quality of the raw materials are higher, and/or the pollution this article creates is far less than the ‘low cost product’. For other brands it might just be a higher presence on the fashion magazines, paying expensive models, etc…

Our choices on fashion might change after we understand what’s happening behind the scenes of many brands we like.

We may start to create new habits, like finding out new brands or companies that are based on a sustainable supply chain. This can be done online in forums, pages dedicated to sustainable fashion, visiting Ethical & Sustainable trade shows. Another thing we can do is read more about our favourite brands, to understand if they have our same values.

I know this takes time and we not necessarily have a lot of free time. What I do is one cathegory at the time. Maybe, starting by the articles I need to buy soon, or the ones I buy more often. Once I have gathered all the information I need to make up my mind on that cathegory, I start with another one. On this process I am discovering very interesting things about the brands, the processes, the people involved, how they work, the raw materials, etc…

Remember that each time we choose to buy a certain brand or product, we are sponsoring & promoting the system behind the product. We have a positive impact each time we buy one product, knowing they are coherent with our values.

3.  How slowing down consumption can improve our quality of life?

Many of us are FULL of objects at home, specially our wardrobes. Maybe we have a FULL day, and are overwhelmed of this frenetic life between work, social life, housekeeping, etc. And have no free time or have too much noise to listen inside of us, of the things that are really important for our wellness.

Some psycological studies showed that comparing to old generations, we are filled by objects, but are less happier, and having many behavioral disorders as depression at many levels, shopping addiction, fashion victimism, that make us more vulnerable.

Consequently, Responsible Consumerism in Fashion lead us to Slow down, and this in general means to choose, based on our values and the things that are important for us. And not to follow the mainstream.

By doing so, we become free from the consumerism system we are all part of.  This gives us the space to get in contact with whom we really are, understanding what makes us good longterm.  And to express freely who we are, breaking the stereotypes the society imposes us.  Someone I know would say: to let shine our inner light.

Slowing down allow us to taste, enjoy and feel the things we do and the objects we have. It helps us to give a value to all of them. And as a consequence it helps us to build quality human relations that fill our heart.

So the answer to this question is a big Yes!

4.  Suggestions to live and consume in a responsible way:

Responsible Consumerism in Fashion is a lifestyle, here I list some options you can integrate on your daily life. Even one at the time is a good conquer.

  • Each time you are in front of a product you want to buy ask yourself:
    • do I really need it? 
    • how was it produced? Where? Who made this product?
  • Follow one of the associations dedicated to bring awareness on their social media Fashion Revolution, Clean Clothes Campaign, Greenpeace, Remake Our World, etc.
  • Join a sustainable consumer group, forum, blog, where you can exchange information.
  • Choose ethical, organic, fairtrade and sustainable products as much as possible.
  • Verify on the brands’ websites their mission, their ‘about us’ pages, where you can see which are their ‘reasons why’ and how they work.
  • Take a look also to the pubblications on the brand’s social media: what do they talk about? Only fashion?
  • See how many collections they make in a year. Probably, if the do more than 4, maybe sustainability is not their priority.
  • Ask directly the brand. Not all the brands can afford to be certified, as this is a costly process. Still they work in completely respect of workers and the environment. And from the other side there are many brands that may have some certification labels on some articles or all, but still are not completely sustainable. In our case we are not certified as a brand, but all our suppliers are certified in both Social Responsibility and Organic Cotton aspects .

Let us know what do you think about it and if you can suggest any other ideas of how to have a more responsible way when consuming fashion or other products, please write it on the comments.

Be the Change you Want to See.

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