How to Curate an Ethical Closet
“Think of yourself as a curator instead of a consumer.” -Christine Koh
Working on mindfully curating your closet to be more ethical allows you to step away from contributing to the consumer driven fast fashion world and create a closet filled with clothes that help you look good on the outside, while also feeling good on the inside. Our society has us moving at such a fast pace, making things easily accessible and affordable, resulting in us purchasing more and more stuff that turns into clutter, overwhelms us and causes unnecessary (and even unconscious) stress. With fast fashion being the second most polluting industry in the world (20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles, synthetic fibers take 30 to 200 years to biodegrade and release toxic chemicals into the environment, and the list of nasty goes on and on), it is exciting to see that slow fashion is making a comeback and is in fact trendier than ever.
The slow fashion movement encourages taking time to ensure quality production, providing fair treatment of workers and being mindful of the materials used and how they affect the environment. As consumers, slow fashion promotes slowing down; being more cognizant of the quality of our clothing choices and the amount and rate of which we are consuming. These days, we could all benefit from slowing down and living more mindful lives; so if you love fashion like me and want to dress stylishly without killing the environment then read on for some tips on how to curate your closet to be more ethical.
TIPS TO CURATE YOUR CLOSET TO BE MORE ETHICAL
1. Support sustainable, eco friendly and local brands. Most of these brands won’t be found at Nordstrom, Macy’s or Bloomies- they’re independent and you’ll have to do your research. Search online for brands that promote sustainability either by producing locally, that use organic and natural materials, and are conscious of the fair treatment of those making their clothes, or all of the above! Most ethical brands are proud of the extra steps they take to produce sustainable clothes and will have a section on their site describing their processes. Instagram is also a valuable tool to find brands; use hashtags like #sustainablefashion, #ethicalfashion, or #ecofashion and scroll through to discover the images and brands that resonate with you and your style. I am lucky to live in LA where there are tons of amazing local sustainable brands (which I’ll do a post on someday), but you’ll be sure to find a lot by researching online and on social media. There are some great websites that focus on selling sustainable brands, like Elborne Living and Ethica as well.
2. Quality over quantity. This old saying doesn’t only apply to fashion, but to friendships, work projects, instagram followers, the square footage of your home… quality is far more important than quantity. No doubt we’ve all heard this one before, so now it’s time to take the steps to shop the walk. Buy less and save your money to buy one quality item that will last you for years to come instead of buying 5 tops from H&M that will go out of style the following season. Spending and purchasing this way involves a mindset shift and is a practice of mindfulness and patience to avoid reacting and jumping on each new trend. It can be rewarding once you wear that new sweater that feels so luscious on your skin and can be worn every Winter, instead of that itchy sweater that gives you a rash and goes straight to Goodwill after wearing it once.
3. Buy vintage. Buying vintage is my favorite way to stray away from contributing to mass production. Vintage tends to be easier on the wallet and each item you buy is one of a kind allowing you to be truly unique! There are also brands like Reformation or Christy Dawn that use recycled fabric to make more current styles for their collections; this falls under the sustainable category as well.
4. Host or attend a clothing swap. A swap party with friends is a fun and interactive way to exchange valued but no longer used clothing for new items to refresh your closet. Pick a house to meet at, invite all your friends and make it a fun get together! One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so that old floral shirt you’ve grown tired of may be exactly what one of your friends has been looking for!
5. Take your time. It takes time to build an ethical closet (tbh I’m not even close). I suggest starting with an initial detox of your closet to see where you are at, and then build from there (how to post on this to come). Also know that it’s okay to give into those guilty pleasures and still buy conventional brands every now and again, just do the best you can with the info you have for now, no need to completely overhaul all at once!
As slow fashion is becoming more popular and more sustainable brands are emerging, if we all start to do our part to begin shopping more mindfully, there will be less demand for fast fashion and local/sustainable designers will have more opportunity to flourish and grow. My hope is that in turn ethical production will become the norm, instead of fast fashion that sacrifices integrity for quick money; ultimately leading to the fashion industry aligning with the world’s natural resources and creating a healthier planet filled with happier people.