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Ethical fashion: six steps to sustainably edit your wardrobe

Are you keen to make more sustainable and ethical fashion choices, but overwhelmed by all the jargon about supply chains, manufacturing, and labour conditions? We get it: these are complex issues, and it’s hard to know where to start. Put simply, ethical fashion is about reducing harm to people and the planet (slow fashion and sustainable fashion have similar goals, though the focus is different). If you’d like to do your bit, we’ve broken down a few simple, practical steps you can take to ethically edit your wardrobe.   

Remember, there’s no ‘perfect’ way to shop consciously. Not everyone has the resources to commit to ethical fashion, which is why it’s important to push brands, governments, and corporations to make systemic changes. As individuals, all we can do is the best we can – and that’s okay! Don’t forget to have fun, either. Keeping an ethical wardrobe can inspire you to get super-creative, which is what fashion is all about, anyway.  

1. Shop your own closet 

Don’t feel bad if your internal monolgue is yelling “I have nothing to wear”; we’ve all been there. But the best thing we can do for a more ethical wardrobe is to wear the garments we already have. If we see clothes as beloved and irreplaceable, we can help change a system that’s pressured to produce them cheaply and quickly. There are heaps of inspiring ways to shop your closet, from a capsule wardrobe challenge to super-creative styling (think: layering, accessories, or unexpected print-mixing). 

2. Keep your clothes in tip-top condition

Those fabric care instructions on the tag aren’t just there for fun. If you can make clothes last, you won’t buy new ones. Wash clothes less frequently using cold water, which saves energy and reduces wear and tear (don’t worry, you can keep washing your undies!). On sunny days, skip the dryer – a major culprit when it comes to ruining garments. 

3. Make do and mend

Back in ye olden times, fabric was expensive to produce and precious to even the wealthiest folks. Clothes were re-worn and mended until they were broken down and used as rags, or given new life as beautiful patchwork quilts and garments. Why not embrace that old-school “make do and mend” approach to clothing? Learn how to repair damaged duds (through workshops, free online resources, or books), or upcycle clothes you don’t love. Try your hand at visible mending, which can help you take pride in your wardrobe’s ‘flaws’. 

4. Join the sharing economy

No, you don’t need to hand over your hard-earned cash to enjoy fashion; if you were extra-committed, you could borrow, swap, and ‘swish’ your way to a whole new wardrobe every month. Though clothing swaps can be as low-key as trading items with your mates, you can join bigger events through organisations like The Clothing Exchange

5. Buy and sell secondhand

Why buy new clothes when there are so many pre-loved garments that need forever homes? They’re waiting for you – at op shops, vintage stores, and other people’s closets. Secondhand consignment stores such as Mutual Muse and SWOP allow you to sell clothes in exchange for cash or store credit. Keep up with your favourite Etsy vintage sellers on Instagram, or hunt down your favourite brands on Depop or high-end secondhand marketplace Vestiaire

6. If you have to buy new, buy mindfully

Instead of splurging on super-fancy clothes you’ll wear occasionally, invest in beautiful basics and trans-seasonal pieces that layer easily and last ages (think jackets, jeans, and tees). Think about the cost-per-wear. Do your homework, too, and buy from brands whose production processes align with your values. Directories like Good on You and Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index are great places to start. The companies you might associate with sustainability might not score as highly as you may have thought. And vice-versa, companies you might associate with fast-fashion (*cough* H&M) might actually be leading the way.  There’s no perfectly sustainable or ethical fashion brand, but you can focus on supporting companies who are open about their practices and committed to doing good. 

A friendly reminder that all the financial information contained in this blog is general and doesn’t take into account your personal financial objectives, situation, or needs. It’s important to do your own research and consider getting in touch with a professional adviser to access specific advice tailored to your unique situation. When considering if Verve Super is appropriate for you, please read the PDS and TMD available on our website.

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