When we started transitioning into a more eco-friendly lifestyle, we found very difficult to shop for clothes that would respect our values. See, in most places, there is this mall- culture where you go to the mall to shop, to meet your friends, to entertain the little ones, to just walk because outside is too hot. Most of the shops you find at shopping malls are big fast fashion brands- at least in Dubai. The pricey rental market in big cities doesn’t let independent fashion designers get started in this kind of prime real state property.
So, how and where can we shop for sustainable clothing then?
We have prepared some tips and tricks for you. But first of all, a disclaimer. You are starting a very special journey and it is indeed a journey. Do changes bit a bit and don’t stress if it is not perfect. Eventually, you will reach your destination: a closet with clothes you love and that represent who you are as a person.
WHAT MAKES A GARMENT OR FASHION ITEM SUSTAINABLE?
- The materials
- The way people doing the pieces get paid and treated
- The designs
- The impact
Let’s navigate them!
1. Eco-friendly Materials
1.1 Whenever possible buy natural fibers. Avoid synthetic.
There are so many amazing natural fibers like linen, hemp, cotton, wool, silk, etc … the fact that they are natural means that they will biodegrade. Synthetic fibers are basically plastic turned yarn… but it is plastic and will not decompose. Actually, with friction, they bring another big problem into the picture.. microplastics.
They are big NO-NOs. Just avoid them and if you need to use them, make sure you wash your synthetic items in a guppy bag.
1.2 Look for Organic Fibers
Another step towards sustainability is to buy natural fibers that are grown organically. That means that the plants didn’t use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc… Take into account that those toxins stay within the fiber and eventually you are in touch with them all the time. That is why sensitive skin needs organic fibers. Did you notice that most babies’ clothes are organic? Well, those same organic fibers can be used for adults too.
If you are vegan you might want to avoid wool and silk for example but there are alternatives that are eco-friendly and yet look fantastic. Cupro for example is a by-product of the cotton industry that makes a silky yet 100% cruelty-free fiber. For that reason is called vegan silk.
1.3 Use dead stock or recycled fibers, fabrics, or things!
Yep! Recycling or Upcycling is a good thing to do. Not much of the clothes though get recycled or upcycled. So we need to start getting more conscious about what or who or how can we give a second life to our textiles or actually to pretty much anything. See some examples of our catalog.
From gorgeous dresses made out of recycled coffee bags to beautiful candles made out of recycled oysters, from bottles of plastic to a Kimono, from sitting in the backyard of a furniture factory to glorious bag, oh! and the vintage dress is made out of deadstock fabric from Gucci… The possibilities are endless. We need to open our minds and realize that nothing is really waste. We decided when something becomes “waste”.
1.4 Support innovative materials
There are some awesome materials out there that might change the face of fashion for the better. And you can support them by shopping the sustainable products created with them. We have orange peel scarves, swimwear that will biodegrade with its fabric Amni Soul-Eco (Fluity Co2), shoes, and bags made in wine leather (Vegea), Pineapple leather (Pinatex), or Cacti leather (Deserto). They are improving these materials to make them better but they are already amazing in my humble opinion.
2. The way people doing the pieces get paid and treated
Sorry if when writing about this part, I get heated. It is not acceptable that garment workers are risking their lives working in buildings about to collapse, or are forced to work non-stop with no breaks just because of productivity ratios. It is not fair that after working 12 hours, they can barely survive on their salaries.
I want to believe that we- as a society- are better than all this. We should not allow this type of modern slavery to happen in this day and age. It is high time we learned something from what happened at the Rana Plaza and held brands & manufacturers accountable.
If the t-shirt you are buying is such a bargain, probably is because they are not paying enough to their workers. Today you are on one side of the chain- you are the buyer-, how would you feel if you suddenly are on the other side?- the maker.
3. The designs
Yep! Design is quite important when working in sustainability. When you as a designer are starting to conceive your collection think of ways to maximize the materials you are going to use. This way you will reduce waste.
3.1 Zero waste design
When you use Zero waste design principles you try to work the patterns in a way that there is no waste. They will place the different pattern pieces in a jigsaw-like arrangement and use creative pattern cutting. But there are other ways, like whole garment knitting, 3D printing, collaborative supply chains, and digital sampling. Don’t miss the conversation we had about Digital Fashion and CLO during this last Fashion Revolution Week.
You might think oh! so there is not that much waste! Well, think about yarn waste, the waste from cutting out patterns, the waste from overproduction, the post-consumer waste… It adds up, right? We need to find ways to use that “waste” and incorporate it into a circular model.
We have at our showroom very cute zero waste dresses and tops. Feel free to ask for them via chat or WhatsApp, as they are normally 1 or 2 pieces of each so they don’t make it to the website.
3.2 Get creative and do accessories with your leftovers!
Scrunchies, scarves, belts, masks or even the bags that you will give your clients when they purchase… The sky is the limit. It is a matter of getting creative and trying to minimize the amount of waste.
3.3 Avoid trends, buy classic timeless designs
The absolutely most sustainable thing you can do, when it comes to shopping for clothing is to buy an item and wear it as frequently as possible, for as long as possible. That is why we might go for evergreen designs and prints.
That doesn’t mean that sustainable fashion is boring. Far from that! But it is just that we always try to find at least 4-5 ways to style it so that we can keep the 30-wears rule. You don’t know what that is? Well, basically before we buy something we think of how many times we will be wearing it and we try to make sure whatever it is we are able to wear it at least 30 times. In reality, it is not that difficult if you go with things that suit you, your body type, and your lifestyle.
We are not against trends as long as you love them so much that you will keep using them. If you love pineapple prints, keep on wearing them when unicorns are in. Otherwise, stick to what you really love.
And if you have no clue what works well with your body type, check out our Experiences catalog and get the assistance of a stylist to understand the best colors and shapes for you!
3.4 Buy the best quality you can afford
Following the same logic as with trends, go for items that will last longer. That translates into buying the highest quality product you can afford. Think about it this way. It takes a similar amount of resources to make a garment that is glued together and will fall apart in the wash as it does to make a hand-sewn garment that is built to last.
Quality doesn’t mean necessarily buying Luxury. Plenty of times we are “buying” a status when we are buying certain luxury brands. Don’t trade quality for a flashy logo.
3.5 Circular Design
This one goes for the designers out there. When designing think about the whole lifecycle of the product. Eventually, it might need to turn into something else through recycling. Textiles are really difficult to recycle. For example, mixed fabrics – polyester with cotton- can not be recycled at the moment. Having your garment using only one material, and having detachable pieces if they are using other materials help a lot when recycling.
4. The impact
4.1 Buy local when possible
It supports your local economy, helps create communities, and reduces the environmental impact. Shipping emissions are bad for the environment and returns are even worse. That is why we try always to confirm the sizes and explain how they run in the descriptions. We even do videos to show how the fit goes!
If you have any questions when ordering, we are here to help. Our customers so far have been a great help to reduce the come and go’s emissions. They care as much as we do! #happymoment
4.2 Support independent fashion designers and artisans
We live in a global world, but there are so many people that don’t want to be part of big corporations’ businesses. In terms of fashion, we are outliers and we really don’t want to go with the herd. Buying fast fashion and seeing every other girl wearing the same, feels like a uniform.
For us, garments are much more than just clothes. They have a story and we dig to learn the story, the inspiration, the people doing the garment, why the designer choose this and not that… the connection with the pieces is so real. You don’t get any of that with fast fashion.
There are other business models that are better than fast fashion. Like slow fashion (producing small batches), or ultra slow fashion (with made-to-order) for example. These models reduce the number of items produced, getting closer to the real demand for the products, hence reducing waste.
4.3 Buy second-hand clothes
If you are in Dubai visit Thrift for Good or Retold.. in these two places you can find gems. For children, we recommend Yallah Kids.
We support them because they sell items that they have picked up here. So they circulate within the same market. But wanted to make a note on “donating”.
We know you might think that donating your old clothes helps mitigate the effects and save the planet and it is partially true. Clothing donation involves a lot of resources, like industrial chemical-based cleaning and if going to some other country, additional shipping.
Wherever it reaches, it will have an impact. A large percentage of donated clothes are not great and still eventually end up in landfills. The fact of having these clothing inundating the market might put out of business traditional tailors. This I have seen in Africa and it is really sad.
That is why we like Thrift for Good. They sell the clothes within the market, raise funds, and with that money do projects in Africa for the ones in need. They don’t displace goods or jobs.
4.4 Mend, Fix and Alter whenever necessary
One of the biggest reasons people throw out their clothes is because they don’t fit or they have some button off or need a little stitching. Get them fixed and get them back in use! They deserve it!
We can help and support you in case you are needing a hand.
WHERE CAN WE FIND & SHOP FOR SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING?
Here! Of course! At Goshopia we curate the best slow, sustainable, and socially responsible fashion. And we also offer styling advice, so don’t hesitate to reach out and let us dress you head to toe in an amazing eco-conscious fashion.
Have any questions? Send us a message! This is is our Whatsapp and you have the chat right here on the page.