See your wardrobe for what it truly is
Embarking on a slow fashion journey hasn’t been easy for me. First, I had to give up the notion that I could have multiple pieces of clothing on a small budget. Secondly, I had to curb my shopping habit in order to be able to afford sustainable and therefore better quality clothing.
I’ll be honest with you: it’s been a struggle for me seeing every other woman I know buy pretty dresses and other items of clothing online for a mere RM150 or RM200. However, I’m also a stubborn creature; once I set my mind on something I go all the way. And I’ve set my mind on slow fashion.
Having said that, I had no clue as to how to begin my sustainable fashion journey. I reckoned the first thing I should do before setting a budget aside for new clothing, would be to research the brands I already supported. Who knows, I might find one that was still reasonably affordable and sustainable/ethical at the same time?
I began by revisiting the website of the Ethical Fashion Forum and found a huge directory of brands and designers who are sustainable. While this was useful, I found it a little overwhelming. I decided to bookmark the directory link to revisit at a later date.
A couple of days later, I was browsing ethical fashion blogs when I came across a link to Project JUST, a website that evaluates the ethical practices of popular fashion brands. There are a total of 75 brands on the site, many which are available here in Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia. I recognised brands that I had ‘worshiped’ in the past, such as H&M, Forever 21, Mango, Old Navy, Topshop, Zara and Uniqlo.
I was curious as to whether any of these brands were sustainable and/or ethical. I clicked on each brand to read more about it. Needless to say, not one of these brands was truly transparent about its supply chains, or had a publicly-available environmental code of conduct. The realisation left me angry and yes, a little guilty for having supported them in the past.
Now that I had done some research, I realised that I would soon have to develop a strategy to create a more sustainable wardrobe. After mulling over this for a day, I decided on a four-step process:
1) Get the wardrobe basics sorted.
My biggest problem was that my closet was overflowing with clothes, yet I frequently complained that I had nothing to wear. Rather than purchase more clothes, I decided that I would re-evaluate my wardrobe first.
So I got on the Internet again and searched for how-to articles on wardrobe essentials. Here are some of the more practical ones I found suitable for an Asia-based audience. Given that our weather is different from those in Western countries, I suggest that some of you skip the outerwear that is not necessary:
2) Identify what you still need and what you no longer need.
After sorting through my wardrobe, I realised that I had many clothes that either didn’t fit me anymore, or that couldn’t match the rest of my wardrobe. So I set some pieces aside for a future clothes swap session, while the others were donated to a charity.
3) Host a clothes swap with friends and like-minded people.
I’ve decided to do this at a later date, as I want to try out the second-hand shops first, but I highly recommend it if you have plenty of excess clothing still in good condition, but that you want to get rid of.
4) Buy the rest at a second-hand shop.
A lot of people I know in Western countries shop for clothes at second-hand or thrift stores and often come away with quality pieces of clothing. During the coming weekend, I will be shopping for two basic pieces: a black skirt and a classic blouse, with a budget of RM200. I will be targeting the second-hand shops at Amcorp Mall. This is how I will begin my journey with slow fashion.
Stay tuned for more tales of my slow fashion adventures!