The Care In Labels
Let's talk about labels.
Shopping sustainably can be daunting. I remember when I first decided to quit the high-street (more about that here) one of the biggest questions I would get, along with a look of utter bewilderment, would be "but what can you buy?!". And that is the question! With information at our finger tips it is easier than ever to find out about amazing brands who are socially and environmentally responsible. However, as I've spoken about before the issues surrounding this are complicated so there are many times we won't know if a product is a 'good' or 'bad' choice. Luckily for us, one of the easiest ways we can reduce the negative impact of our fashion fix is as simple as checking clothing care labels before we buy! To simplify all this I look for 2 things on the care label before I make that purchase:
1. FABRIC CONTENT - THINK NATURAL
First up, what are my clothes made of? One of the biggest causes of pollution and wastage is fabric production which uses precious resources and chemicals on an incredible scale. By knowing what our clothes are made of we can avoid the worst fabric offenders and make smarter choices for our planet.
To keep it simple I look for natural fibres - think Silk, Linen, Wool - as these will at least bio-degrade when they eventually make their way to a landfill. Synthetics on the other hand are mostly made from oil and chemicals that will never bio-degrade (think Polyester, Viscose, Nylon). The only exceptions to this simple rule are buying recycled synthetics or plastics as you are helping these materials extend their lifecycle - yay. Also, I try to avoid cotton as it uses extensive amounts of water and pesticides to farm, unless it's organic. There are tons of different fabrics out there with different pro's and con's but don't worry if you're ever in doubt google's got your back.
2. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN - THINK LOCAL
Secondly - Where were my clothes produced? You'll hear me harp on about this a lot but on April 24th 2013 a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1,129 people. It collapsed because of the immense pressure fast-fashion companies are putting on these factories for cheaper faster clothes, so to produce in the cheapest fastest way corners are cut with garment workers exploited and forced to work in dangerous factories. Brands linked to Rana Plaza included Inditex (who own Zara), Mango, Primark, Benneton and many more. Someone, somewhere is paying the price for that high-street 'bargain'.
To keep it simple: look for Made in the US or EU, here there are tougher regulations around working conditions and the treatment of workers. An added bonus is that these countries will also have regulation around polluting and waste management. If the clothes are a steal and Made in India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, etc, it's always best to steer clear. The exception to this simple rule would be brands who are actively working with and supporting the developing countries instead of exploiting them - e.g Kayu, People Tree, Veja, Maiyet, Everlane.
And that's it. Just 2 things to look for that provide so much information in just a glance. For inspiration above I'm wearing some things that passed the label test - a 100% silk blouse with reworked vintage Levi's and one of my favourite bags made in an Italian factory from vegetable dyed leather.
Thanks for reading, and as always I'd love to hear your thoughts below. S x
Silk Top: Reformation // Vintage Jeans: Reformation // Boots: Acne // Cashmere Turtleneck: Old but similar here // Bag: Mansur Gavriel // Silk Handkercheif: Saint Laurent // Rings: Anine Bing - Wwake - Catbird NYC //