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On Trend: Tips for Building a Conscious Wardrobe That's Both Fashionable and Sustainable

Unveil the perfect blend of fashion and sustainability, as we guide you through the art of building a conscious wardrobe that's both chic, ethical and planet friendly.

Are you ready to make a statement with your style choices while contributing to a greener future?

As the demand for conscious fashion continues to rise, many of us already embrace the intersection of fashion and sustainability, positively impacting every outfit choice. We can create a future where style and sustainability go hand in hand through ethical fashion choices.

Let's take those small steps, making a big impact together.

Sustainable Fashion

Understanding sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion embraces practices prioritising the environment, ethics, and long-term viability. When we delve into fast fashion, its detrimental environmental and social impacts are exposed.

Here are some of the challenges faced by the fashion industry in general:

  1. Environmental impact: The fashion industry significantly contributes to worldwide climate change and ecological damage. It is responsible for around 10% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, is a significant contributor to global wastewater, microplastics that end up in the ocean annually, and produces 1.2 million metric tons of CO2 each year[1]. The fashion industry uses more energy than the shipping and aviation industries combined[2].

  2. Resource consumption and waste: Waste occurs at all stages of a garment's lifecycle from the upstream value chain to transport, retail, product use, and end of use.

  3. Social and labour issues: The apparel industry has been linked to various social and labour abuses, including low wages, poor working conditions, and exploitation of workers, including modern slavery. KnowTheChain's 2021 report found allegations of forced labour were found in 54% of the examined supply chains[3].

Please take nothing but pictures leave nothing but footprints

Image by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

But don't lose hope! The rise of conscious consumerism is empowering individuals like never before. By making informed choices, we can make a positive impact. Let's look at some of the things we can do.

Assessing your current wardrobe

In a recent talk session hosted by the GreenPush Community, Biek Speijk, a Netherlands-born, Singapore-based fashion designer and wardrobe editor, shared insights on creating an ethical and enjoyable wardrobe.

Biek emphasised the importance of understanding how clothes are made and focusing on quality designs and repair. Biek shared the concept of "inner circle" of your wardrobe, which consists of three categories: Core (most frequently worn clothes), Essentials (versatile and curated building blocks), and Accents (less versatile, beloved items worn less frequently).

Biek's mission is to help individuals become the best version of themselves through the art of fashion while promoting ethical and sustainable choices.

Creating a sustainable wardrobe starts with taking inventory of your existing clothing. Assess each item, considering quality, durability, and use frequency to understand your wardrobe's current state. Look at what you already have and think about how you can wear it differently or accessorise it.

Next, identify sustainable and unsustainable pieces.

Sustainable clothing is made from environmentally friendly materials and produced ethically, while unsustainable pieces may harm the environment or exploit workers. Consume less by reusing what you already own, even if it is fast fashion.

Terms like “eco-design” or “conscious” does not mean it’s positive for the environment or garment workers; these terms may be used by brands to confuse customers.

Decide what to keep, repurpose, or donate. Keep items that align with your values and have a purpose in your wardrobe. Repurpose clothing that no longer fits or suits your style, and donate items no longer helpful to thrift stores or people you know, preventing them from ending up in landfills.

Wherever possible, try to avoid buying more. Consuming less has far more sustainability benefits.

Before you buy an item of clothing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need this?

  • Do I have something similar already?

  • Will it fit into my current wardrobe?

  • What is the quality and durability of the item?

  • Is it ethically and sustainably produced?

  • Will I wear it often?

  • Can I find it second-hand or borrow it?

For one-off occasions or specific events, find alternatives to buying such as borrowing from a friend, attending a clothes swap event or renting pieces[13]. Pass on clothing you no longer wear to friends and family so everyone has some new options to wear.

Clothing on a rack

Exploring sustainable fabrics

Sustainable fabrics like organic cotton may offer planet-friendly alternatives to conventional textiles. These materials can have a lower environmental impact, but it depends on how they are produced. It is good to be wary of recycled fabrics such as recycled polyester as these still release microplastics.

It is worth researching any new brands before buying to check their green credentials. Consider the following when selecting clothing:

  1. Blended materials like polyester/cotton make recycling challenging due to the difficulty in separating fibres. Choose items made from a single material for easier recycling and reduced waste.

  2. Synthetic fibres (polyester, acrylic, nylon and elastane) contribute to microplastic pollution when washed, but efforts like improved filters and Microfibre laundry bag help address this.

  3. Artificial fibres (Tencel /lyocell, viscose or artificial leather) are naturally derived materials that have been highly processed. It’s important to consider certifications and the overall supply chain to ensure responsible sourcing and manufacturing practices.

  4. Natural fibres - Bamboo is sustainable due to its fast growth, minimal water requirements, and antimicrobial properties. Look for bamboo fabrics produced with closed-loop processes as the sustainability of the fabric depends on the manufacturing process. Cotton cultivation requires significant water resources and pesticide usage which can lead to illnesses. But organic and regenerative farming methods are emerging to minimize water usage and chemical inputs. Look for certifications or consider recycled cotton.

Researching sustainable fashion brands

To find sustainable brands that align with your style, look for certifications like Fair Trade, GOTS, or B Corp, and research their manufacturing processes and materials. Utilise resources and platforms like Good On You to discover sustainable fashion options and stay informed about industry developments.

Also look for closed-loop production, a process where materials used in production can be reused, and any post-consumer waste is recollected and repurposed to start the process again.

Some of Singapore's best sustainable fashion brands are listed have been listed in the GreenPush Community under the fashion category.

Embracing slow fashion

Slow fashion is a movement that advocates for ethical production, high-quality garments, and conscious consumption. Its benefits include reduced environmental impact, support for fair labour practices, and long-lasting wardrobe pieces.

To embrace slow fashion, prioritise quality over quantity when making fashion choices, focusing on craftsmanship and durability. Invest in timeless pieces and versatile staples that can be mixed and matched, creating a curated wardrobe that transcends seasonal trends.

Little black dress on a hanger

Image by Unsplash

More Tips for Sustainable Fashion

Second-hand shopping: here are some examples of great thrift stores:

  • ­ Vinted (UK)

  • ­ Threadlightly (Singapore)

  • ­ Vestiaire Collective (Singapore)

  • ­ Fashion pulpit (Singapore)

  • ­ Swapaholic (Singapore)

  • ­ Cloop (Singapore)

  • ­ Refash (Singapore)

Reuse and repair: keep a needle and thread handy so you can repair your old clothing. Being able to extend the life of your clothes will enable you to enjoy them for longer and buy less.

Extending the lifespan of your clothes: Follow care instructions, use gentle detergents, and repair clothes instead of discarding them. Practice mindful consumption by buying less and selecting quality pieces.

Mixing and matching for versatility: Create a versatile wardrobe with items that can be mixed and matched, like neutral colours and classic silhouettes. Build a capsule wardrobe with essential pieces and accessorize for different occasions.

Supporting local and artisanal fashion: when you do buy new pieces, attend craft fairs, visit boutiques, and follow local designers on social media. Support local designers by purchasing their products and promoting their work. Discover unique sustainable fashion pieces with cultural significance by learning about traditional techniques and materials.

Useful apps and websites

  • GreenPush Community is a great resource for finding more sustainable fashion resources.

  • Good On You offers sustainable fashion brand ratings, wardrobe tips, and industry news, empowering users to choose an ethical wardrobe.

  • DoneGood connects users to ethically sourced and sustainable fashion brands, providing a variety of clothing, accessories, and home goods with positive impacts.

  • Retycle: is a Singapore-based platform, that specializes in high-quality, second-hand children's clothing, promoting circular fashion and reducing textile waste for eco-conscious parents.

  • thredUp is an online consignment and thrift store where you can buy and sell high-quality second-hand clothes for Women & Children.

  • Carousell: everyone's favourite app for sourcing second-hand items in Singapore.

Refill your reusable water bottle

Image by Canva

Creating a fashionable and sustainable wardrobe is a powerful step towards a responsible future. We can positively impact the industry and environment by evaluating our wardrobes, championing eco-friendly brands, and embracing slow fashion.

Let's embark on the sustainable fashion journey together, one eco-conscious step at a time!

References and Further Reading

[1] Rosenbaum, E. (2021) Why Fashion Needs to Be More Sustainable. State of the Planet, Earth Institute, Columbia University.

[3] KnowTheChain. (2021) 2021 Apparel and Footwear Benchmark Report.

[4] The Eco Hub. (n.d.). 10 Sustainability Apps That Will Help You Live A More Eco-Friendly Life.

[5] Ellen Macarthur Foundation. (2017) A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion's future

[7] Rosenbaum, E. (2021) Why Fashion Needs to Be More Sustainable. State of the Planet, Earth Institute, Columbia University.

[8] Ellen Macarthur Foundation. (2017) A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion's future

[11] The Honeycombers. (n.d.). 26 best sustainable fashion brands in Singapore.

[13] The Honeycombers. (n.d.). Rent dresses in Singapore: Online rental stores.

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