Want to make sure your consumer habits are good for your closet, the planet and communities along the fashion supply chain? Here are some tips from a few local fashion revolutionaries who spoke at Venus last month.
Mend instead of spend: In recent years, we’ve bought into - literally and figuratively - the idea of needing that new, trendy item. Clothing consumption rates have increased exponentially, incentivizing overproduction on the part of fast-fashion brands and creating a tremendous amount of textile waste filling our landfills. Recent statistics state the average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing/textiles every year. TIP: (1) Next time you’re looking to spice up your closet, take a garment you haven’t worn for a while to a local seamstress or tailor to see how they can redesign it and (2) Learn some basic sewing techniques so you can sew on a button or patch a hole in your favorite jeans. The Disco Dolls studio in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa offers quarterly “Sew and Chats” with experienced sewers there to guide you.
[PICTURED ABOVE]: Rachel Karioki, founder of Court Bottoms, an environmentally conscious and socially responsible athletic wear line. Taryn Hipwell, founder of Beyond the Label and author of How to Shop for Shi(f)t. Leigh Anne Balzekas, owner and designer of The Disco Dolls Studio, a sustainable boutique and studio. Danielle Ferrari, founder of Valhalla, the first brick and mortar clothing rental membership. Ericka Leigh, founder of Sewn Apart, connecting the dots between art, environment, and fashion.
Rent or Swap vs. Buy: Part of what many people love about shopping is the social aspect. It can be fun to grab some girlfriends and catch up while finding a couple new outfits. This is why clothing swaps might be one of our favorite activities! It’s the best of both worlds… time with friends and new fashion finds! TIP: Renting is another great alternative that reduces textile waste. Valhalla, a membership boutique in Seminole Heights of Tampa, allows you to rent clothing and accessories like library books. As soon as you bring them back, you get more. It really is an unlimited closet for an affordable, monthly flat rate.
Know your materials: Whether your thrifting, swapping, renting or buying new - knowing what your clothes are made of is just as important as the ingredients in your favorite meal. After all, your pores are tiny little mouths that absorb everything you put against your skin. TIP: Some go-to fabrics are tencel, organic cotton and if you have to have something with polyester, make sure it’s recycled polyester. What your clothes are made of should always be listed somewhere on the garment, so start checking those tags! For more details on fabrics, check out the book, “How to Shop for Shi(f)t”.
Do less laundry: Yep, you heard it here first! One easy way to live a more sustainable lifestyle is to do less laundry. Everytime we wash our garments the fibers breakdown resulting in our favorite items not lasting nearly as long as they could if we wore them a few times before dropping them in the washing machine. Also, synthetic materials (hello… polyester!) shed microplastics when washed that find their way into our oceans. TIP: To prevent microplastic pollution, consider buying a GuppyFriend washing bag that will catch the microwaste for you. Other easy adjustments to garment care that make a difference: wash your items in cold water and try to use the dryer as little as possible.
Sustainable brand finder: The majority of brands are behind the curve when it comes to transparency around their supply chain making it difficult for us, as consumers, to feel confident that we’re buying from ethical and sustainable companies. A few innovative folks saw this gap in information and started developing tools to keep us in the know! TIP: First, the ‘Good on You’ app allows you to type in a brand and it spits out a sustainability rating based on a number of criteria. It’s easy and awesome! And, second, the ‘Done Good’ website was founded by two guys who want to create an Amazon equivalent that only carries sustainable brands!
Tell a friend: Help us keep this conversation going by telling a friend about some of the tips you’ve learned. Each one of us making small consumer adjustments can add up to tremendous shifts in the treatment of garment workers, levels of textile waste and microplastic pollution, and investment by fashion houses in innovative approaches to sustainability. TIP: Get involved in your Tampa Bay Fashion Revolution chapter (follow us on Facebook), watch two films about the fashion industry: The True Cost (available on Netflix) and River Blue, and/or check out the book “How to Shop for Shi(f)t”.