Last spring, Ford Bowden and I were featured in Redress Raleigh’s 2013 Spring Eco-Fashion Show. At the time Ford and I applied to be two of these “hardcore” designers I was a first semester freshman fashion student who didn’t know anything about designing responsibly. I had doubts about how the parameters of sustainability would affect my design aesthetic. I felt like eco-fashion would be too expensive and restrictive to design. But I was wrong; our collection was the most exciting and creative project I had ever executed! And if in a matter of months I could change my vision and create simple ways to produce more sustainably, then absolutely anyone can take simple steps towards making more educated purchasing choices for their apparel.
Next time you’re out and about shopping, use this simple criteria to decide which new piece you’ll be bringing home to meet your closet:
1. Fiber Content
Natural fibers tend to be more environmentally friendly. As you read the tag pay close attention to the fiber content and choose garments produced from cotton, silk, hemp, linen and/or wools versus synthetics like polyester. Production of synthetic filaments involves toxic chemicals and dyeing synthetic filaments requires more processing than dyeing natural fibers.
- Go the extra mile: Go for organically grown natural fibers! This means no pesticides and toxic chemicals were used in growing the fibers.
2. Know the Product’s Origin
Read the tag and notice where the product was made -- think about the distance it traveled and the energy it consumed on its journey. Make an effort to purchase brands that have “Made in the USA” products which require less transportation and help boost our economy. Another label you want to consider is “fair trade” which notes that the product was made by workers who been treated fairly -- they have safe working environment and are getting paid livable wages.
- Go the extra mile: Patronize boutiques that carry collections from local designers! You’ll enjoy your limited edition garment or one-of-a-kind bespoke look, and by spending your money at local small business you’re contributing to your local economy. (Psst, visit Pop Shop at North Hills this August; we’re featuring several local designers all in one pop up shop!)
3. Shop Thrift, Vintage, and Consignment
Visiting any of these stores will add character to your style and might save you a few extra bucks! Your new finds are more likely to be something unique that no one else has AND you’ll feel empowered by your environmentally conscious buying decision.
- Go the extra mile: Host a clothing swap with your friends or visit one of Redress Raleigh’s to switch out your unwanted apparel. Schedule an appointment to consign your gently worn clothes, shoes, and accessories for a little extra cash.