Sustainable fashion: 5 ways to shop sustainably in 2019 September 23, 2019 13:07

Every year, eight billion pieces of clothing are consumed. As a global economy, we are buying (and discarding) apparel at a faster rate than ever before. At MADI Apparel, we believe that fashion shouldn’t be about acquiring more clothes. It should be about choosing well-made pieces that make a difference. Life is all about quality over quantity, right?

At MADI Apparel, we adhere to the highest standards when it comes to sustainability in our fashion collection. From pre-production to post, we want to change the fashion industry from the ground up through sustainable fashion practices.

Being a conscious consumer is not only about Meatless Mondays or ditching the plastic straws. Sustainable fashion is an eco-friendly, slow fashion movement that aims to change the standard when it comes to clothing. 

What is sustainable fashion? 

Sustainable fashion goes far beyond organic or eco-friendly. There are two important elements to the sustainable fashion movement.

The first part of sustainable fashion is the creation of clothing and textiles using environmentally-friendly ways, including reusable materials or eco-friendly fabrics like bamboo fabric that are less harmful to our environment. Low-waste fashion includes reducing, reusing, and recycling as much as possible, while also choosing better materials that last longer to begin with. Our long-lasting lace, bamboo and modal fabrics can be washed and worn for years longer than competitors. We've tested a few pairs of our beta underwear styles - that were produced in 2012 - by washing and drying them over 200 times. They show hardly any wear, zero holes and are each still very wearable.

The second part of sustainable fashion is dedicated to how the clothes are made. Not only should the materials be low-impact, the production process should be too. The men and women who create sustainable fashion pieces should be paid a fair and living wage. This is also known as fair trade clothing or ethical clothing. We ethically source all fabrics we use to ensure the production facilities are sweatshop-free and abiding by sustainable and ethical practices. Many of our fabrics are certified organic.

Fast fashion vs. slow fashion 

Fast fashion is what many corporate clothing brands produce. These companies produce pieces and looks that are popular during fashion week and on social media and recreate them in massive quantities at a much more affordable price, typically using lower quality materials to meet the price point. It capitalizes on consumers desire to wear hot fashion and fit in with others by wearing the exact same clothes as others across the nation. Consumers quickly become tired and bored of fast fashion looks, causing them to throw pieces in the landfill after just a few occasions of wearing.

Slow fashion is clothing that is dedicated to longevity. Whether that means using materials that are built to last or styles that are staples throughout every season, slow fashion encourages better clothing practices and a more streamlined, long-lasting wardrobe. Our products not only literally last for years beyond many of our competitors', but additionally, our ethical basics line is thoughtfully designed by our founder with the intention that our customers will keep our pieces in their closet for years without tiring of them. Our pieces are meant to last, to be staples that you can't live without and are meant be worn to bed or out.

Sustainable fashion brands are the most likely to utilize slow fashion practices. Because slow fashion brands promote quality, longevity and ethical production standards, the pieces are typically more expensive. But this also allows for better labor practices, like paying fair wages and working in comfortable and safe working environments.

How to shop sustainably

Shopping for clothes can already be a stressful process, and by adding sustainability standards into the mix, it can become a much more complicated experience.

Here are five ways you can shop more sustainably:

  • Do your research. Companies that offer zero-waste clothing or eco-friendly clothing often are very open and transparent about their practices and mission. Look for information about the people who make the clothing or give back to their community.
  • Avoid polyester, acrylic, and rayon. These materials are made of plastic and are manufactured in extremely toxic ways. Even conventional cotton can be damaging to underdeveloped countries due to its reliance on pesticides.
  • Buy second hand. By simply purchasing a piece that someone else already used and loved, you’re giving a second life to an article of clothing. Not only are you saving money, you’re saving landfills from otherwise discarded materials.
  • Consider a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is all about simplifying your wardrobe and having less. By having fewer items in your closet, you’ll feel less guilty about spending more money on sustainable fashion. Our products are perfect to work into capsule closets. Shop for your staple tees, tanks, dresses here. Learn more here about capsule wardrobes.
  • Host a clothing swap party. One of our favorite ways to find affordable ethical clothing is to host a fashion-swap party. We understand that you might get over your clothing at some point—why not host a party where everyone brings their used items and leaves with someone else’s … for free! 

Unfortunately, because of all that goes into ethical fashion, sustainable clothing is often more expensive. We like to think about it this way: If you pay $5 for a shirt, there’s genuinely no way that seamstress was paid a fair wage. Take this into consideration: it costs us about $5 minimum JUST for labor costs to make one of our pieces. That's not including fabric cost, packaging, labeling, the pair of underwear your purchase donates and a margin/markup so that we may stay afloat as a brand. If a t-shirt costs $5 in a store, that means the person making it was most likely paid around $1 per hour in a sweatshop environment and the fabric used to make it is low quality and harmful to the environment. Paying more for a zero waste shirt or low waste fashion means you’re supporting women and men through your purchase, along with making a difference on your planet.

Shopping sustainably starts with you. The more you can reduce, reuse, and recycle—and the more you are willing to do your research before you buy—the bigger impact you can make.

What are our favorite sustainable clothing brands?

We love supporting companies that have similar missions to ours, and we hope more and more companies continue to come into the market. 

Currently, some of our favorite sustainable clothing brands are:

  • MADI Apparel: Ethical basics that Make a Difference. (You knew we had to start with that one, right?)
  • Thred-Up: Secondhand clothes. Firsthand fun.
  • Reformation: Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We're #2.
  • Everlane: Exception quality. Ethical factories. Radically transparent.
  • ABLE: Beautiful products by women who have overcome.

Our dedication to sustainability

We believe that sustaining our earth is important and we do the best we can to contribute to a better fashion world by sustaining and creating new manufacturing jobs right here in our community, which helps reduce our carbon footprint and create a better local community through greater opportunities and fair wages. 

We use bamboo fabric made from the fastest-growing plant in the world and retail packaging bags that are reusable, chemical free, and unbleached. And ultimately, we use practical, long-lasting quality fabrics that last longer and create less waste.

We are always looking for bigger and better ways to make a greater impact on our community, industry, and world. By shopping at MADI Apparel, you are helping us expand our reach and impact through your support.