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Sustainability in Fashion

April 13, 2023

Maybe it’s the thrill and creative burst that came with Tumblr, or maybe it’s the influence of diverse and unique styles that came with TikTok, but either way there is no denying the surge in focus on fashion and individuality of style in recent years. Heck, maybe it’s even just Liberty’s own culture that seems to have a focus on fashion throughout different key groups that make Liberty what it is. I know that personally, a combination of social influence and of course, the encouragement from others to dress fashionably and uniquely at Liberty has increased my passion for fashion over the past few years. With that, in part with being a college student, I’ve made some (unfortunate) decisions to buy cute, trendy clothing for cheap (cough cough SHEIN…). No shame, I won’t pretend that many of us haven’t been in the same boat with pure, impoverished intentions. It’s hard to face reality when it comes to buying new clothing for less money. As hard as that pill is to swallow, by buying from places like SHEIN, ASOS, Zara and more, all we end up doing is funding multinational platforms that take advantage of low-wage workers and steal designs from legitimate hard-working designers; this is called fast fashion, and it’s literally everywhere.

Aside from the obvious that fast fashion puts extra work on underpaid workers and steals unique designs from talented designers, fast fashion also creates a ridiculous amount of textile production and waste. Of course, there are plenty of ways to recycle clothing and upcycle as well. Take Madewell, for example, who makes it incredibly easy to recycle denim. I get it though, places like Madewell are stoooopid expensive and hard to justify spending the money on, no matter the mission or the quality of the clothes. So, then, how the heck are we supposed to make fashion more sustainable while still keeping up with the trends and expressing our own stylistically creative designs? Well, there’s a few ways. For one, I highly recommend checking out local thrift stores and second-hand retailers as often as you can. Rather than buying something brand spanking new hot off the production line, why not buy something lightly worn or even vintage for a fraction of the price? This cuts back on textile waste and helps to highlight individual taste. By sorting through racks or bins of miscellaneous clothing, you are so much more likely to find something that screams “you” than the newest psychedelic top Kendall Jenner wore down the runway that can be found at every other fashion retailer.

Another way to keep fashion sustainable is to simply buy less clothes. It hurts, I know. I’m a retail therapy girl through and through, but there also comes a point where I have to be realistic about what I’m buying. Will I really wear this? How often? With what? With the idea of ‘less is more’ in the world of fashion, I rely on capsule wardrobes. In case you haven’t heard, a capsule wardrobe is a closet full of bare necessities, all of which can be put together in endless combinations to provide more outfits with less clothes. It takes time to build, but I think it is so worth it. Mix in a fun print or your favorite color as well! Your wardrobe is completely yours, so make it your own… just with less. Finally, to keep fashion sustainable, also keep in mind cycling clothes through with your friends. Sharing is caring! And for those special occasions where you’re tempted to buy a $300 article of clothing that you’ll only wear one and a half times, consider renting clothes instead. There are websites like Rent the Runway that allow you to rent show-stopping pieces for an affordable price so that you don’t have to worry about a bulky suit or dress taking up a third of your closet space.

It’s devastating to think that the fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and accounts for about a fifth of 300 million tons of plastic produced in the world each year. With our next event coming up on, Runway Bingo on April 15, I encourage you to bust out your best look (I’ll be fan-girling) but keep sustainability in mind. Heck, if you’re extra creative, why not make it your own somehow? Sewing is so fun and pretty easy once you get the basics down, so why not add your own personal flair to turn something you like into something you love! Remember to shop second-hand when you can, and that less is more. Share with your friends and be realistic with yourself about how often you’ll wear that neon suit. There’s a ton more information about keeping fashion sustainable available at Forbes, Vogue, and even the Harvard Business Review, so I encourage you to do your own research and discover your own way to be mindful about sustainability in fashion. We can’t all be a master on the sewing machine or at the thrift racks, so find comfort in the fact that there are other ways to be conscious and responsible when it comes to reducing waste in the fashion industry. Go forth and slay the house down.


Written by Hannah Clark

Hannah is a senior studying event planning and has plans to soon be a professional wedding and special events planner. She loves using writing as another way to express her creativity and in her free time, she loves to play video games, bake, and play fetch with her cat, Gidget.