I remain a strong advocate for buying sustainably-produced clothing from credible and transparent brands, but second-hand clothing is moving up in my esteem.
It’s great that in recent years so many sustainable brands have launched. You can now buy something that is ethical, on trend and at a different price point almost every weekend. But I wonder what that means for our exhausted planet? It feels a little like fast fashion.
With all these ethical and sustainable brands popping up, I am thinking that we need to take it back to the principles behind sustainable fashion – creating something that sustains rather than destroys resources for future generations to enjoy. I’m not saying certified organic cotton and a fair trade wage system is destructive. No. But second hand clothing really targets the consuming resources part of the equation. It is a great way to reduce consumption by recycling and re-using, and lessening the landfill fabric waste that is just as bad as the waste created at production. It also gives us a lot of choice, style wise. I also feel that if an item has made it through a couple of washes and still looks good on the shelf then it should last long too. From a wallet perspective that’s a deal – greater guarantee, less the price.
A fellow blogger and vintage and pre-loved store owner, Leah Wise, from Stylewise, also made a good point in a previous blog regarding big fast fashion brands cashing in on re-purchases. With my media and marketing background I feel they get double the brand awareness when items are worn again. But, as she said, the second hand market is its own economy. Besides, if someone asks who we are wearing, we get the opportunity to say we have deliberately bought second hand to lessen our carbon footprint. Leah also pointed out that re-using acknowledges the work that has gone into making these garments and that resonated with me too. After all, the #whomademyclothes campaign asks us to question manufacture, so why shouldn’t we also show our appreciation. That is our love for fashion – appreciating beauty and style.
Perhaps the ultimate solution then is supporting a second hand sustainable-brands market, and with all these brands emerging that becomes a real option. Jess from Muka Kids has run a system like this for years where you can trade your sustainable ethical brands via a Facebook marketplace. It is particularly popular for kids clothing.
So then the question is what if I find a great sustainable brand on ebay and it has to be shipped from the US to New Zealand? Crikey. I’ll have to delve down that question another time! At the end of the day there are many factors that guide our purchase decisions and that’s the most important thing – being mindful. I’d like to add to that – not only mindful but joyful and proud of trying rather than being guilty for not ticking all the boxes.
Featured photo credit – Walk in Wardrobe.