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Sustainable Fashion, is it the answer to over consumerism?

Niamh Wheldon

This is my first article for Mindless Magazine, and I will let you into a secret, it is also the first article I have written. So I thought why not start by writing about a topic that I am passionate about: Fashion. But not just fashion in general, because you would be here for ever if I was to do that, I want to talk more specifically about sustainable fashion, and whether it is the answer to over consumerism in today’s society.

My love for fashion started as early as I can remember, cliché I know, but it’s true. I have fond memories of dressing up in amazing clothes from my grandma’s wardrobe, a walk-in wardrobe that use to be the size of a shop to me at about 5 years old, wearing her high heels and using bags from her incredible collection. Fashion has always been a massive part of my life and I have gone through many different phases, the 2010’s were an interesting time for fashion, moustache t-shirts and One Direction pyjamas.

As I have grown older and developed my own sense of style, taking influence from celebrities’ street style, such as Hailey Bieber. I have found myself online shopping and searching for dupes of these items, which seem to be a little too easy to get online from the likes of ASOS and PrettyLittleThing. The ease and accessibility of these websites is one of the reasons why they are so successful, who doesn’t love next day delivery? In the multiple lockdowns we endured, I found myself online shopping, purely because I was so bored, it was getting to a point where I was receiving a parcel a day. It took me a few weeks to realise that this was not sustainable, I took a step back one day and thought, this is so unnecessary? Firstly, because I wasn’t actually going anywhere to wear the abundance of new clothes I had collected, and secondly, I stopped to think, what sort of impact was I having environmentally and if I was doing this every day, I know hundreds of other people would’ve been doing the same.

So, from that point on I stopped buying clothes for the sake of it, I decluttered my entire wardrobe and sold things on Vinted and made piles for the charity shop. Every time I go to buy something I stop and think, am I actually going to wear this, does it go with other clothes that I have and is it an item that in a few months’ time I will be bored of, and the next trend will have come around. I am currently in the process of trying to develop a capsule wardrobe, where I can mix and match different items I have and stock up on good quality basics from more sustainable brands. I don’t buy from places like PrettyLittleThing or Boohoo and since we have been able to go back out to the shops, I prefer to do this than shop online. Don’t get me wrong I love to shop in Zara and I am aware that it is not as sustainable as it could be. I can’t afford to create a wardrobe that is fully sustainable, but I can make small changes and swaps towards becoming more sustainable and help to stop my own over consumerism.

Gen Z are easily influenced by what they see on social media, and are constantly wanting the next in thing, which is why brands like ASOS do so well. They are able to create fashion that is trending and get it to Gen Z pretty much instantaneously. But this has a significant impact on the environment. Fast fashion, wear once and throwaway culture are so toxic and helping fuel consumerism.

However, there are multiple brands trying to tackle this, through sustainable practices. A few of my favourite sustainable brands include, Stella McCartney, not that I can afford to buy anything from her collections, poor student alert. She really is an innovator and is always coming up with new initiatives and ways to reduce environmental impact and tackle the sustainability issue that is so prominent within the fashion industry, which is why I love to follow her work. Another brand that I love to follow and see what they are doing is Pangaia, they again are innovators and potentially seen as market leaders in the world of sustainable fashion, not only incorporating recycled materials into collections, but coming up with new sustainable technology, click the link here to discover more about their collections and technology.

Sustainability within fashion is so important, but some companies use it to their advantage and greenwash consumers into thinking that a brand is sustainable when it isn’t, fuelling consumption, which becomes a vicious cycle.

I truly believe that sustainability is the way towards lessening consumption, I don’t believe that there is a perfect answer to over consumption, as it is something that will always exist. But if more and more people were to make small changes to their shopping habits, or to buy a sustainable item that is the same price as multiple fast fashion items, things may look very different.


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