The elusive British sun is starting to show, temperatures are creeping up, festival season is round the corner, and summer trends are hitting the shop floors. It's tempting as hell to ditch our winter wardrobes and start afresh with some cute new clothes. But wait, how many times will you really wear that new floral bardot top? And how can we make informed choices about where to shop ethically on the high street?
We've all seen the news stories of garment workers being paid far less than a living wage, heard the tales of protests and unsafe working conditions, and watched the tales of refugee children being exploited in Turkish sweatshops. It's absolutely heartbreaking, but at times it feels like something that consumers have no control over, making it seem easier to turn a blind eye and carry on with our fast fashion habits. Surely it's the brands' responsibility to fix this, not the consumers'? And will one more new dress really hurt?
Being able to love fashion whilst upholding moral standards seems impossible at times. But please don't give in, or be put off - this article is here to help you get started in finding a balance between dressing up and doing the right thing with three easy steps.
1. Ask questions.
It doesn't have to be difficult to be a savvy shopper, and finding out how much information brands share about the women and men who make our clothes is a good place to begin. Not My Style has just launched a sustainable fashion app that's here to make shopping and having ethics SO much quicker and easier. The team behind Not My Style have scoured every corner of those impossibly complicated sustainability reports on each of the brands' websites and then turned this information into digestible, quick ratings that we can all use to make informed choices. By seeking out and using this information we have the power to spend our money on brands that are taking active steps to improve their supply chains, and to call-out the brands that we want to do more. The app is linked to social media so get tweeting those brands you're disappointed in. Fashion Revolution week is also coming up next week, with a host of ways you can get involved, including taking a snap of a favourite piece of clothing worn inside out to show the label, and then tweeting the photo to the brand who made it asking '#whomademyclothes?'
2. Look after your clothes.
Alongside spending your money carefully there are other simple steps you can take to become a savvy shopper. Invest in fewer pieces of higher quality, wear them more than 30 times, wash with care, and repair or recycle when your time together is over. Next time you're tempted to buy something new have a good sort through the clothes you already own and see how you can repurpose and refresh the pieces you haven't worn in a while. AEG have also recently launched the Care Label Project, featuring loads of great advice on caring for your clothes, most of which are super easy changes to the way we wash different fabrics, whilst also debunking a few myths such as 'do not tumble dry', which can actually help some garments live longer.
3. Use your consumer power
If we all use resources such as Not My Style, and put our money where our morals are, along with these other simple steps, brands will feel the pressure to clean up their supply chains and make sure that the women and men who make our clothes are safe and happy. We know it will work, take UNIQLO as a recent example; the brand caved to campaign pressure and released a list of their garment factories. The more information we all ask for, the more brands will respond. Wearing clothes we love, that have been made with love, by happy people, sounds pretty damn good to me.
Fashion is meant to be empowering, so let's use our choices as consumers to band together and empower those who make our clothes, but currently don't have the power we all deserve. We got this!