What is sustainable fashion and how to find it?


It’s easy to pop into your local shopping mall and pick up a few t-shirts for £3 a piece. While you may be getting a great bargain for some new items, have you ever stop to think of the story behind this t-shirt such as where it was made, where did the materials come from and who made it? What is the reason that you as the consumer have to pay such small prices? Unfortunately, the reason many times is due to cheap, unsustainable produced material use, as well as production in places on the globe that exploits very cheap labor under unsafe working conditions.

As the rise of the “conscious consumer” increases, buyers want to know more about their items besides just the final end product. Instead, they are interested in knowing the life cycle to date of the product to maintain peace of mind that they are contributing to a more sustainable and morally beneficial cycle to help improve the environment and lives of others around the globe. While sometimes it can be difficult to know the exact story behind each item, there are particular factors that can help you to ensure that you are purchasing in a sustainable way.

A good start is to look for products that fall under the category of “sustainable fashion”. This means that the production and manufacturing is focused on eco-friendly processes that reduce the carbon footprint as well as improve living conditions of plants, animals and people around the world. To be “sustainable” simply means that the process is maintainable indefinitely and does not contribute to increased environmental problems, rather utilizes renewable natural resources that enhance the environment. Keywords for sustainable fashion can include: eco-conscious, energy efficient, fair trade, hand or locally made, biodegradable, organic, recycled or made of renewable materials and/or vegan.

A challenge can be to find places that you can buy sustainable fashion, as it is much less common than your typical chain shops that you can find anywhere in the world. Here are some good resources to keep the piece of mind that you are at least partly, if not completely, purchasing in a sustainable way.

Local shops

Clothing brands and shops are also are becoming more invested in sustainable fashion. You can probably find some small shops popping up in your neighborhood or in a city near you that boasts an eco-friendly concept.

Online databases/websites

A good way to find many options for eco-friendly, sustainable fashion pieces that tend to cost less that the local shops would be to search through the many online options. For example, here you can find a database of many different brands that fall under the category of fair trade/organic/eco-friendly, etc. From there you can find a brand that fits your style and preference as well as brands that are made right in the UK.

Second hand

Second hand shopping has its roots in a more sustainable fashion concept, as it is built on recycling old things that you won’t use anymore. Spend an afternoon looking through your local thrift shops to see what kind of finds you can discover. If you don’t have the desire for that, then you can easily search through online second hand shops such as this website, where you can find used designer goods for sale.

Vintage markets

For really good prices on recycled fashion, head over to your local flee market. While the original item may not have been produced in a sustainable way, you are reusing it, contributing to a recycling concept and not letting the energy put into production go to waste.

Regardless of where you purchase your items from, the most important step is to simply become more informed on what constitutes sustainable fashion. You will then find it easier to sift through the marketing tactics that want consumers to believe that are buying something that is eco-friendly when it is simply not the case. The biggest challenge may be to come to a point where knowing you are contributing to a sustainable fashion chain is more important than that tempting £3 t-shirt in that shop window.