Sustainable and eco-friendly fashion
From op-shopping to clothes swapping, roving reporter Cheryl talks to industry insiders about the rise of sustainable fashion.
Fashion is blooming into a new look.
With the onset of the global financial crisis, designers are developing a fashion conscience while consumers are seeking out economical alternatives to fast fashion, the frequent and rapid seasonal sartorial changes that take place according to the latest fashion trends.
Gone are the days of wasteful fashion consumption, churning out the latest trends in an assembly-line approach. Our environmental conscience is getting pricked by the mountains of unnecessary waste we have generated, as evidenced by the mountains of rubbish in our landfills.
Sustainable fashion, then, seems like the perfect solution to the modern fashionista's catch-22 - combining the hedonistic pursuit of one's fashion instincts with the reduction of one's ecological footprint.
The rise of sustainable fashion
Joanne O'Callaghan runs Op Shop Tours Australia, which brings fashion-savvy consumers on a day tour to source out quality bargain buys in the nooks and crannies of Melbourne's graffiti-scrawled walls and hidden alleyways.
Ms O'Callaghan asserts that Melburnians are beginning to seek alternative shopping avenues, with eco-friendly and organic clothing on the rise and op shops like The Salvation Army going through an image revision to become higher-quality retail stores.
"More and more people are finding quality recycled clothing and leaving behind the old-fashioned fables of mothballs and knitted blankets."
Why Sustainable and Eco-friendly Fashion?
The origins of sustainable and eco-friendly fashion first found their roots in Europe with a whole range of labels opting for more environmentally friendly fabrics and recycled textiles. The trend is slowly gaining a foothold throughout Australia.
Katherine Pears is a self-confessed fashion activist and the brains behind My Sister's Wardrobe. My Sister's Wardrobe is an event where fashionistas congregate to swap the pre-loved contents of their wardrobes for cute buttons that are used as currency during the swaps.
Pears asserts that the motivation behind this fashion exchange was to encourage people to "start swapping to reduce their ecological footprints" and to remind people "to think about reducing wasteful consumption".
"I would say everyone working to reduce their eco-footprints serves the global community because we don't know where the impacts of climate change are going to be felt first, so we need to act collectively for prevention," Ms Pears said.
Why Sustainable Fashion is gaining popularity
Salvos Stores marketing manager Laura Jackson attributes the growing rise of sustainable fashion towards the current economic climate, which is pushing "families and individuals to seek out quality cost-effective options".
"The cost of the clothing and sourcing pre-loved or vintage pieces is cheaper than buying the latest designer items brand-new from retail stores," Ms Jackson said.
For Stevie Dellamarta, it was that reason that fuelled her motivation behind Indian Giver, a Melbourne-based online boutique which loans designer threads to people for a fraction of the original prices.
"I was out looking for a dress for an event one day and found one that I couldn't afford. I had maxed all my credit cards and there was no way I would be able to get this dress. At this point I thought how great it would be if you could hire out designer fashion," Ms Dellamarta said.
Ms Dellamarta, who said that the "borrowing revolution is here", said that consumers are now much more conscious about their purchases because of the resulting impact on the environment.
Claire Fitzpatrick, the Australian Fashion Council's general manager, said that there has been a massive increase in eco-friendly fashion, which comprises ethical manufacturing and labour, lessening of wastage of clothing and the reduction of one's carbon footprint.
Ms Fitzpatrick attributes the rise of eco-friendly fashion to both a heightened awareness in the community and the global financial crisis.
Big brands and small designers have joined the fashion eco-wave
Apart from ordinary stores and designers, monolithic big-name conglomerates are playing their part to salvage the environment as well.
"There has been an increase in stores which sell organic clothing," Ms Fitzpatrick said. "There are also more and more small designers who are using organic dye and fabrics to make clothing. The trend towards vintage clothes is also rising, as an increasing number of stores sell second-hand or vintage clothes."
Take action to save the environment today
With big brands heading the eco-friendly wave, it seems that the number of surfers likely to hop on this wave is set to increase.
Australians have always been big on environmental matters, and they play a major role in lessening the burden on the environment. There are many ways that you can do so, such as being more aware of the materials that go into making your clothing or supporting op shops and designers who support sustainable practices.
According to Macquarie University's professor of statistics, John S Croucher, the estimated average value of unwanted clothing in the wardrobes of Australian women is $725 and $372 for men!
That probably also means there's a whole heap of stuff that's rotting in your wardrobe right now, so why don't you join a wardrobe swap to find an owner for it today?
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