When it comes to sustainable shopping – are we getting smarter?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had a little extra time on our hands recently. Whilst that’s something we’ve had in common, how we’ve all been using it has varied.

Personally, I’ve been using this time to shop more smartly. Before covid-19 took over our lives, the buzzword was sustainability, looking at where our clothes were coming from and how they were produced, in order to make more informed purchases.

It seems I’m not the only one. These days, when it comes to shopping it’s cool to be kind. With online shopping in particular, people are taking the time to read what materials form the product, and if they aren’t pleased with it – they aren’t afraid to call it out. Social media has given them a chance to openly give their opinions on clothing, and the brands aren’t able to hide from that.

When it comes to sustainable clothing, one thing is for certain – the cost. Due to the higher quality fabrics and manufacturing processes, ethical pieces tend to have a higher price point than our everyday essentials, which, to be frank, is why many haven’t always been responsible when it comes to making their clothes. They want to provide the pieces as cheaply as possible, but that means they’re contributing to the carbon footprint – something we’ve all been looking at while we mull over the future of our planet. Before the pandemic struck, this was something that was starting to become a priority for many Manchester-based brands, as they considered their sustainability strategy. Whilst, like many things, this has had to be paused, I hope to see this continue once things return to some sort of normality.

Yet, in a time where many of us are more cash-strapped, this doesn’t seem to be affecting our craving for conscious clothing. Instead, we’ve adopted the attitude of ‘buy less, wear more.’ We still want to support our favourite high street brands, but we also want them to support the production of clothing. But, in an industry that is so led by trend, are we able to make investments in pieces that may not even be in style the next season? The answer is yes. Of course, trends will always rule the fashion sphere, that’s, of course, how brands make their bread and butter. Timeless staples, however, like shirts and denims, will never go out of style.

And then, of course, there’s the feeling we have when we do something good. So many of us are sharing every purchase we make on social media, whilst our followers, interested and inspired by our shopping, take in this content. When we donate to charities there is that sense of pride, and it’s the same when we choose to purchase a more sustainable option over something that’s not. By sharing what we have purchased we have shown others that we are willing to pay that little bit more, that we are thinking about how we are shopping, and that we aren’t just led by whim. It makes the buying experience a much more positive one.

What will the future of our wardrobes look like? Whilst high street brands like H&M, Reformation, Zara, ASOS, and local brand Beaumont Organic have made strong pledges, there is still a way to go. Luxury brands like Stella McCartney and Nanushka have shown it is possible to create a fashion forward brand which is good for the earth, but not everyone can afford to shop there. 

As the high street brands evolve, we must too. It isn’t going to be an overnight job to change our wardrobe, and for many the idea of a staple-led capsule wardrobe may seem impossible, but it’s a journey. What’s equally as important is how we get rid of clothing we no longer want. Rather than throwing it out, consider recycling, donating to a charity shop, or reselling. We can help contribute to a more sustainable future without spending a penny.