*This post features a gifted item*
Ethical and sustainable fashion has a reputation for being inaccessible. Whether it be financially, or limited size ranges, it’s not seen as the ‘easy’ option. I’ve recently started shopping for sustainable fashion, and have banned myself from further purchasing fast fashion. As much as I’ve loved delving into the sustainable fashion universe, there are admittedly negative points. It’s an industry which is still growing and figuring things out, which I understand.
Watching The True Cost deeply inspired me to ditch fast fashion and search for sustainable alternatives. You can watch it yourselves over on Netflix, which I definitely recommend doing. However, I’ve delayed making the switch for a long time due to a fear of the unknown. Fast fashion brands make it so easy to purchase on a whim, and with sustainable fashion brands it simply isn’t as easy. The items are priced higher by default, so it’s hard to know what to invest in first. If you’d like to see a post about how I’m transitioning my wardrobe to become more sustainable, then let me know in the comments section.
Yes, I know that sustainable fashion brands have to charge more. They’re (more often than not) small businesses and they have to ensure a profit like all other fashion brands. However, charging £20+ for a basic black/white t-shirt is ridiculous. The main reason a lot of people don’t make the switch to sustainable fashion is the price difference. Realistically, can you blame them? The 2018 UK Poverty Report found that 4 million workers are living in poverty, and poverty rates are rising faster than employment rates.
Not everyone is able to afford top dollar items. With the pricing structure the way it currently is, the sustainable fashion industry is alienating those who fall below a certain income bracket. This creates a very apparent divide between those who can and can’t afford it.
Boy, am I sick of seeing the same skinny white models in every product photo. I don’t feel represented in this industry for the most part, and I’m a white woman. So how the hell is a person of colour supposed to feel when browsing through these sites? Personally, when I don’t feel represented by a brand I’m less likely to buy from them. Especially when it comes to clothing. I want to see how something looks on a body similar to mine. How does the fabric sit and move on someone with a larger chest than the average model? I need to know!
Neon Moon is a UK-based sustainable lingerie brand and are killing the game in terms of model diversity. I’ve been eyeing up their products for a long time and can’t wait to get my hands on some ethically made lingerie.
This is another big gripe of mine. I personally describe myself as falling within the mid-size range. I’m not necessarily straight size, and I simply don’t feel a connect with the term plus size. But so many sustainable fashion brands that I discover online often don’t carry above a size 10-12. I found a brand last week that looked super promising on Instagram, only to find out that the largest size they had available on the entire site was a UK size bloody 10. That’s a US size 8 and an EU size 38. Ridiculous!
The way I see it, why wouldn’t sustainable brands want to branch out into larger sizes? By sticking with such strict sizing, you’re alienating an entire potential audience.
This isn’t necessarily an issue with the sustainable fashion industry itself. What bugs me the most about sustainable fashion as a whole is the attitudes people have towards it. It’s so easily written off by the masses for one reason or another. People simply don’t care enough to want to change. Maybe it’s just a matter of time – there’s been a surge in support for the ban of plastic straws recently and it seems like sustainability is becoming trendy.
The way that fast fashion has evolved, people want more for less. Fashion seasons aren’t as clear cut as they once were, and new lines are being brought out multiple times a year. With the constant change, there’s the need (as a consumer) to try and keep up. Trends come and go at the drop of a hat. When everyone has it, it’s easy to feel as though you also need it.
Since researching more into the fast fashion industry, the more uneasy I feel. The effect is has on the workers and the planet is nothing short of disgusting. How in the 21st century is this form of exploitation happening? It blows my mind everyday.
So thank you fast fashion. You’ve served me well for the past 20 years but we’re breaking up. Our relationship has officially run it’s course.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.