A new season calls for a new approach to fashion. Forget fast fashion fixes and major shopping hauls, this year it’s all about making your clothes live longer. Why? Well, recent research commissioned by Vanish highlights that 64 percent of consumers admit to wearing an item of clothing just once, and 50 percent own an item they have never worn. This is having a huge environmental impact. A 2018 study by Quantis showed that the apparel and footwear industry together account for more than eight percent of global climate impacts. That would translate into more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined, says the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. However, there are some easy steps we as consumers can take. According to the British charity WRAP, extending the active life of all clothing by just nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of them by 20-30 per cent. Here’s how to say goodbye to fast fashion FOMO and hello to a more sustainable wardrobe…
It’s all about attitude…
“Get in loser we’re going shopping” declared Regina George in the 2004 hit movie Mean Girls. The big screen loves to depict shopping as a pastime. From Pretty Woman and Clueless to Sex & The City and The Devil Wears Prada, there’s a plethora of scenes where existential crisis are solved by a shopping splurge. With fast fashion retailers selling dresses for as little as 8p, this “shop until you drop” mentality has quickly trickled down from Hollywood to the high street. This is a completely different attitude to the ones our ancestors had, especially those who lived during the Second World War. In 1941 in order to safeguard raw materials and factory space for war production, civilian clothing was rationed. Eleven coupons were needed for a dress whilst shoes required five. Each adult was given 66 points to begin with but this allocation shrank as the war dragged on. As a result, items were carefully considered. Today it’s not uncommon to have six dresses in one online haul. In 1941 this would have been your entire clothing allowance! Why not adopt a more mindful approach when shopping? The 30 wears challenge, originally started by Eco Age’s Livia Firth encourages each shopper to ask themselves:
“Will I wear this 30 times?” before buying any piece of clothing. If the answer is no, put it back.
Make “Make Do And Mend” Your 2021 Mantra
As part of the war time effort, a “Make Do and Mend” campaign was launched to encourage people to make their existing clothes last longer. From fabric care to elbow patches, leaflets were regularly distributed with step by step guides. Fast forward to 2021 and nowadays 73 percent of clothing is either incinerated or put into landfill after just one or two uses. However, with a plethora of free YouTube tutorials available spanning everything from how to fix an unrolled hem to how to sew a button there’s really no excuse to bin damaged garments. For dreaded moth holes, Etsy has plenty of pretty patches to cover them up with. For repairs that require a more professional approach check out the clothing hospital at Twisted Twee whilst the Restory specialises in designer shoes and bags. A tailor is the styling secret the fashion crowd including Instagrammer Monikh swear by. This can be particularly helpful if you find a second hand piece that doesn’t quite fit right. From raising a hem that is too long to adjusting necklines, a tailor will be able to perfect the errr perfect fit just for you.
Put Your Own Take On A Trend
Fair Isle knits, tailoring and silky flapper style dresses are set to be huge trends for autumn/winter ’21. It won’t be long until the high street is peppered with pieces but why not get ahead of the industry and look for similar inspired pieces that already exist? Try raiding your mother’s wardrobe for 80s power shoulder blazers, your father’s for vintage patterned sweaters and even great granny’s for drop waisted dresses. Ask friends too, often heirloom items are carefully passed down but lie unwanted in boxes. It’s worth hunting in vintage stores too. This month I’ve found a Gucci-esque trouser suit in my local charity shop and plenty of Chanel inspired cardigans on Oxfam online. It’s estimated that the amount of clothing produced each year has doubled since the early 2000s, reaching a staggering 100 billion pieces per year in 2014.
By shopping for pieces already created, you can help break this demand for “newness.”
If any of your pre-loved items look a bit lacklustre, check out the Miracle Revival Serum from Vanish. Working on up to six cotton garments at a time this one-shot serum will remove stains, revive colours by removing bobbles on a 30C wash, making that bargain buy as good as new again.
Fabric Care Is Key
Before the invention of the household washing machine and local laundrettes, cleaning clothes was a really laborious process. Instead spot cleaning and sponging of stains were commonplace. Nowadays, at the tiniest spill of coffee or red wine it can be tempting to just bung the item in the machine on a hot wash. However, this can drastically decrease the lifespan of your clothes. A higher temperature increases the risk of shrinkage, stretching and even colour loss. Instead choose a cooler cycle. Vanish Oxi Advance formulas can remove stubborn stains even on a cold wash (30°C). For focused stain removal try the Vanish Power Gel Fabric Stain Remover. With its rubbing head you can easily zone in on marks in tricky areas such as collars and cuffs.
In order to give your clothes maximum longevity, try thinking of your wardrobe as a whole rather than separated by season. With autumn approaching, it can be tempting to head explore fast fashion brands for a quick pay day fix. However, with some clever styling tweaks you’ll be surprised just how much wear you can get out of the pieces you already own. Try layering lightweight summer dresses over long sleeve tops. Chunky socks paired with sliders or sandals as spied at Prada and Simone Rocha adds an unexpected cosy twist. Delicate pieces such as a lace top look gorgeous contrasted with a more casual denim jacket. Or throw a chunky roll neck over a strappy dress, then finish with tights and stompy boots for a winning cold day look.
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