There are still many misconceptions or myths about sustainable fashion that are simply not true and which can harm the reputation of sustainable fashion. This mainly comes from a lack of knowledge and misinformation. Sustainable fashion brands are not promoted enough and they are invisible if you do not look for them. I have never seen a flashy TV commercial of a sustainable brand showcasing a LBD (Little Black Dress) worn in ten different ways. Before I was interested in sustainable fashion brands, the only Facebook ads I saw were big neon ’SALE 50% OFF’ ads of fast fashion brands (social media only advertises brands you Googled, liked, ordered from or think you might be interested in). This is also a big part of the motivation why we started this blog. We want to promote sustainable fashion, make it more accessible and easier to understand. Therefore, the following list shows five myths we have heard (and believed) too many times over the last years and which you should definitely forget about.
1. Sustainable fashion turns you into a Janis Joplin look-a-like
One of the biggest reasons why people shop at Zara, Topshop, Asos, H&M and other fast fashion brands, is because they can always dress according to the latest trends for a very low price. When I ask people around me what they think of sustainable fashion, the first thing I still hear is that it is not their style. Some keywords are: plain, hippie, hobo, untrendy, clothes my grandma would wear, and so on. Yes, thirty years ago they would have been right. But so much has changed in the meantime, and nowadays there are so many trendy and even high-end brands that sell sustainable fashion. Ever heard of Stella McCartney (seriously no?), Matt & Nat, Kings of Indigo or Geitenwollenshirts for example?
2. Sustainable fashion is expensive
First of all, expensive can mean multiple things. You can think a sustainable fashion piece is expensive compared to a fast fashion piece, or you may think it is too expensive for the product itself. And what might be expensive for you, might not be expensive for me. Are you still following me? Let me explain it in an example: you have a basic H&M t-shirt for €9.99 and a basic Geitenwollenshirt for €17.95, which makes the Geitenwollenshirt €7.94 more expensive. This money can be redirected to, for instance, wages of employees, transportation costs, fabric and material used, profit, and a lot more. A lot of times, sustainable fashion brands use better fabrics and produce their clothing locally or in foreign countries where they pay their workers fair wages. The labour costs is where big fast fashion companies save most of their money, which eventually has consequences for the workers producing the clothing. Here is a great example of how transparent a brand can be about its prices. This price tag is from Bellamy Gallery, a fashion store in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. As you can see in the image, they make €26,56 profit on the clothing piece, instead of around €104,56 as some traditional retailers.
Lastly, when I buy sustainable fashion, I see it as an investment. You can buy five tops for €10 which you won’t like or have fallen apart after less than five years. Or you buy one high quality sustainable top for €50 and keep wearing it for five years or more. And I do understand this is difficult when you are a fashion addict and like to change your wardrobe every season. I used to be like that (still am a bit) as well. Invest in some good basics, like a trench coat, dark blue jeans, high heels, etc., and work your magic with accessories. Looks that come from well invested pieces are timeless and always make you look like a million bucks. If you are bored with your basic pieces, and you need to change your look because you are going to a festival or something, go thrift shopping!
3. Trendy sustainable fashion brands are extremely hard to find
Like mentioned before, if you don’t look for the brands, they are hard to find. Every shopping main street in every city has multiple McDonalds, H&M’s, Zara’s, Mango’s, Vero Moda’s, ONLY’s, KFC’s, Starbucks, and so on. But sustainable fashion stores in those streets are impossible to find (if you have, please let me know). Luckily, I’m not a huge shopping fan anyways. Slow strollers in front of you, overcrowded shops, waiting lines for the fitting rooms, smell of old sweat, oh I could go on for ages. That is why I thank the inventor of the internet, Google and online shopping on my knees for their incredible contribution. If you google ‘sustainable fashion brands’ you can find a ton of information and the only thing left for you to do is to check out all the brands. If you see one you like, put it in your favourites! I understand that this is quite time-consuming, so here are a few awesome brands to get you started: Mud Jeans, Kuyichi, Real Fake, O My Bag, Veja, Nukuhiva, Svilu, KowTow, Freedom of Animals, Mayamiko, Braintree Clothing, Noctu, My Sister, Raven & Lily, and soooooo much more that will definitely be mentioned another time. When you realize how many amazing and beautiful sustainable fashion brands exist, you will start to regret all those times you bought a new wardrobe from a fast fashion brand, just because it was easier.
4. Sustainable fashion will take away the jobs of workers in sweatshops.
This is a statement I heard people using as an excuse to still buy fast fashion, although they were aware of the bad side of fast fashion. I personally find this a very smart excuse, because there is some sort of truth in this statement. Yes, if fast fashion brands would stop producing in Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, China, etc., a lot of people would lose their job. However, I think we sometimes forget that we, the customers, are king. Remember? Why do we not put more pressure on fast fashion brands in changing their production process, for instance? We have so much more influence than we think. There are tons of other brands around that we can support that still produce and design in countries mentioned before, but in a good way. Like Tonlé, an awesome brand designed and produced in Cambodia, that pays their workers a fair wage and produces their clothing by using scrap waste from mass clothing manufacturers.
5. It won’t make a difference
This statement is unmotivating and not inspirational at all. If you ever want to accomplish something in your life, and you keep telling yourself it won’t make a difference, it won’t. And this applies to everything in life. Quitting smoking, obtaining a degree, asking your crush out on a date, going to the gym, reading more books, eating less meat, every – single – thing. If you want to make a change, change. It will make a difference, because every drop counts.
I hope this list will make you think differently about sustainable fashion. The next time you hear one of your relatives, friends, colleagues, lovers, neighbours, advocate one of these myths, show them this article. Lastly, remember that it is never too late to learn more about sustainable fashion and become more conscious about what your wear and purchase. Because like Barack Obama once said:
“It’s not cool to not know.”