You may have come across the phrase “the most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already have”. Though it’s perhaps a little cheesy, it is definitely something we couldn’t agree with more at ReJean.
That is because we care deeply about the fashion industry becoming the force for good that it has the potential to become. And key in the mission to create a sustainable fashion movement, is that a reformed industry doesn’t become overly infected with the desire that has poisoned the current industry makeup: a never-ending pursuit for profit and growth.
To prevent this, a sustainable fashion movement needs to advocate much more than purely accessing suitably made clothing. In order to genuinely transform the sphere fashion has in our lives we need to drastically reinvent the way we interact with all aspects of clothing.
In this blog post we wanted to shine a little light on just one key issue which must be an integral part of tackling the impact of fashion: garment care.
For those unsure what garment care even means, it can be summarised as the way we treat our clothing post-consumption [i.e how we look after our clothes at home]. This may seem like an inconsequential aspect of creating more environmentally friendly fashion habits. However, you may be surprised to find out that:
- 21% of fashion’s greenhouse gas emissions come from product use and
- 11% of a garment’s total emissions is caused from how it is laundered and cared for.
Fundamentally, the aim of the game with garment care is that by caring appropriately for our clothing we can extend their lives. This then enables us to fully exhaust resources that we have in circulation. We are able to keep a garment out of landfill for longer and we can postpone buying something new to replace the disposed item.
As crucially, it’s inherently unsustainable to only use and enjoy something for a short period of time. To develop sustainable habits we can extend the length of time that resources are useful to us. Seems simple and it is.
So here are a few ways to implement top class garment care.
CHANGE IN MINDSET
Unfortunately, a dominant aim of the fashion industry is to convince consumers that garments have little value. Therefore, an initial key step to achieving quality garment care is changing the predominant culture in fashion. We need a radical shift that redefines clothing as non-disposable.
By creating such a change, garment care becomes an unavoidable aspect of our interaction with clothing. For poor clothing treatment is exclusively a consequence of considering clothing as expendable. Once we placed true value on all our clothes, we will treat it with respect and an intention that it will exist with us for as long as possible.
So how do we shift the way we value clothes? A likely starting step is to move away from trends. Instead, we can develop our a unique and personal style. Rather than being dictated by influences’ biweekly clothes haul, or from an ultra-fast fashion brand’s continual new collection, we can discover what our individual tastes are. This will help avoid being persuaded to buy another garment when said influencer or fast fashion brand inevitably posts again. By cultivating an individual style, the chances are increased that a garment will stay with an individual for longer, as it was authentically chosen by that person.
By taking this an initial step, we can start to consume clothing with the intention that we keep and love the item for as long as possible.
WASH AND STORE CORRECTLY
Now for some easy, basic ways you can improve your garment care game.
Initially wash your garments far less often. Instead of putting a wash on, consider spot washing, refresher spray, or simply airing the garment.
Additionally, a key step to keep clothing lasting longer is to store them correctly to prevent unnecessary ware. Though it is true that fast fashion garments are often made with poor quality materials - as they are intended not to last - what exacerbates a short life cycle of a fast fashion garment is the way we poorly treat that clothing. It could be argued that we as consumers compound the objectives of fast fashion brand: that our garments will not last longer than a season. This is because we likely chuck it in any wash cycle with little regard and we carelessly drop it in the corner of a room when taking off of an evening. It’s important we deliberately care for all items we own.
MENDING AND REPAIRS
Another great way that you can care for your garment, and one which we particularly love, is by mending pieces. Mending allows you to continue the life of clothing instead of concluding that it has had its best days and should be disposed.
But additionally, mending allows you to breathe individuality to a piece, and re-make it with your own style as inspiration. And developing a set of mending skills means it’s easier to buy vintage and 2nd hand. It is normal to have a tailor garments, as all our bodies are different, and buying off the rack will only fit a small number of people perfectly. So, buying 2nd hand means you will likely need to alter your clothes. But such is more than achievable with just a few techniques, and minimal equipment.
If you would like to try mending for yourself, there is a wealth of resources online. For a pointer as to where to start, look up visible and non-visible mending techniques. But there is also numerous tailors and seamstresses who have abundant skill to help amend an item.
At Rejean we have a Repair Shop, where we offer mending, alteration and repair services. Get in touch and we can in if you would like to know more about how we can help you extend the life of a garment you love.
We hope that this blog post has helped you learn a little more about the importance of caring appropriately for our clothing and provided insight into how we can make sure our wardrobes are much more sustainable.