Sustainable Fashion: Investigating the rise of ethical fashion

As most fashion lovers are aware the fashion industry has come under extreme scrutiny over the past few years regarding environmental and ethical issues. This is at the hands of fast fashion brands which we know and love, currently dominating the industry. With such issues being brought to the mainstream media, some people are making a more conscious effort to shop more sustainably, to tackle this rising problem.

Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Which is essentially what most brands we wear every day such as Shein, PrettyLittleThing and Primark represent. Such quick turnover of clothing items that we can buy almost the second the trend picks up on social media, has detrimental impacts that many people weren’t aware of until recently.

However, things are starting to change as people are becoming more and more aware thanks to social media such as Tik Tok. More and more people are making a conscious effort to change their habits and shop more ethically and sustainably.

Primark store. Credit: Alamy

Even large brands commonly associated with fast fashion are making efforts to improve their sustainability status for instance Primark has set up their ‘Primark cares’ strategy and many stores have a vintage thrift concession to promote sustainability.  TV sponsorships are another important factor which was necessary to spark this need for change with huge TV shows such as Love Island partnering with Ebay as opposed to Missguided.

The problem lies with fast fashion being so affordable in comparison to handmade ethically, sourced clothing. In this current economic status, it can prove difficult to shop sustainably for those trendy items.

We spoke to Rebecca Meechen, @rebeccareloves on Instagram, a sustainable fashion content creator who shared some advice on shopping sustainably. “Raid your own wardrobe! Dig to the back of your drawers and cupboards and find your old favourite items that you’ve not worn in a while. You’d be surprised at the items you’ll find that have been hiding, tucked under another garment on a hanger, that you’ve completely forgotten about.”

“If you’re someone who cares if people have seen you in the same thing more than a few times, if you can’t remember wearing an item then you can sure as hell guarantee that other people won’t remember it! And on that note, wear clothes over and over and over and over again. There still seems to be a big of a stigma around re-wearing outfits, and that needs to change. If you bought an item that you love, why on earth should you restrict yourself on how often you get to wear it.”


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A post shared by Rebecca reloves ✨ (@rebeccareloves)

“Don’t limit yourself to what you can wear and when. Don’t save your fun, best outfits for special occasions, life it too short, just get it on and make the most of your clothes.

Borrow, borrow, borrow. Raid your friend’s wardrobe regularly. If you are lucky enough to be the same size and shape as any of your friends and family members, swap clothes with each other for every occasion – it honestly never gets boring and you’re helping each other out.

Go to charity shops, they’re everywhere, they’re full of fashion treasures old and new, and they desperately need your money more than the high street stores do.

And if you absolutely need to buy something new, choose wisely. If you can afford to buy something that’s better quality, do it, because it will last longer and be kept from landfill for longer. Buy things you know you’ll wear often and items that will fit with your aesthetic and items you already own.”

Online second-hand shopping platforms are increasingly popular however sites such as Depop have become saturated with ‘vintage resellers’ who are only interested in making a profit for themselves crushing the ethos of having affordable second-hand clothing, listing items from charity shops as far more expensive than they should be.

A Google Trends report showed a mass increase in people searching for Vinted this past year in comparison to Depop which has plateaued with no increase in searches this past year this could be due to the mass amounts of expensive resellers on Depop making people turn elsewhere to shop affordably.

We also spoke to Lauren Nicole @igotitfromthecharityshop another social media content creator who promotes thrifted fashion for her opinion on the matter we face with Depop and Vinted. Touching on the subject of resellers who buy items from charity shops and sell them on such sites at a much higher price to gain profit Lauren said, “I see it as a form of entrepreneurship that contributes to sustainability by extending the lifespan of clothing”

However, Lauren also added, “the key challenge lies in striking a balance between fostering sustainability and ensuring that second hand clothing remains affordable for everyone”.

Let us know what your thoughts are and share your favourite sustainable brands @fashion_north.


1 Comment

  1. Lisa Jones
    11/29/2023 / 21:22

    Great thought provoking article. Sustainability and ethical sourcing is a hot topic in all industries at the moment…side by side with the European macro economics which hugely affect our fashion choices. I hope that the fashion industry follows through from its marketing campaigns and does practice what it’s trying to preach.

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