When it comes to conventional fashion, the more you know, the more you start to look at your closet differently. Shopping becomes not just about how a piece fits, how much it costs, and how much you love it. As you learn more about the fashion industry, you start asking yourself how clothing was made, who made the piece, and what it’s made of.
It’s a lot to think about, which is why we’re so excited to announce a new way to shop MADE SAFE! We’re launching a page that features certified apparel, so that you can start (or continue!) building a wardrobe with sustainable pieces.
If you’re asking yourself why a sustainable closet is important, it’s because there is a lot about conventional and fast fashion that will make you ready to jump on the green fashion bandwagon, even if it’s just one piece or one type of clothing to start.
Here’s what you should know about fast and conventional fashion:
Fast & Conventional Apparel
Fast fashion: Fast fashion items are typically trendy pieces that are cheaply produced on a massive scale. They may emulate high fashion styles, but are done so with low quality fabrics and construction and are not intended to last long. Whereas most slow fashion brands produce two seasons a year, fast fashion brands can release more than fifty “microseasons” a year!
Fast fashion pieces are typically not produced ethically or sustainably. The industry has been associated with pollution, massive human rights violations, unethically low wages for workers, and pieces of poor quality destined for a landfill. The apparel industry also uses huge amounts of energy and releases ten percent of the world’s carbon emissions, therefore contributing to climate change. Not to mention the manipulative marketing intended to nudge you to buy the newest, trendiest thing that will only last one season.
Conventional apparel: Conventional apparel is anything that is made without attention to the sourcing of materials, conditions for labor involved in producing the raw materials and/or the apparel itself, possible contamination of the ecosystem by the production and growing process, production with toxic substances, etc. This is in contrast to sustainable fashion which is a growing industry.
Synthetic fibers: Synthetic fibers are derived from fossil fuels, and some are essentially plastic. This means that when they end up in the landfill – and they inevitably will – they won’t break down. Synthetic fibers include: polyester (also known as PET), nylon, acrylic, rayon, spandex, and more.
Microfibers: Some synthetic fibers breakdown into microfibers. Microfibers are tiny fibers that are released from clothing when washed. From your washing machine or sink they head down the drain into water sources. Microfibers contribute to plastic pollution because they don’t biodegrade in the environment, contributing to contamination of oceans and bodies of water – including drinking water – and food. Microfibers are harmful to aquatic life.
PFAS: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS for short, are a group of thousands of substances typically used for waterproofing and stain resistance in clothing. Various PFAS have been associated with numerous harmful effects including reproductive and developmental impacts, liver and kidney damage, and contribution to cancer.
Silver Nanomaterials: Nanoparticle silver is typically used as an antimicrobial, most commonly found in workout gear (and period panties!). Nanoparticle silver has been linked to toxicity to human and animal cells as well as aquatic ecosystems.
We know, reading through that list about conventional apparel’s dark side might feel gloomy. But remember that each choice you make that supports a company creating safer and more sustainable options is meaningful. Next time you purchase a piece of apparel, you can back a company that is working towards a safer and more sustainable future. That’s a lot of power!
So, what should you look for when purchasing new pieces?
- Natural fibers: Choose natural textiles like organic cotton, linen, hemp, wool, and silk.
- High-quality pieces: Where possible, shop for high-quality pieces that are intended to last, instead of throw-away fast fashion. We know it’s not likely to be feasible to make the switch to sustainable apparel all at once – at least it hasn’t been for us. To work toward a sustainable wardrobe, we recommend examining your closet to find the gaps. Do you need a new basic cami to wear under everything? Pajamas unraveling at the seams? Time to invest in some timeless workwear pieces? We recommend focusing on one essential piece at a time. By looking for the gaps, you’ll know where to focus your efforts so that you don’t buy extraneous items. And you’ll be able to focus your funds on a high-quality piece instead of purchasing numerous low-quality items that won’t last. This might take a little more financial planning than you’re used to when it comes to shopping for clothing, but you might find that by cutting back on buying unnecessary fast fashion items, you’ll be freeing up a chunk of your budget.
- Clothing without treatments: Skip items labeled as “stain resistant,” “easy care,” “no wrinkle” or with other similar labels. These may be treated with PFAS or other chemical treatments.
- Sustainability and human rights ethics: We love companies that are transparent about their efforts to make clothing that is not only sustainable, but is made ethically with respect for workers throughout the supply chain. We recommend looking for companies that publicly declare their ethics and are proud of how they operate. When in doubt, ask the company!
- MADE SAFE certified: We’re thrilled to announce that there is now an additional way to shop MADE SAFE for you and your loved ones! Shop our new apparel page that features certified clothing – including PJs and robes. MADE SAFE certified apparel has been made without substances known or suspected to be harmful to humans or the environment.
Shop MADE SAFE Certified Apparel now.