15 hot tips for your ethical wardrobeHome » Blog » Amy Stephens » 15 hot tips for your ethical wardrobe
Wellingtonian Amy Stephens is on a mission – to wear only ethically made fashion for a year. She blogs about her journey at Fair Fashion Year, and now that she's partway through her challenge she shares her best shopping tips ...
Amy's halfway through her Fair Fashion Year challenge – to only buy ethically produced or pre-loved clothes. It's been quite a change in shopping habits, and now that she's got six months' experience, she's got some great tips for building your own ethical or eco wardrobe.
1. Evaluate your wardrobe and cull it
Then cull again. Be fearless. Never worn that dress but hold onto it for sentimental reasons? Recycle Boutique, Secondo, Ziggurat, Hunters & Collectors all take clothes to sell on your behalf in Wellington.
2. Beware of the majority of the high street
Yes, most of it is made in China (not that this is always a bad thing) and no, you can’t find out the factory conditions or wage becauses no one knows. In fact, most of the time when I ask those sorts of questions the shopkeeper looks at me like I'm an alien. Fair enough. There are however great deals to be had in second-hand, vintage or boutique shops that stock New Zealand-made clothing. Made-in-Australia shops such as Cue are ethical and so are brands such as Icebreaker that police their offshore manufacturers, so give them a shot too.
3. The web is your friend
The purchase of a Fairtrade or ethical clothing item is a click of a button away. Google 'Fairtrade' or ‘organic clothing’ and a wide variety of options will pop up. Buy second-hand online through TradeMe – there's lots of lovely designer clothing and shoes on there for bargain prices. Etsy> sells cute vintage or second-hand finds from all over the world; Felt sell similar handmade items from New Zealand.
4. Support the locals
Visit your local craft market. The Wellington markets on Saturday at Frank Kitts is fantastic and has some great jewellery, shoes and clothes. (Check out Good's directory of craft markets nationwide and add your local if it's not there!)
5. Don't buy things you don’t need
I cannot count how many times I used to make impulse buys because something was on sale/I was buying last minute for an event/I’m a girl and I like shopping. Planning your shopping sounds boring but soon it becomes second nature and you realise more and more what your style is and what you’re not likely to wear.
6. Use apps or directories to save time
7. Go to a Big Shwop
You’ll be amazed at the variety of styles you can find there. I have had so many comments on the three items I swapped at the last Big Shwop.
8. Learn to make do
Sounds like something your grandma might have said, but that cash you save could be going towards that trip overseas you dreamed about.
9. Ask questions
Enquire about where your stuff is made – don’t be shy. Even if the staff or owners don’t know, you might have made them curious to find out more.
10. Make use of tailors
If you want your clothes to fit you perfectly then why not enlist some help from a local tailor? I guarantee that the stuff that gets made to fit you perfectly will last you far longer and look even more fantastic than that Glassons dress that’s gone out of shape. I am in the process of getting a dress tailor-made based on the Uniform Project’s LBD. Watch this space!
I know this is an obvious one, but the locally made necklace I bought from Craft 2.0 has had so many compliments. Having some great accessories is a great way to update your clothes instantly. Scarves, belts, jewellery and badges are easy buys that add an edge.
12. Only buy what you’re in love with
Back away from the glittery shoulder-padded jersey if you’re not 110 percent in love with it.
13. Buy classics
When you do buy something a little bit more expensive make sure you’ll wear it with loads of different things. Tailored jackets or blazers, skirts, t-shirts and good quality shoes have all been items I’ve worn over and over.
14. Look for New Zealand-made clothing
Some New Zealand-made labels I have found are: Kilt, Mondegreen, Starfish, Cybele, Sistahood, Thrive, Tanya Carlson, Chalky Digits, Riddle Me This, Glowing Sky, Christina Perriam, McKinlays Shoes, Salisbury Boutique in Dunedin stocks New Zealand-made, Minnie Cooper makes gorgeous shoes, Out There Clothing and Anna Krsinic.
15. Start small
It’s not about throwing out all unethical clothes and shoes that you already own. Maybe you’ll just buy some organic t-shirts and progress from there. Maybe you’ll buy less but better quality stuff. Once you get started you’ll be amazed at the money you save and the unique bargain finds.
Meet Amy from Fair Fashion Year
Amy lives and works in the wonderful city of Wellington and has always been interested in fashion. But recently she's become concerned with the 'dark side' of fashion and the ethics and sustainability of it.
She's been blogging about her journey so far on her 'fair fashion year' - there are three rules. They are to only buy pre-loved, Fairtrade or New Zealand-made clothing and shoes.
So far it's been a pretty amazing and interesting eight months! You can read about her year so far at Fair Fashion Year!