Insert surrender emoji!

Sustainable fashion is something I can wholeheartedly say I have had my own misconceptions about. Only in these last few months have I decided to delve into this new revolution of fashion and really began to see it as it is.

Before I begin, I want to start with some background. I am a student, on a student budget, with very little disposable income. It wasn’t until I got my first job at 16 years old that I really began to shop for myself and with my own money. At that age, I had no idea of just how much power I had when I handed my cash over the desk in exchange for a new pair of jeans.

Of course, I knew that sweatshops existed. But how could they possibly effect me here in Scotland? I shopped religiously, as if the money I made was for one thing and one thing only; clothes! When I got my job in Topshop, just a few years later, I was ecstatic. I was paid at the end of the month and immediately fired all that money back into endless amounts of clothes. My wardrobe became a wheel, swapping clothes faster than the backstage of fashion week. For every item I bought, I would get rid of one (always to a charity store), but I had no real idea of how much on an impact I, little old me, was having on the fast fashion industry.

We are all aware of the effect we are having on our environment (and if you’re not, turn on the news, just 5 minutes will do it). When I sat down a month ago and began my website, I wanted to do more than just fashion. I wanted to do something that would make a difference, a way that I could make a difference.

And I, like most of you I’m sure, had many assumptions about sustainable fashion.

I thought that it was;

1. WAY out of my price range.

2. Handmade, hippy clothing that only came in the colours orange and green.

3. Extremely hard to source e.g. not available in Scotland.

4. A myth.

5. Again, WAY out of my price range.

I know what you must be thinking, a website about sustainability by a girl who thought it was a myth?

And you would be quite right.

For a few months now, my awareness of my impact has heightened and I’ve been trying my best to change my lifestyle to one that is more environmentally friendly.

But believe me, it is not easy.

1. WAY out of my price range.

Out of my 5 misconceptions, only one is semi-truthful (technically two). It is quite expensive and my 16 year-old, primark shopping self would have fainted at the thought of a pair of jeans above £10. But, like I told myself just over a month ago;

Take 5 seconds to think of the words fast fashion and what they actually mean.

Fast Fashion [noun];

Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.

It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one T-shirt. The average person in the UK uses about 142 litres of water per day. I admit, I am not good at maths, but that seems like a little bit of a waste to me.

Yes, some sustainable fashion brands may be out of your price range, but I can assure you that there will be plenty fast fashion brands that could be out of your price range too.

Buying sustainably often funds more than just the clothes and 99% of sustainable brands have complete transparency from factory to delivery, so you know EXACTLY where your money is going.

2. Handmade, hippy clothing that only came in the colours orange and green.

Disclaimer: there is absolutely nothing wrong with handmade, hippy clothing in the colours orange and green, it is just not my style.

In fact, most sustainable and ethical clothes are in fact handmade. But they are made in a way that is fair to the workers; paying fair wages, providing reasonable working hours and safe working conditions.

And since then, I have found MANY sustainable clothes that are very much my style.

3. Extremely hard to source.

I was so wrong. With one quick Google, I found many websites dedicated to sustainable fashion and after an hour on Instagram, I had followed over 100 new people all involved in creating ethical and sustainable clothing.

I would also like to make a big point that sustainable and ethical fashion is so much broader than just environmentally friendly online stores. An extremely popular way of shopping is charity shopping and yes, that is a sustainable way to shop.

By purchasing recycled clothes (charity stores), you are not funding fast fashion industries AND you have stopped clothes from becoming waste, all whilst giving to a charitable cause.

4. A myth.

Well, you’ve read this far. You should know by now that it is indeed not a myth.

5. Again, WAY out of my price range.

AGAIN, it’s not. AND even if it is slightly more expensive, it is worth it.

Just remember, you are paying for much more than a new item of clothing.

If I have learnt anything in this past month of research, it is that I have so much more power than I thought. My spending has much more of an impact than a dent in my purse and we, as consumers, have the power in our purses to create an impact of good in the fashion industry and beyond.


Posted by:Erin-Louise Kirsop

Creator of El Inspired. Journalism student and movie addict on the journey to a more sustainable life.

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