The Five Key Traits Your Clothing Should Have To Truly Be Sustainable
You probably already know that €5 sweaters are not very sustainable. Most brands that advocate sustainability go for ethical production, sustainable fabrics, less plastic use and local production. But what if we told you that your clothing needs a little more, to truly be sustainable? After all, a garment can be produced with a very low environmental impact, but if we do not wear it -or just very little- it has been a useless impact after all. Therefore, in this blog, we explain which five traits are key for your clothing to get worn over and over again, and thus truly be sustainable.
1. Low Impact Production
The first key trait is kind of straightforward: the lower the impact that the production of a new garment has on the environment, the better. And this is where most sustainable brands already are doing a great job: they pick sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, linen, or, as we do, Tencel Lyocell. These fabrics require very little water, land, chemicals and energy when produced, and thus have a (way) lower environmental impact per meter compared to fabrics like conventional cotton, polyester, rayon, viscose, and lots of other harmful fibres.
Besides impact of the fabric itself, slow fashion labels also make sure the garment is a high-quality piece. This makes your clothing last a lot longer before reaching its end of life. The result is a high-end item that you invest in for many years to come.
Other low impact actions are producing locally, reduce plastic use in packaging, use carbon neutral transport, and give the option to return the clothing anytime. These all contribute to your new item becoming more sustainable. Yet, as we will explain below, your clothing needs to have more traits than just this low impact in the production, in order to really reach sustainability.
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2. Timeless Design
Besides low impact production, there is another key trait that many slow fashion brands take into account: timelessness. In order to counter the extremely fast pace with which fast fashion trends exchange each other (last week yellow was THE color, now its ‘not done’), slow fashion aims to make its pieces as timeless as possible: they are classic, elegant, and a good fit to wear both now as in 10 years from now. When you buy a timeless design, you make sure you are not tired of it in just a couple of weeks. This makes you wear the item longer and more often, thus increasing sustainability.
3. Comfortable To Wear
Now, we start to look into a trait that not even all slow fashion brands take into account: comfort is key for true sustainability. Imagine: you have found an amazing pair of jeans, made with organic or recycled cotton, which looks amazing on you and is a real classic. Yet, after a long day at the office you have deep red marks on your belly, your knees, and hips: the material turns out not to be that stretchy, and sitting down is just really uncomfortable after a few minutes… What do you think: would you eventually wear these jeans a lot, even though they look awesome and are sustainably produced? We bet you don’t. And as sustainability eventually is all about wearing less items for a longer time, this item that ends up in the closet cannot be called sustainable (even though the cotton is recycled or organic). Just take a look at your wardrobe favourites, that you turn out to wear over and over again: aren’t they all comfortable? So in the end, to truly be sustainable, reach a long life, get worn a lot and make you happy, your clothing needs to be comfortable as well.
4. Mix- and- Matcheable
Also, in order to get worn more often, a truly sustainable item should blend in perfectly with all of the other things you already have in your collection. If you buy an amazing skirt that is sustainably produced, but has a color that does not fit with any tops or sweaters you have, you’ll either end up buying a lot more to complement that item, or leave it in your closet to never wear again. You get the point: neither of the two options eventually make the item very sustainable. Therefore, whenever you buy something new, it is good to check if it mixes & matches with other items in your wardrobe. And this trait even has a very positive spillover effect: if you have five items that all match very well together, you can make endless more combinations than if you have fifteen items that only match with one other piece, or do not even match at all. If you aim for all of your clothes to be mix-and-matcheable, your closet could be a LOT smaller, and still be more helpful to pick an outfit every morning! And you already know: the smaller the wardrobe, the more you wear the same pieces, the more sustainable.
Finally, the last key trait your clothing should have to truly be sustainable: it should be appropriate for more than just one occasion. A recycled Christmas glitter top that is comfy & matches with every pair of pants you have will still be left in the closet for 364 days a year. Sustainable? Not really… So go for multipurpose items: that blouse you can wear to work, to a party ánd to a summer city trip is an excellent example. These garments in your closet that you can wear to any event in your life are the ones that get picked to be put in a small suitcase if you go on a holiday, to a work event where you would go out in the evening, and in a very small wardrobe if you, for instance, live in a Tiny House.
So, if you really want to get the most out of your clothing, pick longlasting items that are timeless, comfortable, mix-and-matcheable with your current wardrobe, and suitable for many different occasions. This way you create a wardrobe that has a lower impact on the planet, but that also serves you way better in picking great outfits! Garments with these five key traits are bound to become true wardrobe favourites, that you cannot stop wearing, even if they are years old.
Do your items live up to these five sustainable traits? Do you also think they are important to become a wardrobe favourite? Let us know in the comments!