Karma & Clothing
Feel Good About What You're Wearing
Currently, the fashion industry is an established fast-paced environment fueled by the latest designer collections that— only 3 months later — are discarded. This is called Fast Fashion. In order to keep up with demand, designers who choose to work within these parameters survive by sourcing their work to manufacturers overseas who design, pattern-make, source fabric, and sew for them. Unfortunately, this means manufacturing companies find the cheapest labor and “designer made” is simply not true. Presently, 250 million children, some as young as 5 years old, work in the fiber and apparel industry around the world.
Rarely can you buy sustainable clothing from a company that manufactures overseas. Even if the product is made from certified organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo, the practices that go into making each piece also needs to be ethical.
Fortunately, a small, yet skilled group of designers are bringing fresh sustainable designs directly from their heart and hands. This group sources their own fabrics, designs, and sews. Even as their companies expand, employees or contractors are trained to use the designer’s patterns and follow their vision. This keeps integrity in the design. Though the turnaround time may take weeks, the outcome is a longer lasting product with a personal touch. This is called Slow Fashion.
No doubt it can get confusing as to why it’s important to buy sustainable clothing from ethical companies. We've broken it down into three simple reasons why stocking your closet with eco-friendly clothing from organic cotton to thrift store finds--makes a difference.
IT HONORS THE EARTH
The fashion industry leaves behind a huge environmental footprint, from the pesticides used in growing cotton and the dyeing and treatment of textiles that is responsible for 17%-20% of global freshwater pollution, to the landfill impact of discarded clothes. Learning a few simple sewing techniques—like sewing on a button— or donating unwanted clothes to charities, or hosting a clothing swap, can keep your closet fresh and pounds of clothes out of the landfill. Likewise, choosing organic fibers or sustainable fabrics trims the amount of chemicals and carbon footprint in your closet.
2. IT HONORS PEOPLE
The fashion industry is known for its harsh labor practices and shameless cost-cutting. From the United State’s slavery which single-handedly fueled a global cotton economy during the Industrial Revolution, to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in NYC that killed 146 garment workers in 1911, to the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, production of textiles is by no means made without harsh, unregulated practices.
By choosing clothes labeled under the Fair Trade Act you are ensuring it was produced under safe working conditions, it's sweatshop free, and the person who made it earned a fair wage. People mean more than any company's bottom line.
3. IT LASTS LONGER
Learning how to shop for your unique tastes will ensure a wardrobe that is timeless. Sustainable clothing isn’t only organic, it includes vintage pieces, secondhand and handmade options. While buying organic, renewable fibers is often the least toxic way to go, finding timeless, durable pieces can be just as green. Shopping local designers and thrift stores coupled with finding a taylor and cobbler will ensure that your pieces will last for years to come.
Zoë Foat Naselaris is a cofounder of Foat Design, a Minneapolis and Charleston based eco-friendly apparel design company. She is a Jivamukti Yoga teacher and can be found teaching workshops on sustainability and yoga throughout the US and Canada.