Slow Fashion: A Guide to Buying Better
From Vintage and Luxury Resale to Sustainably Sourced E-Stores
In my previous article, ‘Slow fashion: less is more’, we looked at the problem of fast fashion and the need ethically and environmentally for a switch to conscious dressing: pleasure in less; buying well; and, making clothes last. So, the question now is: how do we go about making sustainable fashion choices?
The simplest option presently is to take a break from shopping. You could take a pause from purchasing new clothing for a few months and make a concerted effort to only wear what you already own. This relies on looking for those hidden gems and learning to love older garments again. Your bank balance and the environment will thank you for it!
The other option is to borrow. Ask a sister, a friend, your mother or aunt to lend you their coveted items and instantly refresh your look. With all our social calendars taking a beating, it would be great to give some of these clothes an airing in new hands. It works particularly well with formal wear, where we are all guilty of buying something lavish and storing it away for another day. We have seen this done so beautifully by brides restoring family heirlooms for their wedding days.
If this doesn’t sound like you or you are looking for that fresh retail rush, the most sustainable fashion choice is to shop selectively and not from your unsustainable standard retail platforms. My personal go-to is to buy clothing from vintage and luxury resale sites. I have been partial to picking below-the-radar sustainable brands over high street labels. Here is a guide to buying better with the best of both!
Vintage and Luxury Resale Websites
WGACA have been the pioneers in luxury vintage resale since 1993.
This is all high-fashion, nothing less. Having visited their Soho, NYC store, frequented by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid for their vintage fix, I can say it is a treasure haven of luxury. The great thing though: it is all online!
The focus is on four values: authenticity (everything comes certified); sustainability (vintage is restored or preserved); individuality (rare, sought-after pieces are curated); and, collectability (timeless pieces are sold that can be kept and passed down).
Not only are the finest vintage pieces curated, luxury pre-owned items are too provided they stand out! You will find the likes of Dior, Chanel and McQueen so if shopping at WGACA, be prepared to splurge on a special investment piece.
Another one to check out for designer pre-owned fashion is Hardly Ever Worn It (‘HEWI London’), launched in 2012 for women, men and children’s wear. You will find an eclectic bag of upscale brands from Erdem to Louis Vuitton; luxury, up-and-coming brands like Sacai and Raey; and, streetwear brands like Supreme.
Depop operates as a peer to peer platform for the sale and purchase of designer labels, vintage and streetwear. Think of it as a cross between eBay and Instagram; a sprawling online marketplace, where anyone can sell and shop and a lifestyle space to see what the cool kids are up to.
Launched in London in 2011, with offices in Milan and NYC, Depop is the place to find more accessible but super cool brands. Here, you will find the best in streetwear but as items are not expertly verified (though there is buyer and seller protection with use of the app), I wouldn’t choose it for big-ticket items.
Sustainably Sourced Fashion
One label close to my heart is Maison Cleo: a mother-daughter partnership presenting handmade pieces, made on order.
The idea is to use materials sourced from excess fabric at large fashion houses or unsold by designers and create wearable, fresh pieces using the finest craftsmanship.
Nothing is made and stock-piled. You order knowing that the duo will then start working on your piece. Zero waste! The pieces themselves are feminine and versatile.
A French sneakers brand, initially popularised by Emma Watson, Veja is all about conscious production. ‘Veja’ itself is Brazilian for “look”: look through to see how it is made.
Veja sneakers are made with materials sourced from organic farming, without the use of chemicals or pollutants. Manufacturing is done is in dignified conditions – no sweatshop worries here, and with no budgets for advertising, the prices are fairer too. Truly, environmentally and socially responsible shoes like no other.
Winner of the Queen Elizabeth II 2020 award for British design, Alighieri is an ethical jewellery brand, presenting a unique collection based on Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’.
Alighieri is founded on being local. The jewellery is made locally in the UK, by-hand, using eco-friendly materials, including recycled materials that minimises chemical usage and water waste.
The pieces themselves are hugely covetable!
If you like vintage jewellery, check out Annina Vogel, which takes vintage pieces and restores and remodels them into something new.
One final tip is to keep your eyes peeled for influencers having closet clear outs, which we have been seeing a lot of during self-isolation.
These are a few ideas and a few select brands but the magic is, that the future of fashion is looking more sustainable with an emerging attitude of conscious buying. It is our demand for ethical and lasting clothes that will drive this change. The cycle of change starts from each one of us.