When it comes to menswear, the idea of creating a sustainable wardrobe from scratch is, without the shadow of a doubt, a daunting one.
Not to mention that men don’t necessarily enjoy shopping – Of course, I am talking in general here!
Based on a survey done in the UK, men became bored after just 26 minutes of shopping, whereas it took women 2 hours.
The need to get it done quickly might be tricking you into falling for greenwashing techniques.
See, you want to wear the brands you're used to and some might even seem to be ‘good enough’ but when you start reading about their sustainability credentials, some of those brands aren’t quite making a genuine effort to up their green game which might result in you having to limit your choices in terms of shopping options… Oh, what a hassle, right?
On top of that, shopping for menswear can be extra tricky after all pieces like a pair of chinos or a plain cotton t-shirt look pretty harmless to most of us, would you agree?
The thing is, researchers have discovered that buying one new white 100% cotton shirt weighing approximately 220g produces the same amount of carbon emissions as driving a car for 35 miles. Yep, that’s the equivalent of driving from Temple Bar to Wicklow town… for a single t-shirt!
But back to our good ol’ problem-fixing selves, here are some easy tips to fill your wardrobe with conscious pieces:
One of the most difficult things about trying to be more sustainable is knowing where to start – and, more importantly, where to shop. Thankfully, it's now much easier than it once was; there are so many brands – including fantastic Irish ones! – that operate with a sustainable focus in mind.
Personally, I would encourage you to do a bit of research and to ask questions, if you’re uncertain. For instance, social media is an easy way to speak quickly and directly to brands.
The end goal is to ensure you are buying
from a brand that aligns with your values.
And trust me when I say, once you start your own investigative work, your portfolio of knowledge will have grown – and you'll have a whole host of labels to choose from!
A general rule of thumb to apply when researching into whether a brand is working on their sustainability credentials is that if it's difficult to find out their stance, chances are they aren't as eco-minded as they seem.
A New Attitude
Have you ever considered the pre-loved market?
"Every new item of clothing made has a substantial carbon footprint attached to its manufacturing, but the amount of new energy needed to produce vintage clothing is zero," Emma Watson once said.
Pre-loved garments have an important role to play in making fashion more sustainable and reducing a global footprint and that thrill of finding a vintage gem that’s unique to you is one hard to beat!
Thriftify, Vestiaire Collective, Farfetch Pre-Owned, Zalando Pre-Owned and the various charity shops around the country are all great options.
Another eco-conscious way to keep your wardrobe updated is to opt for rental fashion – check Bond Bros out!
Given that, every second, the equivalent of one rubbish truck of textiles is landfilled or burned globally, it's clear that sharing our wardrobes and contributing to the circular economy is a step toward a more sustainable future.
Bonus Point: When opting for pre-loved or rental, you’ll not only be reducing impacts on the environment and waste from the overproduction of new merchandise… you will be saving a few bob too!
Other ways to curate a more conscious wardrobe would include:
- Invest only in clothes you really need. Consider not what is being pushed at you by fashion trends but instead look at your own style.
- Support local. Buy from local brands, buy from local craftspeople for accessories and use your local tailor for adjustments.
- Quality > Quantity. Top quality pieces often last longer. Check the workmanship of your clothing. Check seams and zippers. Shop with durability in mind even if it is somewhat more costly.
- Look for certifications. It is important to keep an eye out for certifications which prove that clothes are made sustainably and ethically. Labels that include bCorp, Ecocert, GOTS Certified, OEKO-TEX and Fair Wear Foundation are good places to start.
- Swap! Host a clothing swap with friends and family, it’s fun and everybody wins – you, them and of course, our planet!
Originally written for the Irish Tatler
For more on sustainable living, find me on Instagram @iampatkane