Just lately I have become aware of the value and power of knowing how to sew.

While I have learned this skill or hobby for over 10 years, out of love to manual making and to the world of fashion and textiles, it is only recently that I feel that it gives me much more than the joy of making and the outcome of each project.

Making, Repairing, and Patching

Never in history, these three skills have been more consciously valued in terms of contributing to the reparation of the consequences generated by a hyper-consumerist world. And though my view is a moderate one and I was never an”activist” for any cause, It’s time to recognize that something needs to change.

The Context

More and more people advocate and pass through the message of Sustainable Living, and more specifically, Sustainable Fashion. And many of the manifestations of these changes are, thankfully, increasingly heard:

  • Campaigns against fast-fashion and garments made to last a season and then be discarded.
  • Campaigns against the textile industry for their questionable ethics in terms of their worker’s conditions.
  • Campaigns against the production processes that negatively impact in the environment and in people’s health.
  • Campaigns against the illusion of making us believe that the indiscriminate consumption will complete us and improve our self-esteem. And the belief that if we have the latest fashion garment at the expense of our own tastes and physical features, we will be more accepted and admired by others.

As probably we all can perceive, we are witnessing a time where the accusations to the fashion system are not few.

Changing isn’t easy

While I agree with many of these claims, I don’t agree with radical visions that propose to eradicate consumption. The change has to occur, there’s no doubt. But if we are realistic, we cannot focus just on how much we consume, we have to also change the how.

It is not an easy task. It’s quite hard to change habits and I assume I am not alone in this. This is why adopting a bellicose attitude towards Fashion and denying it is neither a realistic nor an effective solution (although the criticism of some values that are intended to be transmitted in its name are undeniable). On the contrary, change has to come from within, from a place of love for clothes, textiles, and techniques. From the value given to the work put in them and the appreciation of the impact that fashion has on culture and individuals.

A slow but profound transition

These slanderer voices are being more and more heard even by moderate sectors (myself included) who, without being activists, begin to listen and try to implement some small changes in their daily lives as to contribute to change.

In the fashion world, developments in this regard seem to take place very gradually. But as waste separation was once a struggle of a few, and achieved to expand to public policies and become an internalized practice in many societies, I am confident that sustainability and responsibility for our fashion consumption, is also destined to a profound change.

Maybe someday we will get to a point where all these issues will be solved and we will have full awareness of what we consume and where our garments come from. But until then, I propose to start with small changes, relatively easy and achievable, with which to contribute with something. These changes will allow us to deepen our commitment in the future through concrete actions.

The 3 Methods:

In this context, there are 3 ways to start making a change in the field of fashion that we can implement today, simultaneously or independently:

  1. Buy Less
  2. Buy Better
  3. Learn to make and/or repair

Let’s delve into each of these points.

  1. Buy less is quite obvious. It means acquiring what we really need or want but in a moderate way. This adjustment depends on each one of us, on our current consumption levels and our ability to change.

Again, this varies from person to person. We can not expect the same from everyone because we are not all the same. Each one will have his/her own time and his/her own limits: For someone who is used to buy 10 pieces in a season, he/she can try to reduce that number to 8, and so gradually over time. Everyone knows their standards and what to do to adjust them.

For someone who feels the emotional imperative to leave the mall with at least one bag in each visit, because otherwise it is perceived as a “failure” (we all know someone like that), a first step would be to resist the temptation to buy just to buy. And to try to plan in advance what we really want or need.

  1. Buy Better is a second step or strategy to be more sustainable.

We can start by looking for clothes and accessories with better quality, that last more than a season or two. If you have ever inherited something of your mom or grandma, then you probably understand what I’m talking about. And for sure, the value you give to this garment is much greater than you give to any other (beyond the emotional component).

Here we need to think about items that we know we will want to use in the future and avoid those that we know will goof style faster than a sigh. Because let’s be honest, as a better quality means more investment, nobody wants to spend tons of money on something that will give us shame go out with 6 months from now. But buying better is not just resigning better price for better quality, it is to become more aware whether the brands we consume are ethical in their practices and processes, in their use of materials and in the conditions of their workers. Or why not consider buying second-hand quality clothes that are in perfect condition? ThredUp, the world’s largest online thrift store where you can buy and sell high-quality secondhand clothes, and Vinokiloa social enterprise that runs pop-up events for second-hand clothes, and also sells online, are great places to start.

  1. Learn how to make and/or repair. It is apparently the most difficult, but at the same time, it is also the most rewarding.

Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t have the necessary skills or you don’t have enough time for this. Your belief is not only understandable but also completely valid. In this case, there are three options:

a. Put your best effort to change your habits applying one or both of the above methods, or

b. Try giving it chance (and some time) to learning the skills which could be acquired relatively easily and quickly. I am not saying that tomorrow you will be able to make your own clothes and accessories, but you can learn the basics to mend and prolong the life of your existing ones. If they are quality garments that you really appreciate, then probably you will be more prone to give them a different destination than the garbage.

c. And what if you would like to give them a new opportunity but there is no way you’ll learn to do it or spend the time required? Then it is time to give value to craftsmanship again and to those people that dedicate their life to it, and you might find it’s worth paying someone to put that garment to use again.

Small Big Changes

These three methods are designed so you can put them into practice today. Within your possibilities and in a way you can feel comfortable. It is about trying small changes that we can digest and integrate into our lives, appreciating fashion but in a more conscious and responsible way. Giving much more value to each of the things we have and acquire.

 

 


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Hi! I'm Daiana, author of Thread Stories: a Blog for the Fashion and textile inspired. A space to worship sewing and craftsmanship where you will find Tips, How to’s, Trends, DIY, Techniques, Tools & Resources to create for yourself in the most conscious, creative and inspiring way!

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12 Comments on "Sustainable Fashion: 3 Methods to put into Practice Today"

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Juhita Gupta
Guest

I love this post. You have listed down steps which are easy to follow even for people who aren’t minimalists and who may want to be sustainable but don’t want to pay a bomb for a tiny scarf.

admin
Admin

Thank you Juhita! Glad you found it practical and doable, that is the whole idea 🙂

Priya
Guest

These are indeed very useful tips for me. Specially the ‘buy less’ part😉. Thanks for sharing 👍

admin
Admin

Thanks Priya, we all have a challenge here, just don’t give up! 😉

Rashida
Guest

Very well thought-out and written 🙂

admin
Admin

Thank you Rashida! Hope you found this interesting 🙂

Amanda
Guest

This is a great article. I work in environmental sustainability so I can relate a lot to this. AND I just started learning how to sew!! I can apply some of this advice to my sewing endeavors 🙂

admin
Admin

Great Amanda! Happy to hear you relate to these subjects, we all should in more or less extent. Stay tuned because there is a lot to come!

Elise Ho
Guest

I am not very good at making or repairing things but I have improved dramatically in buying better. I have been very focused on eliminating excess.

admin
Admin

That is great Elise, this is not all or nothing. Stay tuned because I will keep posting about this if you want to keep making progress in any (or all) of these areas!

alia
Guest

I can sew very well, yet I never find the time to make clothes anymore. This reminded me how much I miss it!

admin
Admin

I understand Alia! Sometimes I feel the same, there is never enough time. But we should find the spaces for the things that make us feel good and fulfilled!