5 Steps to Become A More Conscious Fashion Consumer

For many, clothes have always been a form of self-expression of identity and exercise in style and creativity. What we wear can make us feel more in touch with our inner self, while helping us present our outer self in a way that matches our personality, identity, and mood. For a growing number of fashion consumers, however, clothes have been assembled into something even more - a declaration of values they want to live by.

The current fashion industry is riddled with unethical, inhumane, and unsustainable business practices. Prominent fast fashion companies such as H&M, ZARA, Forever 21, GAP and luxury brands such as Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, among others, have a long history of sweatshop and even child labor, abysmal working conditions, environmentally degrading supply chain practices, and marketing methods that outright lie to fashion consumers and distract them from these issues - all to prioritize profit over everything else, including people. 

These practices need to change, and the most effective thing that can immediately transform the industry is our buying decision. As fashion consumers, we have the power to change the industry, and it's actually pretty simple. Here are 5 steps you can take to become a more conscious fashion consumer.

1. Take care of the clothes you already own
Increasing the lifespan of your clothes is the first and most basic thing you can do right away to become a more conscious fashion consumer. Only washing when required at low temperatures, paying attention to the wash label, repairing instead of discarding - the list goes on. We've written a blog post about how to properly care for your clothes here

2. "Buy less, choose well and make it last" - Vivienne Westwood 
Invest in well-made staple pieces that can be dressed up or down. Resist the urge to buy low-quality pieces with impossibly low price tags - they are often mass manufactured by companies engaged in unethical business practices. Avoid buy-and-toss behavior. 

3. Observe a brand's values, ethics, and ask questions.
Don't hesitate to directly ask your clothing brands questions such as "Where were these clothes made? Who made them? What materials were used? Where did the materials come from?" Knowing the answers to these questions will help you determine if those brands are deserving of your support and help you feel good about the clothes you wear.

4. Learn about textiles that make up your clothes
See if they use recycled/sustainable fibers like hemp, organic cotton, Tencel, etc. instead of synthetics, such as nylon and polyester. 

5. Shift away from fast fashion and support slow fashion brands
At Cobalt District, we ignore the insane fashion production cycle and strive to create long-lasting pieces that can be worn all year round - a practice often followed by other independent and sustainable brands. This is also why we produce smaller and fewer collections per season!

It's easy to forget the impact of purchase or the power you have as a consumer. Take these small steps each day and together, we will make a collective impact on the fashion industry that cannot be overlooked and pave the path forward towards a more sustainable future in fashion. 


Sources:
https://risethecommunity.com/blog/cost-of-fashion
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/dec/10/luxury-brands-behind-gloss-same-dirt-ethics-production
https://labs.theguardian.com/unicef-chilhttps://labs.theguardian.com/unicef-child-labour/d-labour/