Ghislaine is a Sustainable Stylist and a member of the Intuitive Business Academy. Here she shares with us a bit about her approach and a really useful list of recommended companies you can shop without the negative environment impact!
This guest blog was written by Ghislaine Walker. Visit talesinstyle.com to learn more about her work with sustainable fashion.
A couple of styling sessions with Lauren led to a discussion on which sustainable brands to shop with. This is always such a tricky subject!
And that’s the best kind of topic for a blog post!
Sadly, the choices currently available are weirdly restrictive given the vast amount of production globally. Green washing in the fashion industry is real, it’s seen as clever marketing.
Whilst actively working to create “conscious” collections – I told you it is confusing! They publish a lot of information but it generally falls into the “could do better” category despite being rated higher than brands like Patagonia. The Fashion Transparency Index is full of helpful, if detailed information.
I am not an advocate of extreme environmental perfectionism, quite the opposite! No one is perfect and those bumps along the road are often the biggest lessons. Look in my wardrobe & you will find fast fashion brands, there are a few mistakes and there’s more polyester than I am comfortable with. Just as I wouldn’t ask a client to throw out everything that doesn’t match the profile we have agreed, I don’t ask perfection from myself. We are all learning about the impact of climate change and unethical practices, there will always be improvements that can be explored. This Facebook group embraces this approach!
For anything to be sustainable you might think this is the antithesis of fashion and style. The word means long-lasting and durable! That in itself is the exact opposite of the fast fashion that we have all become accustomed to but precisely what we need right now!
However, if we look a little deeper it is perfectly possible to live a sustainable lifestyle whilst moving with trends and embracing new styles. Other meanings held within the word sustainable are renewable and workable. For within any new designer collection or new season offering on the high street there are key staples that recur with little more than the odd tweak. This is what makes any wardrobe workable.
Each of us will have items in our wardrobe that we consistently wear, replace, love and that is generally because these are staples that suit our personal style, body shape and our routine activities. Identifying these staples and learning how to pick the best versions to bring out our best features is intuitive for some and a terrifying science for others. However, once we have that down there is the beginning of the durable part of your personal style.
All clothes are by definition renewable, none will last forever and there is so much innovation around this idea that I would have to do a separate post. As a taster though please consider how you dispose of any items that you no longer wear.
We have been conditioned to crave the new. That is not all bad so long as it doesn’t come at the cost of others’ well-being and livelihoods. Finding unique pieces to inject a fresh energy into your style is so achievable. Something as simple as a new accessory can transform your old favourite frock. Equally important for me is knowing that I have made a meaningful purchase. That takes many forms from simple charitable donations to being confident that the manufacture of the garment was ethical, safe and benefited those involved in each process of its manufacture.
I confess to a lot of geekery around this subject. Interrogating every purchase to be certain I am happy with the credentials of the brand I am buying from has become a pleasure, not a chore and every time I do the work this is information my clients can benefit from. It is possible for any consumer to research the provenance of the pieces they buy. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t find this information don’t buy from this company. If the information isn’t clear then ask for more details. You will probably have to email and be patient about a reply.
Getting into these habits causes you to slow down and consider how your shop, hence Slow Fashion.
If you looked at my bookmarks there are literally hundreds of companies I have highlighted to explore later. However, there are some resources I use regularly and brands I am confident sharing their details. Here are just a few:
Pebble is a great magazine for anyone considering a more sustainable lifestyle, especially if you are seeking positive news stories.
Good on You is one resource where you can discover ethical brands and learn how their performance is rated. It’s not comprehensive but definitely useful.
Pantee is a company I love! They make women’s underwear from deadstock t-shirts. My best buy this year was a set of mint green big pants and a bralette. The comfiest pieces ever! Colours vary according to the fabric they are able to source.
Organic Basics pretty much describes what this brand offers. The quality of their underwear is lovely. I am particularly impressed by the range of colours which reflect the rainbow of skin colours in our world. Few of the mainstream brands offer this consistently across their ranges.
Baukjen is a fashion press & influencers favourite. They are one of very few fashion companies that are BCorp registered. I don’t have any new pieces from them but recently bought a classic navy & white striped cotton shirt secondhand. The fabric & cut are excellent. It’s a keeper! Baukjen have partnered with Oxfam for #secondhandseptember this year.
Saint & Sofia have a good reputation. I have had my eye on them for a while, though I haven’t bought anything yet.
Komodo has been around for years. Always consistently good quality, not trend led, they are more interested in working with their partners to create good basics. I was given a pair of socks at a trade show many years ago, worn every winter, still going strong!
Ganni mid price range, always popular with fashion press & stylists. They are open and honest about their environmental impact, working towards UN sustainable development goals and not making false claims. Personally, I would choose them over Anthropologie on this and quality though I am more likely to buy through resale sites as they are a fashion brand favoured by influencers who pass on their pieces too quickly to be truly sustainable.
Thought is not unlike Komodo, well respected with a long track record. They are quite safe in their designs but sometimes feature the most exquisite prints. Good basics.
BAM began with activewear made from bamboo fibre. Interestingly this isn’t the most environmentally friendly textile, despite claims by many manufacturers. However, it’s better than many and BAM does give accurate information about their impact. I have several pieces and have bought from them for at least 10 years.
Kettlewell are amazing for colour. You can enter your colour palette and they will show what is available. They are open about their supply chain and happy to give information. Personally I find the styles are a bit Mumsy and there is a Facebook group which is borderline obsessive but loved by colour stylists. I have one vest, it’s a great colour and I do wear it a lot.
Eileen Fisher has never been anything other than sustainable. Her design is intended to last and the style is classic. However, this doesn’t suit all body types.
And finally my favourite is Vinted! There are many online resale platforms and you can trawl through all of these. I guess Vinted works for me because I am familiar with using it. There have been a few mistakes but nothing disastrous so far.
Ultimately, choosing good quality and design that flatters you means you will enjoy your clothes and keep wearing them for longer. Many talk in terms of cost per wear and this can be a really helpful way of deciding whether a purchase is going to sustain you or if it will cluttering up the back of the wardrobe this time next year.
The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobeOrsola de Castro