By Loren North
Sustainable fashion is becoming more available, including options for men! Sustainability includes three pillars: social, economic and environmental. This is often referred to as the “3 P’s” – People, Planet and Profit. When you consider sustainability as inclusive of these three elements, it becomes easier to determine where you will be impactful with your fashion choices and how to create a sustainable wardrobe.
This can include the garment workers, the store owners or the employees. If you care about fair wages, fair working conditions and/or supporting local business owners, your apparel choices can reflect that. Look for fair trade made items or clothing with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) logo to ensure fair labor conditions in the supply chain. Additionally, you can support a local business owner versus shopping at a big box retailer.
It is estimated that each year 80 billion garments are produced globally. The average American throws away more than 60 pounds of textile waste each year. Data from 2012 estimates the amount of resources that go into fiber production every year are approximately 145 million tons of coal and 1.5 to 2 trillion gallons of water. How do we save the planet with our clothes? Buy less, buy the highest quality you can afford, and make your items last through repairs and alterations. Also, use the “30 wear” rule – before you buy something, ask yourself if you can wear it at least 30 times.
This includes fair wages and how a business gives back to the community. You can support a local business owner to be more impactful with your purchases. Shopping consignment is a great option if you are looking for a store that carries more than the current trends, offers clothing in a variety of sizes, and is not only focused on a younger age demographic. You will be also save a lot of money compared to retail stores.
While consignment fashion is overwhelmingly marketed to women, men now have many options when it comes to sustainable shopping. This can include consignment, shopping online for sustainable brands, or supporting locally owned businesses.
Sustainable brands – Look for brands that are transparent about their supply chain, how they define sustainability, what elements of sustainability they incorporate into their business and where their clothes are made. If it’s difficult to learn the answers to these questions, then they are likely greenwashing.
Shop consignment – See the sidebar for a list of men’s consignment stores.
Support local businesses and extract the value from what you own! This means finding a local tailor and/or cobbler to help make the items you have last even longer. Shoes can be resoled as well as conditioned and cleaned. If you have belts that are too long, a cobbler can resize those, too! If you find you aren’t wearing a garment because it is too big or too long, take it to a tailor. Very few men can buy a suit off the rack without alterations. Tailoring is often necessary, even if it’s just for hemming trousers. If you don’t know what to look for in proper fit, a fashion stylist can help.
Personal fashion stylist Loren North is a former environmental consultant who traded in her steel-toed boots for high heels to pursue her passion for sustainability and secondhand shopping. She is on a mission to change the world by changing how we shop for and treat our clothes. Her company Through the Closet Door is a personal styling consultancy focused on helping professional men and women improve their appearance. Send Loren an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about her styling services or visit throughtheclosetdoor.com.
Photos taken by Veronica Wierer at If I Were a Rich Man consignment boutique in Phoenix.
Find more fashion articles at greenlivingaz.com/fashion.