What is sustainable fashion—and how to practise it?
Parameters such as fit and style far exceed environmental considerations when people purchase, use and dispose of clothes. That is the outcome of twenty years of study into the wardrobes of ordinary people—and not bad news at all, according to Else Skjold, Associate Professor at The Royal Danish Academy and researcher within sustainable fashion. Please enjoy her wise points on sustainable fashion and how to practise it.
What exactly is sustainable fashion?
"That's a good question. I'm sure few people can answer it. To me, sustainability has become a weak concept we need to approach more practically."
How can we make sustainability practical?
"The clothes we wear repeatedly are the most sustainable choice. So there's a huge potential for more inclusive design in the fashion industry, meaning clothes made for ordinary people's body shapes. We need clothes designed for people, not for fashion. So many are forgetting that and using standards that don't fit most people—that needs to stop."
How come the fashion industry doesn't produce clothes that fit people?
"Once upon a time, clothing production was a craft that gave people an understanding of fit and quality and a desire to repair. But with mass production came standard measures and temporary trends. Since the 1950s, overconsumption has increased, causing environmental problems and leading to people buying too many clothes they are never delighted with and therefore don't wear."
But don't people love trendy clothes?
"Our studies show that people don't really care about trends. Instead, what matters to them is this: What makes my body look nice? How do I dress decently for work? What is an ideal fabric for me? How do I get and maintain a lovely wardrobe that suits me and my life?"
What matters to you personally when buying clothes?
"As an adult woman, I feel pretty confident about who I am. So, I can't stand when trying on a piece of clothes and a store clerk comes to me and says, oh, it fits amazingly well. Whether it does or not, I know that myself. I need someone who sees me as a woman and advises me on what truly suits me and my life, preferably in a way that makes my purchase better than I could ever imagine. That said, I prefer to swap clothes with my girlfriends rather than buy new ones."
What's your best advice to have fewer clothes and wear them more frequently?
"Take time to find fits that make you feel good.
Choose clothes that suit your life and are useful in many situations.
Care to repair, pass on and buy pre-loved clothes to make them last even longer."
"Loved clothes are sustainable clothes."