There's a lot of buzz lately about the Rs of fashion (Reduce, Recycle, Rewear, Repair).
Photograph- ronstik/Getty Images/iStockphoto
The discussion has been further ignited especially because of the very real effects and temperature upside-downs, extreme climate catastrophes we lately have come to experience during and post the COVID pandemic.
But it all comes down to one basic but-oh so-essential question before you click the checkout button have ever asked yourself: "Will I wear it 30 times?"
The online shopping boom can and will significantly impact the environment, from the rise of delivery trucks, to a mountain of returns and a ton of wasted, unworn clothes discarded in landfills.
So, here’s how to avoid contributing to that, finding clothes you love even when you can’t feel the fabric against your skin.
1. Measure accurately
Almost all online retail stores, give extensive information in the form of tables, lists etc. about measurements still the most effective way to make sure you avert another bought-too-small or bought too-large an item is to take your measuring tape and measure yourself properly.
Even when you’re confident you have the closest possible size, you do not truly know how the item will sit on your body. A lot of brands detail the height of the model, allowing you to do a sort of conversion.
When shopping online, if you get to scrolling pages and pages of clothes, sooner rather than later waves of fatigue will not escape you and you will probably end up choosing something spontaneously and without paying much attention to whether you need it or not (yes, it happens to the best of us). One easy path against that, is to edit your shopping, be selective and narrow down your search as much as possible into brands, into product categories, into product types or even specific textiles.
3. Choose the One
..That truly suits you, your body, your personal style and elevates your features. Here, there is an advantage to shopping from home. It is here that the secrets of your personal style will reveal themselves, in the garments you wear on repeat and feel great in.
Don't get swept in by flashy new styles and arrivals, try to concentrate on what you truly like and know from past experience you will wear more than once and feel confident in it. This is the essence of a great purchase.
4. Support Small Ethical Brands
Oh yes! We all know and love obsessively to scroll through the pages of big retailers for the new hot thing but (and this is a big BUT), how about truly curating your shopping experience to focus on discovering and supporting small ethical brands. There are some gems handcrafted by small brands with respect to people and planet at CEMELI.com, all featured brands are small, women-run businesses.
Also, when choosing smaller brands you get to be part of a niche community which makes your shopping experience very personable, fun and memorable.
Stella McCartney’s winter 2017 collection was modelled against the backdrop of a landfill site. Photograph: Harley Weir and Urs Fischer for Stella McCartney
5. Minimise returns
Returns are not only a terrible hustle and psychological let down, but most notably, they are the prior stage to jettisoning garments into a landfill thus increasing the world's ever-present pile of waste.
Writer and former fashion editor Carolyn Asome maintains a “ruthlessly edited wardrobe and a mental checklist of what is missing, what could be updated, what needs to be repaired”. Buy clothes only if it fills a gap in your long-term list; also, give yourself a self-imposed cooling-off period and see if you still want it.
Georgina Wilson-Powell, founder and editor of Pebble magazine and author of Is It Really Green? recommends adhering to the 30 wears rule: “To work off the clothes’ carbon emissions created during production, you need to wear it 30 times. If you don’t think you’ll get that out of it, don’t buy it,” she says.
6. Know your fabrics
While not being able to feel the weight or see the drape of a garment is a disadvantage, most websites do give full details of fabric composition and you can always quickly inquire.
There should be specifics listed for fabrics that claim to be sustainable, such as the GOTS standard for organic cotton. You can also zoom in on the photographs, to try to get a better idea of fabric quality and basically compare and contrast the same fabric on other brands/ websites.