Our world is in the midst of a climate crisis the like of which humanity has never seen before. Our addiction to consumerism and growth continues to fuel a demand for excess in all industries. By some estimates, the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world. Not only is fashion, especially fast fashion, responsible for an ecological catastrophe but also for human rights abuses across the world.
Fast fashion has grown as demand for cheap clothes has pushed prices and quality in a downward spiral. Now we are facing a reckoning: carry on with business as usual, destroying the planet and human lives in the process, or look for ethical and sustainable alternatives? If we choose to support fast fashion labels, we are encouraging companies to look for low-cost production countries where worker rights and environmental regulations are either missing or simply disregarded. Our role as consumers in the 21st century has become pivotal because it is with our choices that we will shape a future where we can enjoy both fashion and our planet, or not.
The good news is that the right choice is becoming increasingly easy to make. Fast fashion is losing ground to ethical and sustainable fashion, with many small labels offering better made and more responsible alternatives. These new ethical and sustainable clothes are designed from conscious materials with transparent methods, making them more durable and better quality. The small production scale, higher quality materials and well-paid workforce of these new labels tends to push their prices higher than the average fast fashion brand. However, the growth in demand for ethical and sustainable fashion is helping to drive costs down as economies of scale start coming into play.
For ethical and sustainable fashion to become affordable to everyone, we need a fundamental shift in consumer choices from cheap, poorly made garments to quality and sustainable alternatives. In Ireland, we now have more choices for ethical and sustainable fashion than ever before and I have compiled a list of options to help you in your search for affordable options.
Buy Clothes & Accessories Made from Sustainable Materials
Many brands have recognized the devastating impact of materials like traditional cotton and new leather and have moved to sustainable options that are better for you and for the planet.
If you are looking for something a bit funkier and out there, head over to Jill & Gill to discover the amazing prints put together by award-winning Irish designers. The duo has created a label that aims to allow you to express yourself fully whilst wearing clothes from organic cotton and recycled materials.
These quality and sustainability first options come with competitive price tags and offer you complete transparency and confidence that you are buying something that is new AND good for the planet.
Buy Clothes & Accessories Made from Recycled Materials
One of fashion's most negative impacts on the planet is waste. Every year the industry produces 92 million tonnes of waste and accounts for a significant amount of the ocean plastic crisis. Innovative companies have understood this problem and found a way to reuse what we consider as waste to make beautiful new fashion items that help the planet.
The Upcycle Movement does just that. This label saves items from the landfill, turning old neoprene swimsuits into accessories ranging from bags to earrings. Every item ends up unique and with it's own story from the sea.
Going further, CRANN has created sunglasses and watches using recycled wood and plastic that are 100% recycled AND recyclable, which means that at the end of their life, all you have to do is send them back to be recycled into new pairs.
Such initiatives are exactly what we need to close the loop and ensure that all the materials we make end up used to the fullest and nothing is wasted, reducing the need for extra resources from our depleted planet.
Buy Clothes & Accessories Made Locally
The best way to cut your carbon footprint to near zero is to buy local and that goes for clothes as well as food. New eco-responsible labels like Stable of Ireland rely exclusively on Irish expertise and materials.
All their clothes and accessories are spun and weaved right hear in Ireland by some of the most skilled people in the country. Looking to keep your head warm? Go check Bogman Beanies for Irish made beanies from Irish sheep's wool.
I hope this guide leaves you with a better understanding of the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion in today's world. Our very own country of Ireland has so much talent and creativity to offer and these are but a handful of great brands to support for affordable, ethical, and sustainable fashion. The future is in all of our hands and by supporting these brands, we are empowering the right people for a bright future for Ireland and the world.