What do we think of when the word 'sustainable' comes into play within our lives? For myself, I tend to think of preserving the earth and making things last, through various practices. For others, it may draw a belief of the infamous slogan, 'reduce, reuse, recycle'. Depending on your background and interest, it could really mean a number of things. But, what does this word really encompass, within the fashion industry, and how can we live according to it?
We universally understand sustainable to mean, 'anything that can be upheld or maintained at a certain rate or level'. With that definition we understand that it can most definitely be applied to a number of life's arenas. As long as we are upholding something to a state that can be maintained, it would be considered sustainable.
In fashion, then, a garment that would last over a period of time would be considered sustainable. This is why thrifting and consignment stores remain to be great sustainable shopping experiences. They both provide garments that have been used and with our purchase, will continue to be used over time, demonstrating pure sustainable practices.
New items could also be considering sustainable when we take longevity or multiple-use garments. When purchasing new, consider the longevity of life within each garment. Take denim, for instance - this fabric can historically uphold multiple washings making denim a sustainable purchase. Apart from textile or material, choosing a garment that falls underneath classic style, as opposed to trend, will also have a longer closet 'life' in your overall wardrobe, demonstrating a sustainable purchase.
Habits alone also demonstrate sustainability. Washing, drying, using, and caring for, all come into play when considering garments and the longevity of closet 'life' of each garment. Sustainable practices would include: washing less, air drying, wearing multiple times between washing, and caring for the clothing as something valuable. These habits, in and of themselves, define everything sustainability is. It is within these habits, then, where sustainability really comes alive.
Whether new or old, as mentioned above, it is the practice or use of the garment that makes it sustainable. The making it last is in the practice or habit. No one can be a complete purest, but if we are asking the questions and participating in the sustainable practices mentioned above, we can maintain what would be considered sustainable. Thrift often, strive toward having a classic wardrobe, purchase garments that have a longer wear, and maintain sustainable habits.
Sustainable may mean a lot of things, but in fashion it means making it last. Whether through shopping practices or daily habits, maintaining a position of desiring longevity of garment 'life' defines sustainability.
Sustainable + Fair