Getting behind sustainable fashion means becoming a conscious consumer. By thinking through your purchases, from how the fabric is made to the people who sewed it, you’ll stop selecting the fastest, easiest option. Start curating a conscious wardrobe today, and within a few seasons, your closet will be filled with classic, long-lasting, versatile pieces you can use at any time of year. 

This is a movement that encourages purchasing wardrobe items, like clothes, shoes and accessories, made by deliberately holding environmental and socio-economic aspects in esteem. From design to recycling, this takes work; making sure natural resources are used efficiently, using renewable energy and maximising reuse and repair. When it comes to people, sustainable fashion seeks to enhance working conditions, from field and factory to transport and store. It’s about promoting sustainable consumption, washing actions and changing the broader attitude to fashion.

Sustainable fashion is important. By consciously choosing quality over quantity, you can champion items made from sustainable materials under just conditions. It’s a crucial choice every one of us has to make, to go against the grain of a fast-consuming society. Those bargain-priced slogan shirts may not have a huge price tag, but they cost the environment a lot.

Let’s consider cotton; a common textile. This pesticide-intensive crop degrades soil character and needs around 20,000 litres of water to produce a single t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Then there are the energy-sucking synthetic fabrics, like polyester, which is derived from coal and petroleum. And to top it off, these fake fabrics don’t break down – they lie in landfills for centuries.

But it’s easy to pass the blame buck; sustainable fashion starts with you. Consumer demand is what drives fast fashion, with brands revealing new weekly collections, sometimes up to 50 micro-seasons each year. And because fast fashion isn’t about quality, the pieces don’t last – cue more washes and a shorter lifespan. 

So, when you decide it’s time to slim down your wardrobe, keep your quality pieces and build your collection consciously.

Marie Kondo is The Japanese guru of all things organised. Hot on the trail of her Netflix hit ‘Tidying Up,’ this authority on order has sparked an anti-fashion revolution. In droves, her devotees are adopting her ‘KonMari’ method which entails pulling every single piece out of your wardrobe, forming one colossal pile. When faced with the behemoth of your stuff, you realise how much you have; less stuff equals less stress.

Kondo then encourages us to mindfully hold each piece and ask ‘does this item spark joy?’ If it does, she advocates for keeping it, if it doesn’t, it’s adios stone-washed denim jacket. After thanking your ‘no’ items, she champions passing them on to charities or friends and family. Passionate about highlighting unnecessary purchases, Kondo seeks to sharpen our focus on the environmental and social effects of rampant consumerism. 

Starting a sustainable wardrobe is easier than you think. Before taking a new garment off the hanger, ask yourself if you’ll wear it at least 30 times. Don’t go for one-time wears, instead, put your dollars behind long-lasting, versatile pieces that aren’t about flash-in-the-pan trends. If you’re looking for ideas, do your research and seek out sustainable brands you love; then you’ll know where to shop.

If you’ve got a pile of unwanted pieces, instead of keeping them in your closet, donate them so others can invest in your older items. A time-tested system to go by is the one-in, one-out rule. Then, when you’ve slimmed down your wardrobe, learn how to look after what you’ve got, so it goes the distance; learn how to mend or find a local tailor.

In exploring your options, be aware no new energy has been invested in the production of vintage clothes; they have zero carbon footprint. But if you are keen on a new piece – look for something you can wear all year. Choosing trans-seasonal clothes gives you more options across the shifting seasons. Think jeans, t-shirts, timeless dresses, coats and jackets.

Always choose quality over quantity. That shirt may cost more, but when you’re only buying 10-30 quality items a year, instead of 60 cheaper ones, it’s a moot point. By shifting what you splurge on, you’ll eventually create a sustainable wardrobe, filled with incredible, quality pieces you can wear with pride.

We know that our business activity, from the energy used to run our offices to the dying and packaging of our garments, leaves a footprint on the Earth. We are working conscientiously to continue to reduce our footprint. The Dharma Bums brand is inspired by the world around us, and we intend to take care of it. We continue to work hard searching for fabrics that can tick both the ethical and sustainable boxes. We are already working with recycled nylon, organic cottons and sustainable bamboo. We will be expanding our use of the bio-textile modal (made from rayon and viscose) as well as biodegradable fabrics. We are committed to increase our mix of sustainable and recycled fabrics over the next 24 months.

If 25% of the carbon footprint of clothes comes from the way we care for them why not start with a Guppyfriend washbag? This scientifically approved solution against microplastic pollution from washing is super soft and keeps your clothes in great nick. A single-compartment washing bag made from 100% polyamide, making it fully recyclable.

Candice Mattiske