Can fashion lovers be conscious consumers?

How can I be a more conscious and ethical consumer? Consuming only brands that are conscious and ethical, of course. But we all know that’s not easy, especially if we focus on fashion.

I love fashion and, as a lover of all things marketing, I love well-constructed brands to the point that they give me goose bumps sometimes! But lately I’ve been trying to be more conscious in my consumption behavior (and I know I’m not alone). Very often, I feel myself torn between my ethics and my love for branding and fashion.

So when this post showed up on my Facebook timeline, I clicked immediately: Instead of Asking “Why is this so expensive?”, Ask yourself: “Why is this so cheap?”. While the title led to predictable negative comments (“expensive doesn’t mean ethical” or “not all factories abroad are bad”), the article does a great job at stating where consumers can start if they want to change their habits into more ethical ones.

Here is where I have started:

  • The capsule wardrobe. 
    This was already in my plans, but leaving my Barcelona home and moving to a new city with only 1 suitcase definitely helped. Before moving, I sold and donated all of the clothes that I had not worn for the last 6 months or wore less than once a month. They were a lot, after many years of fast-fashion shopping. But the remaining pieces were still too many for just 1 suitcase. So I created my Project 333 capsule wardrobe, fit it in my suitcase, and left the rest of my most beloved pieces in a Spanish wardrobe for the seasonal updates to come. I think many consumers can relate to this: even if the damage is already done, the capsule wardrobe helps avoid repeating the same mistakes.
  • Buy less, buy better.
    I mean, of course, clothes of better quality because they will last longer, but also better in meaning. I want to support the brands that I like. I’d love that all of them were sustainable, both ethically and environmentally, but I know not all of them are. But they create great stories. They empower me with the values they communicate. They’ve done a terrific marketing effort over the years, sustaining the big advertising ecosystem that I’m so passionate about. So I buy less pieces, choosing the ones that tell the best story.
  • Forever thrifting. 
    This is easier when you live in a big city, I know. But I try to thrift as much as possible when I realize I’m missing a basic piece in my wardrobe, or when I feel I really need that piece that’s so on trend right now. A long walk around town and a couple of hours shuffling clothes, and the second-hand camo jacket, denim overalls or oversized solid black t-shirt magically appears in front of you. And the best part of it is not the price reduction or the quality of the piece. For me, the best part is that the maybe non-ethical process needed to produce it already took place many years ago, and doesn’t have to take place again just because I want to wear the specific garment.

As a marketing lover I wonder how the trend of consuming more ethically will affect the brands I’ve helped grow, and the ecosystem that surrounds them. I still believe marketing can change the world and wonder how I’ll contribute to the change when I’m back on reality after my sabbatical year. In the meantime, as a consumer, I’m trying to do my part.