A Former Shopaholic’s Confessions about Her Journey to Conscious Clothing
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
by Hemma Vara, founder of The Good Trend
Forever in the pursuit of style, the words ‘eco-fashion’ were banished firmly from my vocabulary. They could only lead to committing notable fashion crimes, probably along the lines of billowing tie-dyed pants that did nothing for my frame. My mantra was Haute not Hippie.
Waning in the doorway of my walk-in-wardrobe, coupled with long sighs about having ‘nothing’ to wear, slowly my thinking evolved, as did my style. Wanting to learn more about the industry that gave me the joys of ruched skirts and ruffled sleeves, I took a moment to slow down, educating myself about the problematic and cyclic nature of fast fashion.
By the time I watched the True Cost documentary in 2015, I was no longer a believer in mass-production. I was saddened by the exploitation of women and children abroad in inexcusable working conditions, just so that High Street stores could release new lines every week or so. The harm that textile waste was having on our planet didn’t seem worth looking good for.
I became wary of new e-commerce boutiques whose expensive rompers silently screamed imported direct from AliExpress for the cost of a cappuccino. An activewear giant’s ethos centered around empowering women seemed phony, as did mass-produced t-shirts with the slogan ‘Girl Power’. I also couldn’t praise a beloved New Zealand designer’s ethical initiatives in Africa when that same designer helped to bring Topshop to the centre of Auckland.
After some reflection, I had to do better, and change my mindset to relentlessly consume. I resisted the impulse to frequent the mall, fuelling my shopping addiction by lingering in second-hand stores and standing in ridiculously long lines at sample sales. I started checking garment labels and began to shun polyester, otherwise known as pure plastic. Purchasing natural, and new innovative fibres, became a necessary expense. But I’m no angel, and I am still perfectly capable of succumbing to temptation. My next goal is to KonMari my collection of possessions without contributing to a second everest of trash.
Now we are in 2019, and just like myself, the fashion industry is waking up, thanks to a change in consumer mindset. Due to initiatives like the Ethical Fashion Report and the CoGo App, fashion labels are being pushed into making their supply chains transparent. These labels are slowly updating their value and sustainability statements on their websites, and introducing into the fold new eco-fabrics and ethical initiatives that no longer reek of green-washing. By shopping these conscious lines, we are essentially voting for our preference with our dollars. Do your research, and thank me later.
We can only trust that as further change is effected in the industry on a global scale, the products of fair labour and eco-friendly materials will be widely accessible. We must also remember that it is never en vogue to shame others for their less-than-desirable purchasing habits. This further alienates us haute hippies from the mainstream crowd, especially as we can afford to shop consciously. Speaking from experience, if something is consciously produced, and makes people feel and look good, they’ll purchase it.
Hemma is a fashion writer and founder of conscious store The Good Trend, driven by her belief that humans and the planet should not be harmed in the pursuit of looking good. Her writing has been featured in Model Basics, The Register, Stuff.co.nz & The Spinoff. You can read more, including her take on sustainability at New Zealand Fashion Week here.