One of my husband’s favourite ’games’ on a night out with friends is the ’would you rather game’. Would you rather drink prune juice or tomato juice? And would you rather swim across the english channel or run a Marathon des Sables? Or would you rather be stuck on a island with Putin or Trump? You get the picture! After a few drinks, this can be quite entertaining.
Recently I found myself involuntarily playing this game on my own while shopping fashion online. The thing is, my size has changed and it was time to embrace it and inject some newsness into the wardrobe – in the right size. And while I generally tend to wear VILDNIS, there are a few gaps in our collections and I had to shop these pieces from other brands.
To begin with I went through all the other sustainable fashion brands that I could think of. None of them had what I was looking for and, if I were to buy from them, I would have to compromise on the styles that I wanted.
Then onto the sustainable fashion lines from fast-fashion brands such as Zara’s Join Life. I found a few pieces I liked here, but much to my dismay, I discovered that even pieces in the Join Life collection were compromising on sustainability when I checked the fibre contents; ’at least 25% recycled polyester’ or ’at least 50% ecologically grown cotton’.
Moving on, I started looking at some of my all-time favourite brands: Zadig Voltaire, All Saints and Sezane. I knew already that the first two doesn’t use eco-friendly fibres or make sustainability promises, but I also knew that anything I buy from them, I will wear for years to come.
Sezane was the most disappointing. While I think their targets and commitments are fantastic, it was disheartening to see that even a brand with the heart in the right place has taken to greenwashing in the sense that they are advertising (unsustainable) conventional cotton as a natural fibre and using the word Sustainability just below. Unless you make the effort to check the actual fibres used, you would think that they are already a sustainable fashion brand. And they are not.
So... coming back to the game... Would I rather buy from a sustainable brand and compromise on the shapes I wanted OR buy from a fast-fashion brand that is making a small effort on sustainability (and a great effort on greenwashing)?
Or would I rather buy pieces with longevity from a high-end un-sustainable brand or support a popular brand who has a vision about sustainability but currently mostly do greenwashing?
Basically, would I rather compromise on style or values - or refrain from buying anything? A question that's almost impossible to answer when you love both fashion AND the planet!
It is my hope that someday in the relatively near future, all fashion brands will be truly sustainable and transparent. That way we, as consumers, can choose our fashion favourites freely without having to make compromises.
And this, by the way, is the reason I founded VILDNIS.
PS: I ended up shortening my ‘shopping list’ significantly and settled for a pair of jeans from sustainable brand Northmore and a dress from Zara’s Join Life.