Breaking it down, there is no such thing as sustainable shopping. Shopping will never save the planet, but it does not have to be terrible either. The main issue is that we shop too much. We buy what we don’t need, we don’t use what we already got, and we are used to pay too little for clothing and accessories. The most powerful change would be if world leaders cleaned up the industry once and for all. And for the industry to be clear about what sustainability and slow fashion truly is about. It is necessary to work both towards the overall long-term goals and do what we can as individuals today.
The good news is that we can change. What inspired me to be an intentional shopper has been the journey of creating my own brand and understand what it is that has happened and why. Understanding the market structure - the whole market including ethics and environmental sustainability. But also, how unfair consumer pricing sets the rules for a whole market which has destroyed our view on value and how pressure from shareholders is creating a business climate where profitability must be prioritized overall. All these things have made me urge for a different and better way.
2014 New York Times published a piece comparing pricing between 1986-2013 on consumer goods in relation to apparel and the result clearly spoke for itself. While pricing on consumer goods in total has increased with about 110% apparel has stagnated at +20%. At the same time the apparel share of a household’s total expenses is smaller – even though we shop more than ever. We are simply used to pay too little and we compare apples and oranges when choosing between fast fashion and truly sustainable brands. To make cheap apparel and accessories brands cut costs. Items are made somewhere else where people work under conditions that we would never accept for anybody close to us. Production damages the soil and waters in a way we would never let happen close to our own homes.
When we shop, we need to feel the power we have as consumers. And that feeling of power must be stronger than the urge for a black top on a discount. Elisabeth Pape (founder of Elizabeth Suzann) wrote a text to challenge her customers to think about the relationship they build with the businesses they buy from. She writes: “Relationships based on trust and that are rooted in shared beliefs and deepened with real actions” – it is so beautiful! That is exactly what I want both as a consumer and a brand. The power we have as individuals is to start shopping with what I’d like to call Intention. Me and my co-founder Joanna Bark wants to share our best and most enjoyable tips on how to start your Journey of Intention:
- Go through your wardrobe and see what you have already got, by categorizing your clothes after season and store what you don’t need during the current season. It will also be an important and meaningful act to take down the next seasons items and go through it.
- Try to connect with your true emotions in relation to shopping. For many people shopping is a way to fill a need for something else. If you have an important work experience you buy something that makes you feel successful or if you are going to a party you want to wear a fun new outfit. But then think again, will it really make a difference? Go do something good for your soul instead, when you are inspired and in peace with yourself that is when you will truly enjoy both events above and most other occasions as well.
- Delete and unsubscribe from all newsletters that promotes fast shopping decisions.
- Look away from the stores that wants your attention. When you need them, you’ll come to them - not the other way around.
- Look at the label describing the material in your clothes and Google it if you don’t know what it means. It really is quite simple! This summer I was about to shop an expensive “Linen top”- When reading the label I discovered it was only 12% linen and the rest was polyester. I would have hated the feel of that top. The lesson here is also: it is not good because it’s expensive and/or promoted in a genuine beautiful way.
- I know that this is a bigger commitment to make but look at who owns the brand, not just who runs it or is the face of the brand. Is it someone who shares your values? As brand owners we have defined our own Slow Fashion vows (find them here!)
- We, both founders Elena & Joanna) are in the middle of a no shopping experience for the rest of 2019 and we highly recommend it. It is like detox for the soul and a chance to get in touch with the difference between need and want.
The conclusion we are getting to is that we need to make shopping important and make it mean something. Treasure the act and let it take time. Call it minimalism, capsule wardrobes, sustainable shopping or another beautiful word – the key is to make it important. When you care you make time for planning, asking questions and that process is also what makes you love and take care of your treasures.
We'd love to hear from you and to get questions and thoughts on this so don’t hesitate to comment or get back to us if any questions occurs.