From Sustainable Fashion Designer To Everyday Consumer: How My Attitude Towards Conscious Fashion Has Changed

From Sustainable Fashion Designer To Everyday Consumer: How My Attitude Towards Conscious Fashion Has Changed

I recently made the decision to take a step back from being a sustainable fashion designer, following years of working within the conscious clothing industry. The nuance of what makes clothing ‘sustainable’ leads many to feel conflicted on what approach to take with their wardrobe, myself included. I thought I’d take some time to share how my own perspective (errors and finances included) has evolved over the years, hoping to make way for a judgement free conversation that you might wish to contribute to!

Pre-Industry Life

The concept of sustainability first fascinated me whilst I was in college 7 years ago. Between Textiles and History of Art lessons I got more involved in the fashion aspect of my studies, with sustainable fashion becoming a real hot topic within the news.

I got my first job as an escape room host (it’s certainly a talking point on my CV) and I felt all the wealth an 18 year old could feel raking in £200 a month alongside my studies. That first step into making my own money felt like so much freedom, especially when it came to what I could buy.

I remember starting my blog and becoming fixated on sustainable fashion: exploring new designers and discovering the ways they were trying to create more eco-friendly clothing. Despite some of the garments being a bit out of my budget at the time, I was determined to attain some of these pieces in future, whilst being content with conscious charity shopping.

Student Loan In A Pandemic

As I finished college and got accepted onto a Fashion Design course, the start of Covid-19 meant all hopes of days in the studio quickly came to a halt and my resources were limited to what I had at home. With how constricted I felt with my work for university, I took my focus elsewhere and put all my efforts into sustainable fashion.

Given the amount of spare time we were faced with, I quickly became obsessed with fashion in this way and with hindsight it’s easy to see where the actions became contradictory. As determined as I was to have a curated, conscious wardrobe, the combination of financial freedom and lack of responsibility meant I didn’t think twice about ‘earth-friendly’ yet still seemingly endless purchases.

Although majority of the ‘bigger’ investments I still have and love today, I didn’t fully step away from fast fashion and many items of which I can honestly say are no longer in my possession. Despite the latter category as a whole being an immediate no-no today, I’m partial to the understanding that these pieces served a purpose for myself and my body at that time, and the decision to pass them on in hopes of extending their lifeline is still okay.

Hindsight is a powerful thing, and maybe if my mid-20s self were able to tell my then early adult self that most items won’t fit/work/be worth it in time to come, it would be a different story. The pandemic was a weird time and I won’t be too harsh on myself, but it’s certainly gave me the perspective of questioning how an item will work for future versions of me.

All Day Working, No Time Spending

Getting my first industry job for a ‘sustainable’ brand gave me the satisfaction of doing my bit. Although I was on minimum wage, commuting 7-7, had no time to see my friends or family, I was in a role that at the time I felt was at the top of my morals list.

Transitioning to quitting said job and starting on my own didn’t make a whole lot of difference for my bank account. Although I was running a one woman show without the added costs of train fees and meal deals morning noon and night, my income wasn’t enough to cover minimum wage never mind added luxuries of fancy purchases.

The only new additions to my wardrobe were the samples I was making for the brand, which couldn’t have been a better transaction for my own benefit. Everything was carefully made to my exact wishes and measurements, from top end deadstock fabrics that didn’t skimp on quality. Even without the funds to prove it, alongside every box ticked, less than a handful of new additions to the wardrobe per season were more than enough.


Skip The Stitch: Bar Work and The Present Day

These days I’m just working an everyday job and the only sewing I’ll be doing is for the personal projects I may take up. I’m set with a plethora of dreamy dresses and thus I’m looking for minimal wardrobe expansion to suit my everyday life. Any investments going forward are (hopefully) going to be trusted with the experience of knowing the ins and outs of garment construction and the true value of material composition, not forgetting the little anecdotes of “does this piece serve me” or “how will this look on me in 5 years”.

My years in the industry have made me closer to other fashion designers within my sector, giving me go-to favourites in areas like Evie Joynes for cute loungewear and Veronica Velveteen for the comfiest undies. I’ve had my fair share in both of these brands and I can honestly say they stand the test of time, so should my pieces expire I know exactly where to go for more.

In terms of luxury investments, I’m only weighing up pieces that are part of the furniture on my general wishlist, once the bills are paid and the house is saved for. These days I prefer to opt for treats in the forms of experiences; whether it be a coffee made by my favourite barista, or a little getaway to Paris next April with my love. That being said, should all pots be filled and there be money leftover from Christmas, I think the Charles & Keith Mary Janes in red would be a lovely little gap filler within my wardrobe.

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