OK, Gang. Here’s the deal: A few weeks ago, I was scrolling though Instagram. And since I follow a ton of activists (as well as pretty, pretty IG accounts), my list was a mish-mash of posts about the Amazon Rainforest (the “lungs of the planet”) being — literally — on fire, as well as influencers — like me —talking about their latest fast-fashion haul.
It didn’t sit well. And hasn’t for quite some time.
We’re all well aware of this conflict, over here at TME, but like most of the industry, it’s difficult to change our approach to the industry when the industry itself isn’t changing. And while I can easily argue (and have) that The Mom Edit has always been focused on helping people get more out of their existing wardrobes (most of our articles could simply be used for ideas, not shopping)…we wanted to do something more intentional.
So we’re having a ceremony and announcing it to the world: The Mom Edit is committing to sustainability.
What this means: In addition to our newly created Sustainable Style Page, you’ll be seeing many more intentional ‘Shop Your Closet’ articles. More ideas on how to wear items you already own. We’ll be covering more secondhand stores (ThreadUp, for example) and our favorite clothing rental subscriptions. We’re also going to try and do a much better job of educating you (and ourselves) about which brands and retailers have also committed to creating sustainable products. (And the best part? Many are brands or retailers we already love.) We’ve also created a shopping index (with product recommendations) if you do want to shop for something new…but you want to shop more responsibly. See the Sustainable Style Page for that, as well.
What this DOESN’T mean: Everything is changing and we’ll never focus on fast fashion again. Nope. We’re not saying goodbye to our (tongue-in-cheek) ‘shopping enabler’ nickname. Neither are we abandoning our core value of inclusivity. All are welcome at The Mom Edit — no matter your budget or proclivity for fast fashion. Instead, we simply want to help everyone – ourselves included – be more thoughtful and, frankly, picker in our shopping choices. No matter where we choose to shop.
TRUTH: this is going to be — it is — a convoluted process. You should’ve see Lex and I, hunched over our old school notebooks, pens scribbling, hashing out what constitutes “good enough” to deem a company (or its products) sustainable. It’s hard. Some companies are strong in overall sustainable practices (like Adidas), while others produce earth-friendlier products by establishing water-saving or chemical waste goals (like AG). And it’s messy. There’s a lot of trust involved, because there is, quite frankly, a lack of transparency. Transparency is key to really knowing if a company or its products are actually sustainable.
So. We’re weeding through this whole sustainable fashion (aka circular fashion, earth-friendlier fashion, low-impact fashion) with you. We have some resources here, and Lex is providing more in Unpacking, because you may have to do some digging. We are not experts (nor can we play one on TV). We have to trust the companies (and the media) that the retailers, brands, and products highlighted are as sustainable as their words (and pictures) tell us they are.
The Mom Edit’s Approach To Sustainable Fashion
Here’s where we stand: we care about transparency. Transparency in terms of sustainability is like honesty in a relationship. It’ll be harder for us to support or promote a brand as eco-friendly if their actions are unclear or they engage in greenwashing (making unsubstantiated claims about their earth-friendliness).
We care about actual actions. Goals are nice, and we support those, but we want to see retailers or brands who’ve taken actual steps towards earth-friendliness, in addition to forward-facing goals. If we don’t call out a brand as sustainable, it’s either because we don’t know (remember, we’re not experts) or because we haven’t been able to verify their claims. Feel free to share with us if you have, though.
We care about sustainable labor practices — meaning ethical labor practices, actions that protect women, who happen to make up the vast majority of garment workers. We know it may seem fuzzy how this connects to the climate crisis — it’s one of the reasons the Green New Deal is so controversial, in the way it links social justice — but a fast fashion model inherently relies on paying low wages, high-output (often only possible when unsafe labor practices are involved), a lack of transparency (brands or designers not knowing where or how their garments are being produced), and a high-risk of harassment, abuse or potential harm to the workers — basically nothing that’s good for the planet.
Keep in mind, sustainability isn’t our only value. We also care about diversity and inclusivity — DUH. We like brands that feature models with hair colors other than blonde. We embrace retailers that feature up to size 24 or make an entire plus-size line. We forgot about Kate Moss, and we embrace brands who moved on from idolizing her body type (so ’90s). AND we prefer women on web pages to reflect the actual population of women on the planet — not just those from places like, uh….Norway (no offense to any of you gorgeous Scandinavians…or Cam, haha).
You will see some changes to the blog. A lot of these will include simply identifying if and when we consider an item or brand sustainable (OR eco-friendly OR earth-friendlier…or whatever other moniker comes into play). We’ll be throwing out terms (as we learn them ourselves), and becoming more intentional with our content.
We’re starting with education and familiarity. We’re starting with brands we know and love, and with upselling and re-using services we’ve all been hearing about; we’ve already been tackling recycling clothes, read that here and here. We’re scoping out and analyzing the extent to which suppliers are truth-telling, and engaging in a healthy dose of skepticism about greenwashing.
Getting Started With Sustainable Fashion
To start with, Vestiaire Collective has identified seven facets of circular fashion. So, if we mention something is sustainable, it most likely fits into one of the categories below. Sometimes these categories overlap, sometimes a product or brand does a couple of of these things well, and sometimes we don’t know more than This Product Fits Into One Category. SO, bear with us, and by all means, feel free to HELP.
- on-demand and custom-made
- green and clean;
- ethical and fair;
- high quality and timeless design;
- repair, redesign and upcycle;
- rent, swap and lease; or
- secondhand and vintage.
5 Resources For Understanding Eco-Friendly Fashion Now
1. Know Your Labels
CONSCIOUS FASHION LABELS AND CERTIFICATIONS — This page by the Conscious Fashion Collective is the best ad-free page. You can also check out the Sustainability Certification Guide by Apparel Entrepreneurship.
2. Understand Transparency
Fashion Transparency Index 2019 by Fashion Revolution — We HEART this resource. Produced annually by Fashion Revolution, it’s super-thorough. Keep in mind that not all companies actually complete the survey that makes them eligible to be scored, and that when we say a company is transparent, that means in relation to other fashion companies — the highest scores are still in the 60-70 percent range (Adidas, Esprit, Reebok, Levi’s, Patagonia and H&M).
3. Avoid Trashing Your Textiles
During the past year, we at The Mom Edit have published two guides to avoid throwing away your textiles: the 2019 guide is here, and the 2018 guide is here. Retailer recycling programs do change, so it’s worth your due diligence to check. The main thing to remember is that clothing waste is toxic, and putting clothes into landfills is just not to be done.
4. Educate Yourself On the 7 Facets of Circular Fashion
Download Vestiaire Collective’s Circular Fashion Guide – The link is not obvious, it’s about halfway down the page in a small box.
5. Learn More & Keep Track of Ethics In Fashion
EDGE — EDGExpo.com provides a magazine-style look at the paradigm shift from irresponsible, excessive production and consumption to one of environmental and ethical consciousness, cultural sensitivity, and storytelling. E D G E, the acronym of Emerging Designers Get Exposed, gives a voice to emerging designers [all across the globe] who are exhibiting design excellence in artistry, cultural significance, and sustainability. They are putting a cultural face, purpose, and environmental conscious to fashion. While exposing and elevating this curated design talent, E D G E fosters a global network of fashion industry professionals, educators, and the arts.
Don’t forget to check our sustainable shopping page, and share your wealth of knowledge with us (kindly). We’re in this together.