Fashion Revolution Week 2020: How to spend less and make your wardrobe more sustainable

By Tara McCabe ·

Fashion Revolution Week might be drawing to a close, but here at Mozo we think there are plenty of ways we can both embrace sustainable clothing all year round and spend less on our wardrobes.

Whether you’re into high-end fashion or you simply want something to keep you warm, where you get your clothes from is something you’ve probably had to think about at some point.

So how can you get involved?

Well in line with Fashion Revolution’s very clear mission, to revolutionise the industry so that it no longer harms people or the planet, we’ve come up with six ways for you to not only spend less on clothes, but also make sure your wardrobe has a much more ethical flavour.

1. Choose quality over quantity

According to a report published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it’s estimated that more than 50% of fast fashion clothing is disposed of by the original purchaser in less than one year. This is most likely due to the low quality of the fabrics and the fact that under-paid garment workers are forced to churn out items quickly and do not have enough time to take care over their work.

So, while a $4 T-shirt might seem like an appealing option for your bank account in the short term, the truth is that not only do these unrealistically cheap clothing items come at the cost of people and the planet, they are also unlikely to last you that long.

Buying better quality items less often is not only more ideal for your own peace of mind, but also to keep your savings account looking healthy. As suggested by Livia Firth’s company Eco-Age, the general rule when buying any new item of clothing is to ask yourself: ‘Will I wear this at least 30 times?’

2. Prioritise pre-loved

With global fast fashion retailers squeezing supply chains and selling new items at such low prices, checking out the local op or vintage shop may have fallen by the wayside for a few of us. After all, why buy something second-hand when you can get something new for the same price? The answer is twofold: Choosing pre-loved can not only give an item of clothing a second life, it can also be a great way to grab yourself a bargain on some good quality vintage pieces.

In fact, researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University have noted a reduction in clothing quality over the years due to the elimination of product development and quality control, all in the name of a super-fast turnaround and the ability to meet consumer demand*.

So, second-hand clothing tends to actually stand the test of time.

RELATED: How to save money and stay ethical

3. Don’t be afraid of custom made

Ever since ready-to-wear clothing was introduced to the world in the 19th Century, the notion of custom made is one that can feel very out of reach for many. Having something made for you almost seems like a decadence that many of us wouldn’t even consider nowadays.

That said, made to measure is actually making a comeback and it’s not just for the rich and famous either. Many small, slow fashion brands now base their entire business model around only making to order. This way they can both eliminate textile waste and sew something for you that fits you right.

Textile waste is a huge environmental problem. In the 2017 ABC series ‘War on Waste’, it was revealed that Australians throw out 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every ten minutes, adding to the world’s increasingly overflowing landfills.

So, by opting for made to measure rather than ready to wear, you’ll not only be helping to eliminate textile waste, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a garment that is made just for you. 

4. Make do and mend

As a society all too used to everything being ‘disposable’ the concept of ‘make do and mend’ has become almost alien to us. But the truth is learning some simple sewing skills could save you some serious dollars in the long run. 

Rather than tossing out your shirt when the seam comes loose or a button falls off, why not get yourself a basic sewing kit and practice stitching. There are so many YouTube tutorials, guides and online resources to take advantage of these days, you can pretty much teach yourself anything!

Another thing you might like to think about is altering your clothes. If you have a skirt or a pair of pants that are a little daggy, then why not give them a new lease of life? 

RELATED: 5 ways taking part in the circular economy could help you save money

5. Look for the staple ingredients

Chances are you have at least one item of clothing hanging in your wardrobe that has only ever been worn once. Maybe it was an impulse buy and the charm wore off pretty quickly or maybe you simply don’t have anything that goes with it. Either way having a few good quality staple pieces in your wardrobe can help.

Knowing your style and investing in a few choice, sustainable staples such as a classic white t-shirt or a pair of black pants, can ensure that you don’t buy clothes you’ll never wear. You can think of these items as enablers - simple items of clothing that allow you to show off something a bit fancier and brighter.

6. Care for your clothes

As Jane Austen once wrote, ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged that loved clothes last.’ Well perhaps she didn’t quite write that, but the point is how you care for your clothes can really make a difference.

Here are a few tips on how to care for your clothes in a way that will make them last:

  • Wash less. Although it may be tempting to wash your clothes after every wear, it isn’t always totally necessary. Washing your clothes too often can wear them out, damage the fibres and reduce their overall lifespan. So, before you throw your t-shirt in the machine, why not do a sniff test to see if it actually needs a wash. If you haven’t been doing anything heavy duty and you didn’t wear it for long, you could just hang it up to air for a few hours.
  • Wash at a lower temperature. Washing over 30 degrees too many times can damage garments and cause shrinkage, reducing the overall wearability and lifespan of the item.
  • Take heed when storing your clothes. Whether you keep your clothes in the closet or folded up in a drawer, how you store a garment can really have an effect on its lifespan. Keep your clothes in a cool, dry place to reduce the risk of mould and make sure clothes are clean before storing. Ensure zips are done up when hanging to avoid snags and fold heavier items like knitted jumpers so that they don’t stretch.
  • Make bicarb soda your new best friend. Bicarbonate of soda is like a wonder ingredient of natural cleaning products. You can use it to reduce yellow sweat stains on clothes or even to buff up old shoes. Countless guides on treating your clothes and shoes with bicarbonate of soda are just a Google search away.

Once you take on all these tips for increasing the lifespan of your wardrobe and investing wisely, you will probably find that you spend less on clothes. More money in your bank account means more opportunity to save, the question is do you have a savings account that can handle your new thrifty habits? 

Why not head to Mozo’s compare savings accounts page to see what kind of interest you could be bagging or take a look at the accounts below if you only have time for a quick gander. Maybe we’ll even see you digging around at your local op-shop once social distancing is over!

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*Fast fashioning the supply chain: shaping the research agenda, Liz Barnes & Gaynor Lea-Greenwood, 2006.

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Tara McCabe
Money writer

Tara McCabe writes across all areas of personal finance here at Mozo from banking through to insurance. Tara is expert at practical money tips, showing readers ways to live richer and be socially conscious while doing it. She earned a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Canterbury Christ Church University.