When I first started planning to design a collection of elevated women's casual and workwear, size-inclusivity rather than sustainability was my driving force, but the more I learned, the more committed I became to building an ethical brand while still offering more inclusive sizing. I found that many independent designers are at the forefront of innovative approaches to sustainable fashion and they are starting to turn the tide for larger fashion businesses. Still, as more designers and companies embrace eco-friendly fabrics and transparency around production practices, women’s plus size fashion is still extremely limited when it comes to sustainable luxury options.
As I researched ways to make my brand a more concrete reality, I learned startling facts about fast fashion—an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply. With the rise of online shopping and changing consumer habits, our closets have been filling up with synthetic clothes that often perform poorly over time, making them rapidly discarded into landfills. The production of these synthetic materials, which are typically made from fossil fuels, is also incredibly damaging and toxic, endangering the environment and people working in and living around the mills and factories where they are produced. Additionally, workers often are subjected to poor living and working conditions and unfair wages.
(See this New York Times article: Who Made Your Clothes?)
As it turns out, many eco-friendly fabrics are beautiful, comfortable and wrinkle-resistant! While clothes made ethically from these fabrics are more expensive, that cost is offset by a luxury quality garment that can be worn repeatedly (and is worth altering if needed). When coordinated with a few other pieces, you can create a thoughtful capsule wardrobe that looks stunning, feels great, and has the added perk of making you a fashion ally.
Beyond sourcing innovative and sustainable materials, another way we’re contributing to the responsible fashion movement at House of Stone is by building relationships with responsible production partners, ensuring quality through each step of the manufacturing process, and reducing waste by using small batch production and pre-orders
Here are some ways you can contribute to the responsible fashion movement:
Textile recycling. Recycling may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it seems easier to toss old clothes in the trash instead of a creating another task for yourself when you’re cleaning out your closet. Before you throw them away, consider the alternatives. Besides Goodwill or the Salvation Army, which are often overburdened with clothing donations, there are other ways to recycle or resell. Check out this article for ways to recycle old clothes, even underwear!
Shop Vintage. A great way to shop consciously and discover some unique finds is by shopping for vintage or gently used clothing at consignment stores, TheRealReal, thredUP, eBay and even a number of small businesses and Instagram shops specializing in curated vintage pieces. Bonus points for supporting small businesses and the secondhand industry which creates $1 billion in wages in the U.S. alone each year.
Support Small Business and Independent Designers. There are many established and emerging designers and clothing stores that are focused on equity and inclusion, sustainability, and ethical production. We still need more though, and the best way to ensure these options are available for everyone going forward is to buy from brands you trust that align with these values. Also, when you support local small businesses, you’re investing in your own community!
Do the Research and Vote with Your Wallet. We can advocate for a better world everyday through our spending habits. It may seem daunting to have to research every company you buy from, especially if you’re looking into a brand you already love and can’t find anything about their sourcing or manufacturing processes on their website. But to paraphrase Maya Angelou, “when you know better, do better.” Do the research, and ask brands questions about their practices. Changing the fashion industry starts with individual actions that collectively lead to bigger impact.