How to Follow Trends in a Sustainable Way

Following Trends In A Sustainable Way

To a certain extent, fashion trends are unavoidable. Even if you have a clearly defined personal style, thrift for your clothes, and ignore fast fashion; you will inevitably be affected by current trends in some way or another. You're just not always aware when it's happening. We can only buy the clothes that are available to us, and those clothes are always affected by current trends (even the ones made by sustainable brands) and the people who surround us.

Many of us would say we wear "whatever we want", and while that may be true, the 'whatever we want' is still influenced by many different things, from who we follow on social media to runway shows. If we ask ourselves why we are drawn to wearing certain items of clothing or specific outfits, it can always be traced back to a style influenced by a trend whether we were aware of it or not.

Trends begin on runways, in street style, and on social media. Our personal style is inspired by the people we follow online, popular TV shows, global and niche trends, and the clothing that is available to us. We're conditioned to dress in a certain way to fit in with the people we relate to or aspire to be, and the style we want to reflect. It's no surprise then, at some point, our style has been influenced by fashion trends even if those trends aren't obvious.

If trends are unavoidable, then how can we follow them in a sustainable way? It's not always about the clothing you buy but the way you style them. You can save money by shopping your own wardrobe, buy vintage items to reduce waste, or switching up your jewellery to keep your outfits up to read. Keep reading for more tips on following fashion trends sustainably.

Update With Jewellery

A huge part of seasonal fashion trends are the accessories, and one of the best ways to participate in them is to update your outfits with jewellery. Jewellery can completely change how an outfit looks and feels. Layering chains, stacking rings, and earring pairs can make an old outfit suddenly look on-trend even if your clothes don't. Try to use the accessories you already own or mix in a few new timeless jewellery pieces purchased new or second-hand. With jewellery it's much easier to keep up with trends in a sustainable way.

Follow the runway shows and pay attention to the jewellery trends. You'll notice the same styles are cycled through much more frequently each season so you're almost always have something that works for keeping your outfits on-trend. There's typically a focus on either gold or silver jewellery, statement or minimal designs, simple chains or raw gemstones. One season might focus on earrings, the next on rings.

Restyle Outfits

Runway trends focus on concepts rather than specific items. Whereas fast fashion brands draw focus onto "must-have" trend pieces so you feel pressured into buying them. Unfortunately, that trickle down effect means you're more likely to feel your wardrobe is lacking. If you want to participate in seasonal trends, it all comes down to how you style your clothes; incorporating the new with the old.

Before you buy anything new, shop your wardrobe first. See if anything you already own could be restyled to fit the trend and style you're inspired by. Look at trend forecasting reports from places like Vogue, and Harpers Bazaar, and street style blogs like The Sartorialist and Street Peeper for inspiration. Even if you're on the hunt for a specific clothing piece or accessory, check your wardrobe first - you might be surprised with what you find there, especially if you haven't decluttered your wardrobe in a while.

Shop Second-Hand

Fashion is cyclical. Any current trend has either happened before or has been inspired by one. You can often buy the latest catwalk trends second-hand before the fast fashion brands have even produced their clothing. If you're fast enough, you can get ahead of the curve before prices of on-trend pre-owned items have jumped in price. True vintage items will be of higher quality too.

Thrift for these items in charity shops and you'll find true vintage gems at great prices. It might take a while to find what you're looking for so if you have something specific in mind, search online marketplaces and consignment stores. Prices will be higher but so will your chances of finding exactly what you want. This guide to thrifting is packed full of second-hand shopping tips.

Swap, Borrow, or Rent Clothing

If you know a trend will be short-lived or you want to test it out before committing to any purchases; a more sustainable solution for following fashion trends is to borrow clothes or rent them. That way you won't end up with anything you don't actually need or won't wear. You can participate in a trend without sending anything to landfill. It's likely older family members will remember when a trend was popular the first time round, and have authentic clothing for you to borrow.

When you're sure you'll wear an outfit even when it's not "on-trend", a clothing swap is a good option for getting your hands on the items you want. There are several online 'swap shops' as well as in-person events, which you can search locally for on Eventbrite. Alternatively, set one up yourself, invite your friends and family to swap clothing with each other. It's one of the best ways to avoid unnecessary purchases and save clothing from landfill.

Buy Responsibly-Made Clothes

If you've got your heart set on a specific item that can't be purchased second-hand or found in your friend's wardrobe; the last resort is to make a responsible purchase from a sustainable brand. Just make sure that what you're about to purchase is can be style in many different ways, fits with your existing wardrobe, and is versatile enough to outlast the current trend.

Finding affordable, size-inclusive sustainable brands that make clothes in a style you like can be difficult. This sustainable fashion brand directory will help. One thing to bear in mind is that sustainability is a sliding scale. Every brand can be criticised in some way for falling short in their businesses practices. The most important thing is making considered choices about what we buy so nothing is wasted.

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