Why is Sustainable Fashion Important?

My old college roommate Kristin returned from India in December 2017 and without delay, at our first reuniting, talked at length about human rights violations in the fast fashion industry. Kristin was committed to starting the transition toward sustainable fashion and ethically sourced products. I was convicted also, but as someone who has expressed myself by what I wear, shopping ethically and sustainably while staying with trends seemed far out of reach. I had a specific fashion taste and ethical clothing companies encompassed a style I did not envision for myself. Yet, Kristin’s passion, commitment, example, and kindhearted suggestions inspired me to at least try. 

It was not long after our conversation that I started my journey towards ethical fashion.

kayleen-model-beachI made my first ethical purchases in May 2018. I purchased my nursing pinning ceremony dress and graduation dress from Mata Traders and Pact, respectively. When my search for affordable, ethically produced heels to match my dresses came up empty, I searched for alternative ways to shop sustainably. I quickly discovered Poshmark, a website that allows users to sell and purchase gently used clothing, think Plato’s Closet except you can search for exactly the item you are looking for. I was impressed with the cost-effectiveness and ease of shopping consignment, and so the summer and fall following graduation I purchased my clothes solely from Plato’s Closet and Poshmark.

I became further invested in my effort during the first COVID quarantine when I desired to change my closet and streamline my wardrobe. I prefer a minimalist closet in which pieces can be matched to create an assortment of looks; this reduced the number of items I needed to search for and purchase ethically. I used Pinterest to create an inspiration board then made a list of each piece I wanted to include in my wardrobe.

For most purchases, I used Poshmark as it was easy to search for an exact item. I found ethical brands through web searches, Instagram, and Visage Collective itself. I bought several items from Balance Athletica, a newer athletic clothing brand based out of Denver Colorado, and AGOLDE, a Los Angeles-based sustainable denim company. Additionally, I used the website and application Good On You to help evaluate the ethical quality of a brand. This is an especially useful tool for comparing practices of large-scale companies (i.e. Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Lululemon, Athleta) when wanting or needing to buy items not available at smaller brands or by consignment. Adidas, for example, has the highest rating in comparison to well-known athletic brands, thus I chose there to purchase my two pairs of athletic sneakers. I now have a wardrobe that I love, and full of practical, interchangeable, higher quality pieces.

Progress Over Perfection

In this journey, it was important for me to focus on gradual improvement rather than perfection. A closet does not always need an immediate overhaul. In fact, it may be less formidable and more practical, and cost-efficient to gradually replace wardrobe staples with ethically sourced alternatives. Even a greater awareness and evaluation of one’s own consumerism is noteworthy and an important first step towards change. My goal, then, is to inspire this deeper thought and consideration that may lead to action for others in the future and to give practical steps and tangible examples of how to begin this counter-cultural transition. Because above all, sustainable fashion choices go beyond our closets, they reflect justice and advocate for the vulnerable.



Kayleen is human-centric, passionate about culture and people. She lives and works as a registered nurse in Virginia Beach, VA.

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