The #haulternative: creative challenges for the sustainable fashionista

It’s Fashion Revolution Week: a time to raise awareness of the ugly side of fast fashion and use our voice to bring positive changes in the fashion industry. Fashion Revolution invites you to ask brands ‘Who made my clothes?’ and demand transparency and fairness in the supply chain, and good conditions for the people who make our clothes. They also encourage you to ‘fall back in love with the clothes you already own’ and to try a #haulternative instead of a shopping haul. I am a big fan of this movement; I believe in supporting ethical brands, practices that are kind to people and to the environment, and initiatives to reduce waste. I also love the fact that these conscious choices can make you look beyond catalogs and ‘how to wear it’ guides and really choose for yourself and get creative with your outfits. I’m all about customization and chances to create, so I thought I’d join in this week and share some tips and thoughts.

I am half minimalist and half fashion lover. I love fashion from a creative point of view: the ideas, innovations and skills that make a garment, a look, a fashion photo shoot or a runway show. I have worked in and around fashion a lot so I am often up to date on trends and designers’ news. Personally, I have always used fashion as a form of creative expression. I was that rebel teen with strange colored hair and an alternative look, wanting my clothes to tell a story and to shout out how different I was. I have somehow followed some trends, but only when they suited my image of myself. I probably spent a ridiculous amount of time looking at clothes, picking my outfits, going on shopping trips with friends, in the past, until… I slowly stopped enjoying it.

My minimalist tendencies began years ago, way before the Konmari method was a thing. Somewhere between regular packing for trips and moving houses at least once a year, owning lots of clothes became an actual problem. My wardrobe shrunk gradually with every move, while I lost interest in shopping for clothes, started prioritizing other ways to use my time and money, discovered sustainable fashion and explored conscious alternatives to buying new. I have always liked shopping second hand, but only recently I have started thinking about it from an eco-friendly perspective. I am not one of those people who only wear black and white because it simplifies your choices: I love bold colors, patterns and unusual pieces, but I make it all work with a more conscious (and practical) approach. And I’m a crafty person, so I tend to think that making something myself if I can is more fun than buying.

If you are on your journey to sustainable+minimalist awesomeness, you might have already tried these things: choose good quality pieces that last longer and you won’t have to replace in a few months, give away anything that doesn’t fit you (and you are not going to alter), doesn’t flatter you, and you haven’t worn in forever, find pre-loved items at charity shops and swap parties. Nice. Now you know exactly what’s in your closet, have reduced the time you spend putting together an outfit, you don’t need to run to the shops and buy new clothes every month, and you don’t have all those unworn pieces to feel bad about. It’s great! Except…there are times you get bored. Maybe the new season just started, and you feel like wearing something new; or, the opposite, the season seems to never end, like when it’s been a blur of autumn-winter cold grey days, weeks and months, and the thought of putting on the same warm sweater and coat is depressing. What to do now? I think there are some challenges you can try to stay away from the shops while getting creative and having fun. Here are my haulternatives:

Find 5 items you own that you are not so happy about, and figure out a way to improve them – maybe you have something hidden at the bottom of your drawer because it has a tear or a stain and you’ll deal with it ‘another day’. Find it and fix it. Maybe you have something that has become a bit boring and could be improved with embellishments. Start now. Tonight. This weekend. Then take your project with you: mending or embellishing is something you can do in your lunch break, on your commute, after dinner, while you watch TV or Skype your mom. (Yes, people might stare if you are sewing on the train. It’s okay. Embrace your weirdness.) Or maybe find something you only wear with certain pieces and try styling it differently: this will only take you about 30 minutes trying things on in front of a mirror and you will feel super clever once you figure out some new combinations you’d never thought of before.

Raid your mother’s/aunt’s/older relative’s closet. Seriously. Before fast fashion, clothes used to be made to last. Often you’ll find that someone in your family has kept some amazing piece from when they were younger that they don’t wear anymore, and they would be super happy if you did. You might want to give it a little update or alter it to fit you, but that shouldn’t require a lot of work. Decades ago clothes were also just generally designed better, and, once you find a style that works for you, you’ll feel great in them. This is also a chance to get out of your comfort zone and get creative styling a vintage piece with other items you already own. Have fun!

Find an unexciting item in your wardrobe and turn it into something else. You know it’s been there forever, it has made it through the steps of your decluttering process but it’s neither one of your trusty basics, nor occasion wear, nor one of your fun items to wear on a happy day. It’s just…meh. Maybe it’s a style you are bored with now. It’s okay. You can transform it into something that you will enjoy wearing! The Web is full of upcycling tutorials that teach you how to turn practically anything into something different. T-shirts seem to be the most popular item to upcycle – I suspect a lot of people actually secretly hate them and have come up with all sorts of ways to make them look like anything but a t-shirt. Go look at your tees, I’m sure you too have at least one you don’t like. Maybe you can turn it into a bag or a scarf. I like turning dresses into separates. Many of these things can be done with minimal sewing skills, and some do not require any sewing at all.

Mix things up. Break your own fashion rules. You might not call them rules, but we all have our individual preferences, habits, favorite color combinations or default uses for certain items that make up our personal style. Pieces that we only wear to work/to the gym/on a day off, colors that we tend to wear on a particular season, colors that we never wear together, but when you feel like you’re always wearing the same things, it might be time to shake up your style and do something different. It might take you some time to test new things and find what works, but give it a try, it’s fun and liberating!

Have you tried anything similar? What are your #haulternatives?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s