With the start of a new year, why not reconsider your purchasing habits. Now, more than ever we as consumers need to be considerate of our impact socially and environmentally. We tend to be engulfed by skewed media and marketing, that we lose focus on what we can incorporate in our daily lifestyles in order to make a sustainable difference.

With the increasing development of technology and advance of social media, we know the ‘latest fashion trends’ straight from the seasonal catwalks. These popular trends are then immediately reworked into affordable designs for the high-street brands. When these designs go into production, cheaper materials are often used to ensure a low product cost. Cheaper materials result in a low life expectancy of the product. We as consumers need to understand that this cycle of fast fashion is not a sustainable model. We need to be prepared to purchase sustained quality products, with a slight higher price, but at least we know that the product will last longer.

Have you considered looking into smaller businesses, where the products are often handmade with care and in unique designs? When purchasing a handmade product from a smaller business, you are also buying a story with a connection between the makers and their products. To be fashionable is to show your individuality, not to replicate a look and become a clone. If you start to incorporate unique items created from smaller businesses into your wardrobe, you are evidentially building a collection of clothing that reflects who you are and not what the media dictates you to wear. You should wear what makes you comfortable and confidant, and not be persuaded to wear what is on ‘trend’.

When purchasing from a smaller business, there are often fewer people involved in the supply chain; normally a transparent chain where each phase is sustained and nobody is exploited. With larger brands, the supply chain is so complex that it has become difficult to keep tabs on ensuring all steps are sustainable socially and environmentally. Workers are too often exploited; textiles are produced with cheaper alternatives that cause harm to the environment. With increasing consumerism consumption, we forget that there are so many factors behind that one shirt. We overlook the bigger picture, and its impacts. This is because as consumers, we demand the latest styles at a faster rate, pressurising the fashion supply chain to work within a shorter time frame; where short cuts are made to meet with increasing demand. These short cuts are often children working in horrific conditions instead of attending school, woman being mistreated, and fathers working longer hours to keep a roof over his family.

Next time you see that perfect shirt that you must have, even though you don’t need another shirt, consider this… Where was it made? Who made it? Were the workers treated fairly? What is the quality of the product like? How is it made? What percentage of the product cost actually influences how much the makers earn?

Is it sustainable?