At PNW Apparel, we focus on creating quality products that last a lifetime. Here’s what you should look for when shopping for sustainable clothing.
With as many clothing brands that claim to be “sustainable” or “eco-conscious,” it can be difficult to know which ones are truly utilizing sustainable production practices. It’s important to do your research beforehand, reading what quality clothing should be made of and how it should be made to be sustainable.
Unfortunately, fast fashion comes at a price for those manufacturing it around the world. In countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, China, and Bangladesh, among others, workers make as little at $40 USD per month. The working conditions in many of these factories are dangerous. A 2013 collapse of a factory in Bangladesh that left 1,000 workers dead is a recent example of the treacherous factory conditions.
An increasing number of brands are focusing on sourcing their products locally, and using natural fibers and dyes to create their clothing. PNW Apparel’s line of sustainable hats, hoodies, and shirts focuses on quality products made with natural fibers and priced fairly for an excellent and long-lasting article of clothing.
Keep reading for 6 things to keep in mind when purchasing sustainable clothing.
Hands-down, locally-sourced products are the most sustainable items you can purchase. Not only are you supporting local businesses with your dollars, but your item has taken up fewer precious resources to get from where it was produced to your closet. At the same time, buying locally means there is less packaging involved. Local items are also hand-selected to cater to their audiences, not based on national sales. For more information on purchasing local goods, read here.
Made With Natural Fibers
One of the most important things that sets sustainable clothing apart from fast fashion is that it;s made from eco-friendly fibers. It’s crucial to read the tag of the clothing you’re purchasing or do research on the company to learn what materials they use. Natural fibers to look for are organic cotton, linen, hemp, organic bamboo, alpaca, Lyocell (also sold as Tencel), organic wool, and silk. Each of these materials can be sourced ethically without the chemicals or pesticides that many crops are fertilized with. The best fabrics require little water to grow and are recyclable.
A Fair Price for an Excellent Product
Fast fashion is notoriously cheap. Inexpensive production costs mean companies can sell their products at incredibly cheap prices. However, as a general rule of thumb, the cheaper the product, the cheaper the material it’s made from. It will fade or tear sooner than something that is slightly more expensive and sustainably made. Price often reveals the quality of an article of clothing. Your closet should be filled with a handful of timeless pieces rather than items that will be thrown out after a year or less.
You can easily get a sense of the durability of a piece of clothing by its texture and inspecting the seams. A quality piece of clothing will be built durable and intended to last for several years of wear. Cheap products are meant to break down easily, thus prompting you to buy more items. Many sustainable products are built to last. This means time and effort went into their manufacturing process to create a truly great product to add to your wardrobe.
You might be surprised to learn that clothing produced with conventional dyes rubs those dyes off onto your skin. If you think this isn’t a problem, consider the workers who are regularly exposed to these dyes. After years of working in typical clothing factories, workers have reported developing a disease that causes layers of their skin to peel off due to the toxic dye. The more sustainable alternative to these toxic dyes is to use organic, natural dyes.
Fair Worker Wages
An easy way to investigate this topic when it comes to buying sustainable clothing is to know where a brand is sourcing their products from if they are not sourced locally. Independent research outside the brand can also prove useful. Arm yourself with knowledge about how workers are paid and on the working conditions in factories throughout the world.
Slowly transitioning to a sustainable wardrobe is one of the best ways you can support businesses that are making the effort to produce clothing items that are eco-friendly. Learning about fast fashion and the sustainable clothing industry is an excellent step in promoting these ethical and humane practices.