• Fashion

This is how you create a sustainable wardrobe

4 tips for breathing new life into old clothes 

By Valentina Zarew 

Did you know it takes 2475 litres of water, or the equivalent of eight glasses of water a day, for four years to make a designer organic cotton t-shirt? Throw in energy consumption of the factory, transportation and logistics and all of a sudden the impact of one garment adds up. Scary, isn’t it?

Whether it’s creating a capsule wardrobe, operating under the sartorial rule of #30wears or doing a cost per wear (CPW) formula, we each have our way of rationalising our purchases. 

And while these aforementioned philosophies all form a sustainable outlook, to be truly engaged in our clothing purchases it’s also important to consider the processes that go into making our clothes too.

So, how do we keep CPW down, and get the most out of each garment so it doesn’t break the environmental or financial bank? Whilst bringing us the joy a well made, beautiful piece of clothing can? 

1. Reduce consumption  

Make your purchases considered. It’s always best to think about quality over quantity, look into each designer and understand their philosophy and approach to what they are putting out there. You will find some that really align with your values, so invest in them. Have a think about how each piece will fit with your existing wardrobe, is there really a point in having three similar items?  With the help of technology, there are some great apps that assist you in this process, check out Closet+. If you are looking for a piece that is for a specific occasion, look into renting. Two of my favourite rental companies are Glamcorner and Rentr

2. Extend the life through care

This is HUGE. According to Traide, wearing your clothes for an extra nine months can reduce the environmental impact of that garment by around 20 per cent to 30 per cent. Be sure to care for each garment – extending its life is the best way to reduce the impact of that piece of clothing on the environment. Check the label of the garment – they have been developed to offer you the best way to care for them. Also, check out Clever Care for some detailed information. 

3. Invest and reinvest

Make your clothing work for you. The rise of technology and the collaborative consumption movement provides the perfect framework to get that CPW down. Investing in an item that is going to last but may sit in your wardrobe waiting for the next special occasion can be offset by swapping, selling or renting it out. Take a look at some Facebook community pages. Ebay has always been around but there are some new and innovative ways to sell your preloved items including a favourite of mine, Airrobe


If you are actually just done with the garment and the above solutions don’t suit, you can always donate. Typically we have had the Salvation Army, Red Cross and others. However there’s a new player in the market, Upparell a Victorian based start-up that is working to find solutions to textile waste from brands and the community. Register to recycle your textiles and they will be utilised to develop new products and work towards appropriate recycling methods. 

Valentina is a sustainability expert, with among other accreditations a certificate of sustainability from the University of Bath. She is focussed on working with the brands of the future to help shape their strategy, sustainability framework, stories and partnerships. You can connect with her at [email protected], or follow her on Instagram.  @valya___z

Love her work? You can support her here.

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