In this blog we'll explore what exactly constitutes a Wellbeing Wardrobe, why they matter and how you keep moving towards one (and away from nasty fossil fashion).
What is a Wellbeing Wardrobe?
In a nutshell, a Wellbeing Wardrobe is where you buy fewer, better quality clothes to benefit people and planet.
The idea of a Wellbeing Wardrobe was coined by a team of researchers at the University of Technology Sydney.
In our recent report, we propose the idea of a wellbeing wardrobe, a new way forward for fashion in which we favour human and environmental wellbeing over ever-growing consumption of throwaway fast-fashion.
What would that look like? It would mean each of us cutting how many new clothes we buy by as much as 75%, buying clothes designed to last, and recycling clothes at the end of their lifetime.
The Wellbeing Wardrobe also comes from the idea of the 'wellbeing economy', where our daily livelihoods, goods and services do not compromise our personal or planetary health.
You might have already heard terms like a 'capsule' or 'minimalist' wardrobe and in many respects a Wellbeing Wardrobe is similar in that it encourages people to buy fewer clothes.
Perhaps where it differs is that it is really focussed on wellbeing. Unlike certain new 'sustainable' capsule wardrobe collections...
Is a Wellbeing Wardrobe Greenwashing?
We've just recently seen Kourtney Kardashian become Sustainability Ambassador for fast-fashion brand Boohoo. As part of her role, she released her first 'sustainable' capsule collection for Boohoo. This consists of items like £10 'slouch fit joggers' made using 50% recycled polyester and 50% REEL cotton. That's an acronym, not a typo, that stands for Responsible, Environment, Enhanced Livelihoods...
Boohoo have a partnership with CottonConnect where they are "training the cotton farmers in more sustainable production techniques". Ok, great, this is affordable clothing that at least tries to make use of waste. Boohoo even encourage shoppers to "think re-wear, re-sell, share, swap and donate". Cool!
But do you need to buy brand new clothes to build a sustainable capsule wardrobe? Absolutely not. Nor do you need a reality TV star's name in each product title to drum up demand.
A Wellbeing Wardrobe vs a Capsule Wardrobe
We're not saying you can't have both! But enjoying fashion responsibly doesn't mean you suddenly have to chuck out all your clothes and just live in the same pair of eco-friendly jeans and a hemp T-Shirt all the time.
Fast fashion brands could still tap into Wellbeing Wardrobes to give people the opportunity to buy more 'sustainable' new clothes. If this made shoppers cut down their clothing consumption by 75% then fast or fossil fashion brands would be slightly less problematic in terms of creating mountains of waste. Would these brands be able to churn out super cheap but high quality, ethical clothing though? The issues of fast and fossil fashion cover a whole multitude of vices.
11 Tips for Creating and Maintaining a Wellbeing Wardrobe Second Hand
- Got a super high budget? Consider investing in the highest quality designer brands, but be wary of fakes. Best to shop using a trusted shop or platform, Vestiaire Collective, for instance.
- Even if you don't have a big budget, you can still find some super pieces that will last you forever. Keep tabs on your local charity shop or second hand store for when they restock! Otherwise, search for your favourite brands online.
- But be careful where you shop online. A recent study found that eBay was actually the cheapest platform when compared to Vinted and Depop when tested against 20 of the most popular preloved items. No one site is cheaper for every item of course. It is always worth researching and trying different alternatives to the likes of eBay, Depop and Vinted.
- What kinds of clothes do you wear the most? It's worth doing a wardrobe 'audit' and deciding if there any gaps or any clothes that you could re-sell or donate.
- Do you NEED to buy something? The Wellbeing Wardobe is all about trying to reduce your fashion consumption. Maybe you could rent something for a special occasion instead?
- Always keep an eye out for charity shops, second hand shops and vintage stores on your travels, you never know what you might find!
- A Wellbeing Wardrobe isn't just about buying less, it's about what you do with clothes when they get damaged, no longer fit or you fall out of love with. No clothes should ever end up in the bin!
- Even when clothes reach the end of their lives you could upcycle them.
- Maintaining a Wellbeing Wardrobe means sharpening up your repair and mending skills.
- Can you get something alterated? You might be able to save some clothing that you love but just can't quite get into anymore!
- You could even try swapping clothes with a friend or family member. There are lots of exciting new swapping apps like Dopplle and Untagged that are also worth a try.
Why Do We Need Wellbeing Wardrobes?
You're already building a Wellbeing Wardrobe. Most of us will have those favourite jackets, tops, skirts and shoes we like to wear. So in a way we've already curated our own little capsule collections. But how long do these clothes stay our favourites? The issue is we can quickly get bored when addicted to a regular fashion fix. The buzz and novelty of wearing something new-to-you only lasts so long. Which, coupled with never-ending marketing and sales means that may start piling up clothes that you never end up wearing.
This doesn't make you a bad person.
It's all about realising at some point that you don't need to chase that fix. This is why we need to embrace the Wellbeing Wardrobe to cherish the clothes we have and to swap and exchange them when we're done with them. Bye bye big pile of unwanted clothes!