What is Sustainable Clothing? How to Make Your Capsule Wardrobe Eco Friendly.

What is sustainable clothing?

In recent years, the term “sustainable” has been thrown around especially in the fashion industry. What does sustainability mean? What is sustainable fashion? What is ethical fashion? In this article we answer all of those questions and give you all the information you need to know about sustainability, sustainable fashion, and how to make your capsule wardrobe eco friendly.

We originally touched on this topic while ago in our article “What is sustainable fashion and why you need to know about it”. The sustainability movement is constantly changing as global events happen and both innovations and setbacks occur. So we have decided to provide an updated guide.

What does sustainability mean?

The most frequently quoted definition of sustainability comes from the United Nations’ Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, and is described as follows:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable practices and processes support environmental, ethical, and economic well-being. Resources in this world are finite. So it is important to use them wisely, reduce our carbon footprint, and conserve when you can.

Woman sitting down wearing teal jumpsuit with tie bow. A great timeless and minimalist piece.

The Sustainable fashion movement

One of the most talked about topics when it comes to sustainability is fashion. The sustainable fashion movement strives to create systems, supply chains, and products that are environmentally friendly and ethical.

Fashion exists as powerful art form and industry. Fashion possesses the capability to inspire, serves as a creative outlet where innovation flourishes, and brings joy into peoples lives. The 2.25 trillion dollar industry is a provides countless jobs around the world, bringing people together socially and culturally.

However, the industry is also responsible for contributing significantly to the climate crisis. The industry is also exhausting natural resources, the exploitation of workers, and unethical supply chains.

The sustainable fashion movement has grown exponentially in recent years to drive effective change throughout the fashion industry and world to tackle the climate emergency we are in before its too late by taking accountability, improving processes and working conditions, reducing waste, and seeking innovate solutions.

What is ethical fashion?

Ethical and sustainable fashion go hand in hand. Sustainable fashion cannot exists without accountability on the environmental side of things as well as the social. Condé Nast explains in their Sustainability Glossary that the fashion industry is “complicit in practices that perpetuate child labor, modern slavery, poverty and compromise animal welfare”.

The fashion industry is also responsible for rampant discrimination and exclusion on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, body type, and religious and political beliefs.

A more ethical fashion industry is one where regulations and processes are put into place to create a safer and more fair industry decreasing discrimination and exclusion. A world where clothing made by workers who are treated and compensated well in safe environments.

What is sustainable clothing?

Now that we have provided a background on sustainability and ethics and the role the play in the fashion industry, let’s dive into talking about the clothes themselves. To put into simple terms sustainable clothing are garments from their conception, creation, and distribution stages is done without harm to people or the planet.

Woman wearing a printed button up top and green jacket with jeans and a small purse.

How to make your capsule wardrobe more eco friendly

We know what you’re thinking: a closet filled completely filled with sustainable and ethical clothes seems like a nearly impossible and very expensive. However, achieving a more environmentally conscious wardrobe is easier than you may think, you just have to start.

Where do you start?

Where do you start? Here we have compiled a all the sustainable fashion resources you need including sustainable fashion tips, sustainable fashion brands, and more information on fabrics and fashion to help you make more sustainable buying decisions when buying and build an eco-friendly capsule wardrobe.

Woman wearing a white turtleneck cable knit sweater, with a trench coat, and black jeans. A good example of what to shop for when creating a sustainable and minimalist wardrobe.

Sustainable fashion tips

Minimalism and sustainability

By having or working towards a minimalist lifestyle with and building a capsule wardrobe, you are already off to a great start towards having a sustainable fashion sense and a sustainable life.

In our Sustainable Living Guide, we explain how one minimalism’s core values is making sustainable and choices such as zero waste, a simple diet, and making environmentally friendly buying decisions when it comes to garments, kitchen essentials, and any other purchases you need.

Ethical and sustainable fashion brands

When it comes to making new clothing purchases, choosing to invest in garments from ethical and sustainable fashion brands. While it might be more money than typical fast fashion brands, these clothes are better for the planet and are better quality lasting way more wear, which in the long run is better for your wallet.

Here is a list of ethical and sustainable fashion brands . Spanning from everyday fashion for women and men, workout clothes, undergarments, and outwear. These companies implement sustainable practices such as use sustainable materials and processes while while implementing ethical fashion practices as well.

  • Everlane
  • Eileen Fisher
  • People Tree
  • Epoque Evolution
  • ABLE
  • Patagonia
  • Athleta
  • Columbia

Second hand

Man wearing a Canadian Tuxedo.

Another great sustainable fashion tip is to buy second hand and donate any unwanted garments (we all have those clothes sitting in the back of our closets we never wear). This tip saves you money, helps you be sustainable, and helps you help others be sustainable as well.

A good second hand clothing hack is to follow the one in, one out policy, where every-time you buy something new you donate an item. This helps to keep your capsule wardrobe refined and on the track for achieving minimalist style

Here is a list of second hand stores and apps to check out are;

  • Buffalo Exchange
  • ThredUp
  • Depop
  • Plato’s Closet
  • Rent the Runway

Fast fashion vs. slow fashion

The truth fast fashion

Majority of fashion brands out there are fast fashion brands. These companies have a negative environmental impact on the world.

The clothing made by these fast fashion companies are made with many toxic chemicals and contribute a lot of waste.

These clothes are also made unethically, by workers under unfair working conditions. The supply chains making these garments for these companies may not have the most safe or ethical production lines or processes.

Fast fashion however, is the most available to consumers in terms of affordability and price point and accessibility in terms of location to consumers, whether they an e-commerce website, and a presence social media.

All about slow fashion

Slow fashion features more sustainable production processes when designing and producing clothing items. Unlike fast fashion’s intensive supply chain model, slow fashion takes into account quality over quantity, a minimalist and sustainable value.

Production methods in slow sustainable fashion brands when making clothes involve less water, better treatment of workers, fair wages, and all around a more sustainable and ethical production process.

Many of the sustainable fashion brands mentioned earlier such as Eileen Fisher and Everlane are slow fashion brands as well. More sustainable slow fashion brands to look at include

  • Amour Vett
  • Alternative Apparel
  • Re/Done
  • Stella McCartney
  • Cuyana

A brief background of fabrics

Man a lightweight wearing cotton floral shirt and white shorts.

When putting together sustainable capsule wardrobe, the types of fabrics to purchase is another thing to look out for as well. There are so many innovations happening right now when it comes to sustainable fabrics and material production. The types fibers, raw materials, and recycled materials all being turned into sustainable fabrics.

What you need to know about cotton

Cotton is one the most common fabrics used to make textiles. Cotton is known for its softness, durability, and breathability. It is easy to take care of and easy to clean. Chances are not just your clothes but your sheets, towels, and other items are made from cotton.

However, cotton is not always made in the most sustainable way, using harmful chemicals, abundant water consumption, and processes damaging to the environment. Some regions where cotton is sourced do not reflect ethical fashion values as well, underpaying and putting workers through unethical work conditions.

What is organic cotton?

Try and search for clothes that use organic cotton. Organic cotton is made without chemicals and these manufacturers try to conserve as well using less water when putting producing the fabric.

It is also important to do research as to wear the cotton is coming from and how it is sourced. Is the region where the cotton is from practicing not only sustainable fashion practices but also ethical fashion practices?

Organic hemp

Hemp is one of the most sustainable fibers out there. Hemp grows with little water and does not need the help of chemicals and pesticides. Organic hemp is also biodegradable making hemp a great environmentally friendly option.

Recycled polyester

Recycled polyester is made by taking used materials such as plastic water bottles and spinning it into polyester fibers. Although still not the most sustainable fabric, recycled polyester does use significantly less energy consumption and does remove less waste which would otherwise end up in landfills.


Bamboo is another sustainable option. The bamboo grows quickly without the need for fertilizer and generates its own roots, not needing to be planted. In comparison to cotton, bamboo does not require as much water or pesticides, reducing harmful environmental affect.


Tencel also known as lyocell, is another very sustainable fabric. The tencel fabric is made from wood cellulose making it a regenerated fabric. The natural fibers of tencel are compostable and biodegradable.

The leather industry

It is no secret that the leather is not one of the most sustainable fabrics, in fact it is the complete opposite. Turning animal hide into leather takes a lot of chemicals. Bustle also reports that leather also uses 15,ooo gallons of freshwater, produced 2,200 pounds of solid waste for every ton of leather produced, while putting out methane and carbon emissions out into the atmosphere, and contributing to rainforest deforestation.

Vegan leather

Vegan leather is an artificial leather substitute that looks and performs the same way as regular leather. There have been many innovations in vegan leather materials that are sustainable such as pineapple leaves, mushrooms, cactus, cork, apple peels, recycled plastic and more.

Applying a minimalist approach to buying

Man wearing a camel coat, a white t-shirt, and light wash jeans. A good example of sustainable and minimalist outfit.

If buying from sustainable fashion brands and slow fashion is out of your budget, second hand does not have what you are looking for and you are in need of new clothes, how you approach buying fast fashion can still help to have a more sustainable impact.

How you are buying and what you are buying can make all the difference. To reduce consumption, really think about if you need that item and if you can see yourself wearing it longterm.

Trendy vs. Timeless

Switching from the mindset of shopping trendy to shopping timeless is huge environmentally conscious buying decision to make. When buying an item think about if you are buying single party or into a trend that will be over next season? Do you see yourself wearing an item in a year from now? How about 5 years? A decade?

Universal and Trans-seasonal

Another thing to think about is how universal the clothing pieces are. Can the garment can be worn multiple ways? Throughout the different seasons? Can you see yourself wearing the item day to night? On the office and on the weekend?

The future of the fashion industry

A woman wears a timeless outfit consisting of a white button-up and black jeans.

Fashion has a massive environmental impact on the world. In recent years, many advocate for a more sustainable fashion industry that focuses on reducing consumption, our carbon footprint, and waste, while focusing on more green innovations when it comes to materials and production processes when producing clothing.

As a consumer, there is so much you can do to create a sustainable capsule wardrobe such as shopping from ethical and sustainable fashion companies, paying attention to what fabrics you select, buying quality garments that last and can be worn several ways throughout the year.

Fashion is an amazing form of self expression and developing a personal style that you love and feel comfortable in can make you feel more prepared and confident to take on the day. By implementing these tips on creating a sustainable capsule wardrobe you will save time, money, valuable mind space while contributing to a more sustainable world and looking and feeling good while doing it!

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