Sustainability and Fashion: The ever-growing eco-friendly trend

With increased media attention on the environment, Generation Z and Millennial shoppers have shown and surveyed to be more interested in ethical and sustainable shopping than their older counterparts.

Generation Z, people who are born after 1995, has made up $44 billion of the retail and buying force this past year. Meaning, this demographic will be in charge of the shifts in the economy, and in order to stay relevant, brands will have to take more progressive measures to stay current in today’s rapidly changing and vast retail landscape.

Capsule Wardrobes and minimalism are among the trends these demographics have turned to simplify their life and their closet. Having pieces that can be mixed and matched with each other, not only is cost effective, but it prevents unnecessary waste and contributing to the millions of tons of garments that enter landfills every year. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry behind the oil industry, so by changing your personal shopping habits and making others aware can have an impact.

Buying vintage: The best way to reduce textile waste is to try and only buy garments that have already been used and wear them to its full life. Usually vintage and second hand pieces tend to be affordable and often times they are made from higher quality materials, so you are receiving a quality piece of clothing that will last longer.

Invest in your wardrobe; invest in yourself:

On a college student or young professional’s budget, it may be difficult to justify buying more expensive garments, especially in the era of fast fashion. However, Italy has a lot to offer when it comes to unique, quality garments and accessories.

Things to look out for in a high quality piece.

The tailoring- the fit of a garment is one of the best indications of the piece’s quality. If the stitches are uneven or long and disperse, this is a good indication that the piece may not ‘hold-up’ to everyday wear and tear.  If things look lumpy and bumpy and the shoulders do not sit naturally, as if they are over extended or cut in too much this can be a warning sign that the piece was not created with care.

The lining and inside material of a garment are also good indications of the overall quality of the piece. The inside should be as beautiful and well made as the outside on a quality piece that will last you through multiple seasons.

If patterns or prints are unaligned or if there is color inconsistency throughout the print this is an indication the garment was not made with care or the factory was skimping on costs in order to increase production speed or save costs on materials.

Hand-feel: the fabric content of a garment is very important, however, there are different fabric grades and although a material may be wool if it is itchy and uncomfortable it is most likely cheap; and you’re less likely to want to wear a garment that is uncomfortable for any reason. Comfort and hand-feel should be primary when shopping for clothing because even if an outfit looks great on, if it’s incredibly uncomfortable you’ll be less likely to want to wear it, and that garment will most likely end up in a landfill sooner.

The details:

Details are important when looking for a high – quality piece that will stand the test of time. Generally speaking, buttons and zippers with the brand name of the clothing company is a good indication the piece is made well.

Maintenance and care of your garments:

Part of sustainability is the upkeep of your garment, and making your piece last a long time. I often go to cobblers to get my soles of my shoes fixed, this is an inexpensive option versus buying a new pair, keeping up maintenance on a well-made piece pays off.

Going to a tailor to have pieces altered to fit perfectly can make you fall back in love with a garment. It makes an outfit look more polished and generally, tailors can fix small wear and tear on a dress you love.

Leather-craftsmen: Going to a leather shop you can have your leather pieces properly cleaned by a Florentine leather professional, often times they offer dying services as well where you can change the look of a bag or jacket. This is a much more sustainable approach and produces less waste.

Every little bit counts. If you don’t know where or how to start your sustainable lifestyle, start with your wardrobe!


Katie Mahoney attends Marist College and currently pursuing a degree in fashion merchandising with a concentration in promotion. She is a native of the Boston area but has spent the past summer and this coming, interning in NYC. Her passion for all things fashion had sprung from a young age, admiring her grandmother’s eclectic yet classically chic sense of style. In her free time, she enjoys traveling the world, having been to fourteen countries and counting; she finds it as an inspiration to see different cultural perspectives. She believes “Learning should not end in the classroom, you can learn so much from the people around you. Being abroad has broadened and challenged my view of the world. I have learned the most about myself from the places furthest from home.” She will continue her study abroad experience this fall, at a fashion institution in Paris. Upon graduation, Katie wishes to pursue a career in Public Relations for an in-house luxury retailer.