How to buy sustainable clothing on a budget
With fast fashion so easily accessible and cheap, it’s no wonder everyone is addicted to it. But have you noticed how FAST that $5 t-shirt falls apart? Maybe you get a few washes out of it but after that, it just doesn’t look new anymore. So then you throw it away, just to buy another one, and the cycle repeats. Now, can you imagine how many people are doing this exact same thing?
Currently, 92 million tonnes of textile waste are being produced yearly, and by 2030, that number is expected to reach more than 134 million tonnes. 95% of these textiles can be recycled or reused. The negative impacts of fast fashion are harrowing, to say the least. That’s why it’s important to buy sustainable clothing any chance we get so the clothes actually last.
Why sustainable, Canadian-made clothing is expensive
Did you know the lowest paid textile workers in Ethiopia earn about $26 USD/month? Assuming they are working 8-hour shifts, 5 days a week — that adds up to roughly $0.16 cents an hour!
Ethical and sustainable clothes cost more because they guarantee a living wage and safe working conditions for all employees. Furthermore, they use expensive raw materials to create higher quality items that are durable, stylish and comfortable. Sustainable fashion isn’t only about creating ethical, eco-friendly clothing – it’s also about creating timeless pieces that last for years. And that kind of quality costs more to make.
So yes, buying good quality sustainable clothing isn’t always affordable. What do we do?
Affordable ways of buying sustainable clothing
You read that right! There are so many ways to get your hands on affordable high-quality slow fashion. You just have to know what to look out for.
Buy second-hand items
Try to look for gently used items at thrift stores, garage sales or FB marketplace. At Miik, we hold a BUY/SELL/TRADE event on our Facebook community group so you can find your favourite Miik pieces at amazing deals, and re-sell any Miik pieces that you aren't reaching for anymore or don't work for your lifestyle anymore. When you buy high quality, you can also re-sell at a great price and recoup a lot of the money you invested in the piece. We hold our buy sell trade event twice a year so make sure you join the FB group to be notified.
Look for sales
Subscribe to your favourite sustainable clothing brand’s email list so you’re notified of sales early. Timing is everything - look for end-of-season or flash sales to find great deals. You can even try to look for coupons!
At Miik, we try our best to make clothing accessible for everyone with our bi-annual slightly flawed sale (everything is up to 50% or 70% off). Click here to subscribe to our email list so you can join us at our next event.
You’ve definitely heard of renting clothes for an event - but have you heard about renting your clothes on a monthly subscription? Companies like Rent the runway allow you to rent clothes every month with over 750+ brands to choose from and zero commitments. The idea is to minimize waste and apply circular fashion to our everyday lives. This is an especially great service to use if you're going to an event that requires dressier attire such as a wedding or gala. These pieces are generally more expensive and tend to sit at the back of our closets collecting dust. Save your time and money and opt to rent pieces you'll only wear 1 or 2 times!
There are online swap sites that you can use to freshen up your wardrobe simply by swapping your wardrobe with others. You can even host a swap party with friends and family. It’ll be fun, plus you walk out with a brand new wardrobe from the people you love the most.
Sell your clothes
As simple as that sounds, sell the items you don’t want or ones that no longer fit you. You can try places like FB marketplace, Plato’s closet and Poshmark to make some extra cash to put towards a new item. Remember the bi-annual BUY/SELL/TRADE we mentioned at Miik? That’s also an option to sell your old Miik clothing that you don’t want anymore.
Plan your purchases
We all tend to purchase new clothing cyclically with each new season. If you know this is your own habit, make a fashion schedule for yourself! Start off by knowing what you have, and identifying how you can create your capsule wardrobe, noting what it is you want to refresh each season.
You’ll likely notice that you really only want 1-4 new pieces each season, so identifying them specifically will help you cut down on how much you spend and cut out impulse buying. If you know that for fall you want a new blazer and a new skirt, you can budget accordingly and set aside the funds you need before the season starts.
Lastly, you can take advantage of Buy Now, Pay Later solutions that help split your purchases into 4-payments every 2 weeks. Now not only are you shopping more conscientiously, you’re also still treating yourself. We offer this service at Miik through Sezzle, which is an amazing option that allows you to split your online purchase into 4 interest-free payments, over 6 weeks with no impact to your credit score. Plus for every new user, Sezzle plants a tree! For our sustainable Canadian brand, that's music to our ears!
The methods mentioned above should help you get your hands on good quality clothing at affordable rates – but there’s more!
What to look out for when buying sustainable clothing on a budget
Look for versatile pieces. Having a versatile top that can be worn in many ways just saves you from buying more! A reversible top that can be worn buttoned up or open like a cardigan with different necklines is a game changer for your wardrobe.
Try to incorporate timeless designs in your wardrobe so you won’t feel the need to discard them next season. Timeless, high-quality clothing will last you years because they’re classic pieces that will never go out of style.
A capsule wardrobe can elevate your look with just a limited number of clothing. As long as you really plan your wardrobe, everything should match seamlessly. Remember, less is more! We’ve put together a work capsule wardrobe guide to help plan out 30 days worth of work outfits with just 23 items – and only 15 pieces of clothing!
Look for imperfections
Before you spend your hard-earned money, make sure what you’re buying doesn’t have any defects. Take a close look at the stitching, bad cuts, asymmetry and anything that can affect the construction of the garment. These can all impact the integrity of the garment over time and may cause the item to not last as long as it should.
The heavier the fabric weight, the stronger the structure. Super lightweight fabrics tend to be cheaper, but they may not last you as long and can sometimes be see-through.
Tight knit or woven textiles
Avoid loosely knit or woven textiles as they can get ruined faster after a few washes and wears.
There’s no reason to rush your new wardrobe - it takes time! If you want every piece in your wardrobe to be high-quality, take it slow. It’s easier to justify costs over a span of a few months than a few weeks. 😉
Quality over quantity
Really think about the items you’re buying. Try to limit your spending and only buy high-quality clothing since they will last you much longer than cheaply made ones. Over time, you’ll notice you’re spending less on clothes because things aren’t falling apart like fast fashion garments.
Don’t forget your kid’s clothing
With kids constantly growing out of their clothes, it’s important to have a plan so everything doesn’t end up in landfills. You can apply the same concepts mentioned above when shopping for children’s clothing. Whether it’s hand-me-downs, buying second-hand or swapping items, look for high quality pieces. It will last longer and have a higher resale value, which you can put towards new clothes for them. Renting clothes is a great option for kids. You can check out places like Tradle or Borobabi.
How to know if a brand is sustainable
Just because it’s expensive, doesn’t mean it’s sustainable! You may just be paying for the brand name. Slow fashion is not just about minimizing environmental impacts, it’s also about being ethical in every step of the process. Look into the brand’s sustainability efforts and find information about their factories, materials and company values.
Few certificates to look out for when shopping for sustainable clothes
If you see any of these certifications on their website, it’s safe to assume the brand is sustainable and backs up its claims. Just remember that many of these have a costly and lengthy application process, so just because a brand doesn’t have all of them doesn’t mean they’re not sustainable. If you’re not sure, send them an email to ask about their processes!
If a product is Bluesigned approved, that means it was responsibly produced to minimize the social and environmental impacts.
Fair Wear Foundation
Fair Wear Foundation focuses on labour standards in the garment industry. They work to improve working conditions for garment workers.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
GOTS certificate looks at processing, manufacturing, packing, labelling, distributing and trading textiles. It ensures textiles are made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres and meet certain social and environmental standards.
The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 focuses on toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans. Every thread, button and other accessories gets tested for harmful substances. (Psst! Miik’s fabrics are Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX® certified.)
B Corp measures the company’s entire social and environmental performance. This certificate looks at the company’s supply chain and materials, all the way to employee benefits and gives a B impact score based on its findings.
These are to get you started. It’s definitely possible to find great quality sustainable clothing on a budget, it just takes a little more time and effort. Research the brand you’re interested in and make sure their social, environmental and company beliefs and values align with yours. Keep an eye out for any deals by subscribing to their email list and following them on social media.
Remember that this is just the beginning of your slow fashion journey. Take good care of the clothes you already have and repair them as much as you can before discarding them. Be sure to follow the care instructions to keep them looking new – and have fun with your style to keep you loving them as long as possible!
With much love,
Your Miik team 🤍